message from the director 2017-2020

Library to cultivate the imagination for human knowledge

Portraits of the Director

What is the significance of library in the midst of the era of the ICT revolution that evolves day by day in the 21st century? Today, most books, magazines, and audio-visual materials are electrified and accumulated in networks of Kindle, YouTube, or various open-access databases, which can be used to catch and download by smart-phones, anytime, anywhere. What kind of reason for its subsistence can the library have in such an age?

To say in the feeling of daily life, you can check the textbook and reference books of the class if you go there, spend personal time in your favorite seat, study with your friends, watch movies and documentaries stocked in the library, use it to meet people, etc. … . Students, busy with their daily college life, may like the library as a waiting room for attending university classrooms. If so, you would seem to have no need to go out of your way to the old-fashioned book house. In the era of ICT revolution, just going out to the downtown, occupying the corner of a trendy cafe, surfing the Internet by your smart phone with your favorite drink, and looking at SNS, you can now get a lot of "information". If so, going to library seems to be the way only to increase the motivation of exam study. There might be many people who feel that library is such a place. But is it really library, especially university library?

Of course, library is not a "waiting room" of the class. It might be an important accent of study life in the university. Yet, if that could be the only answer, I would say no.

Some people say that, as they like reading and touching various books, library is important. Certainly, the splendor of the book is no doubt. But if that is the case, what is so great with books?

As one can see old books not readily available in library, some people might say that library is as important as museum or archive. Certainly, it is important to stock various books which have been published and out of print variously in order to show them to the eyes of future generations. Still, does the library mean only some historical museum?

Some people say that library is a place to cultivate one’s soul. Certainly, the intellect and the soul of a person are to be polished while checking a lot of books. It will have such significance in the formation of one’s character. Still, how can the intellect and the soul of a person be formed primordially?

Please come to the library with questions like these. Facilities might be old and the place might not be necessarily convenient, and books might be frayed. Still, there should be some charm of library that you cannot help feeling. What is this charm?
It is because you can find, in library, the world of the vast intellects of people who has explored the truth concerning human beings, society, and nature; it comes to us with a voluminous reality and invites us to something beyond. Even if many links to various books on the screen of your smart phone is crammed and pasted, it cannot be likely to excel this reality of library. While literally surrounded by the mountains of books, you can live with books, let your imagination flap the world of books, and deepen the thought of yourself while receiving a lot of stimulations; it is, as the Enlightenment thinker Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated rightly, "to learn is a passage to rare experience of touching the great intellectual heritage of mankind during a vary short time". This is what library proves at its root.

Our university library and its northern branch are well-known in Japan for their creative activities and services, not to mention the number of books and other materials. There is a place where you can meet the knowledge of human race is and can imagine its cultivation. If you would live university life without touching and perceiving the charm of such a library, it would be likely for you to lose the very moment which Rousseau taught us exactly for touching the eternity of human wisdom at the age of fresh start. To make sure that you can feel something important for you, please visit our library.

Executive Vice President & Director of University Library and North Library
Hokkaido University

Ko Hasegawa