UCC gains access to massive library in Japan

13 Oct 2023

A piece of the artwork Evening Snowfall at Ueno by Utagawa Kunisada. Image: National Diet Library, Japan

A collection of Japanese material is being unveiled at UCC today, while students will gain access to new material from one of the world’s largest libraries.

Students and scholars at University College Cork (UCC) will gain access to a treasure trove of new archives, thanks to a deal with Japan’s National Diet Library.

Under the new agreement, a significant collection of Japanese material will be established at UCC, while the university will gain access to research dissertations and millions of books and articles.

The collection will include important items representing Irish-Japanese cultural relations, including more than 200 original printings by Lafcadio Hearn, a Dublin-raised Irishman who is known for bringing his understanding of modern Japanese culture to western readers in the 19th century.

UCC said this is the first time a university in Ireland or the UK has achieved this type of agreement, along with only two other universities in Europe. The National Diet Library is said to be the seventh largest in the world, with more than 46m catalogued items.

It is hoped that the collection at UCC will attract scholars from across Europe, while the library access will support new research in Ireland across a range of fields.

“This is the first time since the foundation of the State that a significant collection of Japanese materials will be available in Ireland,” said UCC Prof Kiri Paramore. “It is a window into an ancient and fascinating country that is a world leader in science and technology.

“The collection of more than 2m pieces propels Irish universities from a catch-up position on Japan knowledge to a Europe-leading status. It gives access to a much broader range of knowledge from a widely divergent range of perspectives, thereby deepening our understanding of the world.”

The agreement is expected to deepen relations between Ireland and Japan. Tánaiste Micheál Martin, TD and Japanese ambassador Norio Maruyama will open the new Japanese National Diet Library Portal at UCC later today (13 October).

“This agreement represents another significant step forward in relations between our two countries,” Maruyama said. “This resource will both enhance scientific research in Ireland and deepen mutual understanding between the Japanese and Irish peoples over the coming decades.”

“The access to the works of Lafcadio Hearn will allow Irish people to rediscover how important his contribution was to our bilateral relations and beyond.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic