Japan: report on the 30th NDL Forum on Preservation

(Jun 2020) On December 19, 2019, the National Diet Library (NDL) held its 30th Forum on Preservation—Disaster Preparedness for Archival Materials: daily preparedness, disaster response, and cooperation at the Tokyo Main Library, where librarians, conservators and other professionals discussed topics related to and exchanged ideas about the most effective ways of preserving library

Library and archival materials all over Japan are regularly damaged by frequent natural disasters. During this forum, we heard reports about daily preparedness, initial responses after a disaster, and frameworks for both local and regional cooperation with other institutions. From these reports, we were able to raise awareness of the need for as well as deepen our understanding of how to implement disaster preparedness and damage control.

A summary of these reports follows.

Report 1:
Disaster preparedness for historical materials: Initiatives in Saitama Prefecture
ARAI Hirobumi
Senior Manager of Curatorial Services at the Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore

Mr. Arai talked about initiatives for disaster preparedness by the network for the preservation of historical materials in Saitama Prefecture 1 and the results of a survey conducted in 2013. Past experience has shown the importance of keeping on hand preservation containers that are suitable for transporting archival materials during an emergency. The network has developed containers
expressly for this purpose, which are kept on hand at four sites in Saitama Prefecture and are provided free of charge to other institutions nationwide. A survey conducted in 2013 of network members and the Japan Society of Archives Institutions members showed that not only are a large proportion of facilities located near rivers, but close to 90% of the institutions that responded have
yet to create disaster preparedness manuals. Mr. Arai emphasized the need for area-specific manuals that include hazard maps to cope with these issues.

Report 2:
Prefectural and municipal cooperation during disasters in Tottori Prefecture
Director General, Tottori Prefectural Library

Ms. Amihama explained the Plan for Communication and Cooperation during Natural Disasters between Municipalities and Prefectural Archives, Libraries, Museums that was implemented by Tottori Prefecture in 2017, which includes a detailed workflow for disaster actions as well as recommendations for activities to be carried out on a regular basis. During disasters, prefectural agencies will collect and share information with municipalities, regional historical societies, and
individuals who own archival materials as well as undertake field surveys to confirm the immediate
situation when requests for support are received. The prefecture also liaisons with relevant institutions on a regular basis as well as maintains a list of emergency shelters for archival materials and stores equipment necessary for disaster preparedness. Ms. Amihama also pointed out that participation in this kind of system is essential to raising risk awareness and promoting crisis
management among library employees.

Report 3:
Activities and regional cooperation of the Japan Historical Materials Network (in Japanese)
Project Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Humanity, Kobe University

Based on her experience with the Historical Materials Network, Dr. Kato talked about the importance of maintaining communication with individuals while conducting preservation activities on a daily basis as well as the expansion of current activities. She also reported that constant contact with volunteers is essential in protecting materials from natural disasters and cited examples of how the HMN provides support in areas lacking a similar organization, such as Tochigi Prefecture, where typhoon No.19 hit in 2019. In contrast to this, when typhoon No.18 hit Japan in 2018, it was almost

impossible to obtain information on the impact to historical materials in the Osaka area. Dr. Kato stressed that this experience showed the need to rethink the role of the network in the Kyoto–Osaka–Kobe area.

Report 4:
Outline and future vision of the National Task Force for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network
Head, Secretariat Office of the National Task Force for the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (CH-DRM Net)

Mr. Okada explained the framework for disaster preparedness of cultural assets from the viewpoint of CHDRM Net, which is an independent administrative agency under the jurisdiction of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and tasked with promoting the building of national networks for protecting cultural assets from natural disasters. To achieve this goal, it is important to develop practicable policies based on the various kinds of natural disasters that could occur as well as to organize this data
in a detailed yet informative manner. Mr. Okada also emphasized the importance of organizing realistic disaster preparedness policies to include even situations in which risk cannot be mitigated.

Report 5:
Disaster preparedness at the International Federation of Library Associations and
Institutions (IFLA) and case studies from outside Japan
SATO Yoriko
Library Counsellor, Acquisitions and Bibliography Department

Ms. Sato reported on case studies of disaster preparedness that were presented at the open session of the IFLA WLIC in 2019. The National Library of France has two major facilities located near the Seine, which entails formulation of a flood risk prevention plan, the building of a concrete bulkhead, and the stowing of materials in storage containers for immediate evacuation. At the General State Archives of Greece, budget reductions have reduced facility maintenance to the point that the deterioration of the buildings presents a very real risk of accidents. For this reason, they are conducting risk analysis and visualization of assessment results as well as labeling bookshelves so that anyone nearby can manage the situation should an accident occur.

Source: National Diet Library Newsletter, June 2020