The Japanese Library Association (JLA) reports that almost all of the schools in Japan have libraries, with tens of thousands in elementary and junior high schools, and less in high, middle, and special schools. Specifically, there are many more libraries in elementary schools than in other schools, due to the number of schools. Even so, there is a School Library Law first enacted in 1953, which states that schools “should have libraries,” and a 1997 amendment which led teacher librarians to be sent to schools with more than 12 classes. However, they aren’t excepted from regular duties as teachers of specific subjects in classrooms.  In addition there is a library law which was first enacted in 1950, with amendments from 1952 to 1965. This focus is reflected in anime, which I’ll focus on in this post, bringing together many other scattered posts on this blog which have included student librarians.
All these characters work in school libraries, otherwise known as school library media centers, which are libraries within schools where students, staff, and parents of the school have access to resources, with a mission to allow all members of the school’s community to have equitable access to resources,while using different types of media, the internet, and books. They are distinct from public libraries because they extend, support, and individualize the curriculum of the school, and as the coordinating and central agency for school materials. They have been praised for positively supporting student assessment.  These libraries are meant to serve small and large groups,having a learning space for students, functioning as a central location of information available. It also allows students to safely access internet, and has collaborative ventures with staff, providing opportunities for students. At the same time, the budget is important, while school libraries are staffed either by librarians, teacher librarians, or others who have a library science degree. 
When it comes to librarians in anime, they are student librarians. Speaking broadly, not specifically about Japan, but about these librarians in general, they provide valuable input for library development and “raise the profile of the library among their peers”. They also ensure day-to-day operations of libraries, although they only work during lunch and break times, but has to perform their duties or they will be replaced or fired. In such schools where this is available, many students have the opportunity to become a librarian. However, in some higher education institutions, students can be paid. In other cases, they might be student library aides. 
One of the first librarian characters I came across was Hisami Hishishii in R.O.D. the TV. Voiced by Taeko Kawata in Japanese, and by Megan Taylor Harvey in English dub, Hisami is a student librarian. Her character also is, in keeping with how librarians are usually portrayed, quiet, shy, and lover of books. At the same time, she is a friend with the protagonist, Anita King, who she has a crush on. She further has the distinction of being a 13-year-old author as well. Such characters appear as they are in line with preferences of anime viewers who are mostly in high school themselves, meaning that many anime are set in high school, although that doesn’t always limit the storytelling. 
This contrasts with Yamada in B Gata H Kei. Voiced by Yukari Tamura in Japanese, and Brittney Karbowski in English dub, she goes to a high school in Japan. Using data summarized by the JLA, elementary schools have four times more libraries than high schools, because there are many more elementary schools than junior high schools, middle schools, or special schools. Similarly, Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words, who is voiced by Mayuki Makiguchi, and Fumi Manjōme in Aoi Hana / Sweet Blue Flowers, who is voiced by Ai Takabe, are both student librarians in their respective anime. Additionally, there’s Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta, voiced by Kaori Nazuka, who goes to a high school, and Himeko Agari in Komi Can’t Communicate, voiced by Yukiyo Fujii. If I remember right, Hasegawa Sumika in Bernard-jou Iwaku a.k.a. Miss Bernard said, voiced by Aya Suzaki, is at an elementary school or some school lower than a high school.
Beyond this is Rin Shima in Laid Back-Camp, voiced by Nao Tōyama, Nagisa Yasaka in My Roommate is a Cat (“What Connects Us”), who is voiced by Hisako Tōjō, and Sumireko Sanshokunin a.k.a. “Pansy” in Oresuki, voiced by Haruka Tomatsu. There’s also an unnamed and uncredited librarian in Kin-iro Mosaic aka Kinmoza (“The Girl on My Mind”). In fact, the only male student librarian with a name I know of at present is Yuu Izumi in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie (“Cultural Festival I”). He is voiced by Shūichirō Umeda and he works alongside Kamiya, who is voiced by Ayaka Fukuhara.
There are two or three unnamed librarians in a Revolutionary Girl Utena episode (“The Sunlit Garden – Prelude”). From my current listing of fictional librarians, I’m not aware of any student librarians in Western animation as of yet, apart from the library clerk in The Simpsons episode (“Bart’s Girlfriend”), who is voiced by Hank Azaria. That’s it. Most are much older. Sabine in Sabine; an asexual coming of age story, is a student librarian, but she is in a webcomic and it is unlikely that will become an animation. However, if it does become an animation, she will be the first asexual librarian that I’m aware of in an animated series.
