With all classes conducted in English, Akita prefecture’s (※1) Akita International University (AIU) is always spearheading philosophical thinking. The Nakajima Library stands within the university campus, surrounded by woods on all sides. Known as the “library that doesn’t sleep”, it is Japan’s one and only library that remains open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
※1… Akita prefecture: Facing the ocean, it is one of Japan’s north-eastern prefectures.
Access is not limited to just AIU students. With members of the general public also entering the library, it is viewed as a place of refuge by the people of Akita prefecture. It goes without saying that the beautiful and user-friendly design allows library users to study comfortably, in a library brimming with various facilities.
The Concept of the Book Colosseum – Students Come to Grips With Studying
Built in 2008, Nakajima library resembles the Roman Colosseum with its semi-circular characteristic design. It is a space that facilitates learning, allowing students to get to grips with books and reading. That is how the concept of the “Book Colosseum” was born.
The Akita Cedar Tree and the Umbrella-Shaped Roof
The university aims to create a favorable environment that utilizes the heritage and nature of Akita. This is seen in the use of the refined and elegant, Japanese cedar tree (*2). The roof was made using ancient construction techniques of Akita prefecture, and forms a semi-circular umbrella-shaped roof structure.
*2…Akita Cedar (Akitasugi): The Japanese cedar tree grows in the woodlands of Akita Prefecture. It is famous for being a high quality construction material.
If you look up at the ceiling, you will notice that wood taken from the Akita cedar tree spreads out in different directions just like an umbrella. The faint smell of cedar tree is very relaxing.
A Personal Space Where You Can Concentrate on Studying
No matter how quiet the surroundings may be, you might still be distracted by noise or by the fact that you are in the view of others while you study. At Nakajima Library, a special work space has been set up behind the bookshelves that run along the staircase. Here, you can concentrate on your studies, as other library users cannot disturb your field of vision, and you cannot be interrupted.
Chairs that Meet the Demands of the User
The chairs are can have three different colors; each color conceals a hidden meaning. In short, the color-coding indicates the height of the chair. Library users can choose a chair that corresponds to their own height, giving them the option to choose something that suits them, and also the chance to choose a chair that won’t burden them with physical fatigue. There is a lot of consideration toward the students who study at the library for long hours.
Book Collections and an Online Database
Books are essentially a library’s treasure trove of knowledge and information. There are a total of 75,000 book collections, about 200 varieties of magazines and newspapers, and some 3,000 audio-visual materials gathered at the AIU library.
Books in foreign languages make up roughly 60 percent of the total collection, so overseas visitors who are not so proficient in the Japanese language can enjoy themselves here.
In Japan there are only 14 places recognized as United Nations Depository Libraries (*3). You can peruse over the U.N.-related articles freely, and also take a look at the English picture books that children love.
*3…United Nations Depository Library: Under contract with the United Nations, the library receives documents and publications from the U.N., allowing people to access them.
How to Use the Nakajima Library
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Nakajima Library can be used freely by the general public. The 24 hour user facilities are restricted to current students and teaching staff, so visitors should take note of the opening times (Weekdays 9:00am-10:00pm, Weekends/Long Holiday Periods 9:45am-6:00pm). A library card will be issued at the reference desk if you possess a personal I.D. card, allowing holders to borrow books.
The Nakajima Library is the symbol of AIU and represents the curiosity toward learning of both students and people of Akita. Open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, it is a place that fuses both beauty and functionability, so perhaps it would be more apt to describe it as a “living library”. When you visit Akita, how about checking out the Nakajima Library, and experiencing the international educational and philosophical thinking of AIU?