- Some Aspects of School Librarianship in Japan
- No.11, p.89-103
After World War II, the teachers who initiated the school library movement in Japan realized the want of such school librarians as one's being practiced in the United States in their libraries. They endeavored to enact legislation for the status of school librarianship. When the School Library Bill was going to be laid before the Diet, the government party and the Ministry of Education made objection to it. Then both wings of Socialist Parties, the minorities of the Diet that would present the bill, persuaded the School Library Association of Japan to compromise with their proposal. The SLAJ abondoned the status of school librarianship and accepted that of teacher librarianship instead. So, the amended bill unanimously passed in 1953. However, the School Library Law provided a temporary・measure which said that teacher librarians need not be placed for school libraries for the time being. Consequently, until now very few school libraries have had librarians if any, because of this temporary measure.
School libraries had long been supported by the pupils' parents. In a school where a respectable library existed, they employed one or two clerks or a library staff. Because of their small salary and precarious situation, the SLAJ began another movement for reforming the law so as to recruit “gakko shish”* as a school library staff that would inevitably downgrade the qualification of the profession.
The educational authority of Aichi Prefecture placed full time teacher librarians in several senior high schools in 1957, and that of Kochi Prefecture did the same in 1959. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government appointed nearly thirty full time school librarians** for senior high schools in 1960, and filled the rest of them in a following few years. School librarians of Tokyo encountered some difficulties as mentioned in the following. It was impossible for most of them to take responsibilities for school libraries because they were newcomers in the schools. More precisely, they were newcomers to the Japanese educational profession. Teachers also believed that the director of a school library was not neccessarily a librarian. They could not pursue the career in teaching profession because they did not experience most of the teacher's duties. They were not always regarded as one of the faculty members because they did not teach pupils in class-rooms.
Some school librarians insisted that they were teachers, and not teacher librarian as Tokyo Metropolitan Government appointed them to be. Since 1968 the Government has not filled the vacancy with a school librarian, and it began to provide a librarian with a certificate of public librarianship for each senior high school in 1971. If the law would be revised on the suggestion of the SLAJ, the status of school librarianship of Tokyo would be abolished.
Almost all teacher librarians, school librarians and “gakko shisho” have not sufficient knowledge of library science, and they cannot satisfy the needs of readers of school libraries where only highly trained librarians can perform their duties as guides to library materials.
In conclusion, the school librarian of Japan should be a teacher of “library stud”.* In reference work, for example, he should serve as a general reference librarian. Other subject teachers who have taken school library courses should take a role of subject specialists.