[From September Issue 2012]
Manga libraries are libraries that specialize in handling comic books. In Tokyo, there is the Contemporary Manga Library, which has been going for more than 30 years, and the Yoshihiro Yonezawa Memorial Library, which specializes in manga and subculture. Elsewhere, there is the Hiroshima City Manga Library, the Ryugasaki City Urban Renewal Center (Main) in Ibaraki Prefecture and in Fukushima, a lending library (Aomushi) that specializes in Showa-era manga.
The appeal of manga libraries is that besides new titles, volumes that are hard to get hold of, as well as valuable issues, are available to be read. Popular collections include manga that are no longer available to buy in the stores and back issues of manga magazines. Some users let out a cry of joy when they come across a volume that they have long been searching for, or a comic strip that has been serialized in a magazine, but never published in book form.
The Contemporary Manga Library was opened in 1978 with the private collection of NAIKI Toshio. They now have about 180,000 volumes of manga; the biggest private collection in Japan. They not only have books, but also many back issues of manga magazines, so that users can look up material going back 40 years.
“It seems that we are the first to establish a manga library based on a private collection. Since we had also been operating a book rental store from that time, our collection of works from the 70s onwards is pretty comprehensive. As we buy in new titles and are given free copies by publishing companies, it’s getting hard to find room for our growing collection. We even get customers from overseas who have come to study Japanese culture,” says staff member NAIKI Yuuko.
Hiroshima City Manga Library is the only public manga library in Japan. A special feature of the library is the “Hiroshima Corner,” an area that gathers together and introduces manga written by artists from the city and works that are related to the city. They also have a collection of old books and reprints that reflect the history and roots of manga in Japanese culture.
OKAMOTO Mio, the library’s PR manager, says, “We offer a service to users from outside the prefecture and from other countries that allows them to borrow up to five books a day even without a membership card. In order to provide a deeper understanding of manga culture, we offer lectures about manga history and lessons in manga illustration.”
Japan is actively engaging in activities to promote the manga culture that it is so proud of. Kyoto International Manga Museum is a joint collaboration between Kyoto Seika University, which has a manga department, and Kyoto City. In addition, on August 3, the Kitakyushu City Manga Museum is being opened as a center to promote manga culture. As the collection and study of manga works progresses, surely manga culture will become even more enriched.
Text: HATTA Emiko