- 名古屋大学大学院教育発達科学研究科紀要. 教育科学 (ISSN:13460307)
- vol.64, no.1, pp.169-179, 2017-09-30
This study seeks to examine the current state of affairs of public libraries in contemporary Japan, with regard to regional disparities in the availability of resources and their use. While libraries are established based on the principle of local autonomy, regional disparities present issues affecting access to resources and information, and guardianship of residents’ rights to learn. For local governments in Japan to establish individual libraries according to their respective abilities, it is necessary for them to gain an overview of the national library system as a whole. Unfortunately, this task has been neglected, with the result that there is an insufficient understanding of the actual situation of regional disparity in public libraries. In this study of public libraries, I examine regional disparities by comparing urban municipalities (cities and wards) with rural municipalities (towns and villages) in terms of the availability of materials and human resources. In my analysis, I use the latest available data, from the 2016 edition of Statistics on Libraries in Japan. I calculate the degree of dissimilarity between urban and rural municipalities respectively, in terms of total number of books, book circulation statistics, number of loans, service population, number of members, and number of full-time librarians. I then study regional differences by comparing these two target groups. The main findings are as follows. Firstly, in rural municipalities, disparities emerge in terms of the very existence of libraries, while in urban municipalities disparities emerge in the utilization of resources in terms of the number of loans. Secondly, no major difference exists in the number of full-time librarians in rural and urban municipalities. However, if the degree of difference among service populations is used as a reference standard, then rural municipalities could be said to have larger disparities than urban municipalities in terms of the relative number of full-time librarians. The ongoing challenge for public libraries is to find ways to cope with regional disparities in services and resource utilization.