Some student librarians go to special schools. For instance, Chiyo Tsukudate in Strawberry Panic!, voiced by Chiwa Saitō, goes to an elite all-girls school. She goes to St. Miator’s Girls’ Academy, which is affiliated with two other all-girls schools, specifically St. Spica’s Girls’ Institute and St. Lulim’s Girls’ School. Comparably, in Manaria Friends, Anne and Grea go to the Mysteria Academy of Magic. Anne, who is voiced by Yōko Hikasa, and Grea, voiced by Ayaka Fukuhara, both help out in the library during the episode “Hide-and-Seek”. They also serve as library patrons in various other episodes.
There are various characters who are not student librarians, like Lilith in Yamibou, who is voiced by Sanae Kobayashi, an unnamed librarian in a Little Witch Academia episode (“Night Fall”), or characters in Library War like Iku Kasahara and Asako Shibasaki. Furthermore, Sophie Twilight in Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood is a personal librarian and does not go to school. This is just a small listing of those librarians who are not students and are not, as a result, student librarians. 
The same can be said for the librarian in the strange first-person series, Makura no Danshi, also known as Makuranodanshi. Although he is apparently a “librarian boy”, he is 28 years old. Named Shirusu Mochizuki and voiced by: Kōsuke Toriumi, he appears in the episode “Librarian Danishi”, talking to the audience while shelving books and waking up a sleeping patron. In a connection to my review of librarians who sleep at the information desk back in January, he declares that naps disturb the other patrons and to not sleep in the library.
He also remembers frequent patrons, sees what people are reading in the library and he says he enjoys selecting books for patrons to read. He later makes an exception for the audience saying to rest there until his shift is over and goes further and declares that the library can become a place of “emotional healing.” That connects, in some way to my next example, this time of a student librarian.
One of the more intriguing student librarians I have come across during my anime watching is a blue-haired girl Kamiya, also known as Kamiya-san, in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie. She is friends with the purple-haired protagonist, Izumi. She is on the library committee and he helps her put away some books, which all have Japanese call numbers. Although she is described as having a “cool but kind exterior,” with male and female fans, along with the ace of the volleyball team, this, and Izumi’s description of her as calm, composed, and pretty, is somewhat thrown into question.
She may be socially awkward as despite her popularity she wants to get away from it all and find a place that is quiet, the library. That is, in fact, how they first met, a year and half before, when she showed him how to enter books and items into the library catalog. At the present, she first tells Izumi he is different because he has a girlfriend, Shikimori, then grills him about it. She becomes impressed with his story and is a bit of a romantic rival to her in more ways than one.
It is later revealed to be a coincidence that both are paired for couples photos for the cultural festival and are on library duty together. In many ways, Kamiya is fulfilling the IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto of 1999 which states that school libraries equip “students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens”, as the skills he learns while working at the library will likely help him in the future.
Then, in the episode “Cultural Festival II”, Izumi and Kamiya are again in the library for library duty while the cultural festival is going on. They both talk about a recent movie they both watched. She has a vision or dream before that, at the beginning of the episode that she is losing Izumi to Shikimori, which makes her sad. While Izumi says he wasn’t expecting a conversation about lost love and expectations with Kamiya, he is glad they are talking about it. Kamiya even has the grace to trade e number with Shikimori so she can be with Izumi during the festival, something she didn’t have to do, but it says a lot about her as a character. As such, she is a librarian character, and so much more, who has a strong supporting role in this anime.
This is in stark contrast to other librarians in anime. Take for example the unnamed student librarians in an episode of Azumanga Daioh (“One Spring Night”). Seen helping patrons at the beginning of the episode while at the information desk, these two librarian aides, one of whom is a woman and the other a man, tell the protagonists, who are studying there, that they are leaving for the day. They ask them to turn off the lights when they leave. While this would be unthinkable for some librarians to ask patrons to close up for them, it is in-keeping with the slice-of-life vibe of the series, which sometimes is a bit chill and at other times wades into surreal comedy. In any event, the protagonists end up turning off the light and leaving before it gets too dark, as they have no reason to stay there and have to get back home.
Diametrically opposed to the previous examples is Sumireko Sanshokunin a.k.a. “Pansy” in Oresuki. Voiced by Haruka Tomatsu, she wears glasses, braids, and has a “sharp tongue,” to say the least. In the first episode, she is described as a quiet and plain library aide by the show’s protagonist, Amatsuyu “Joro” Kisaragi, at first. This is thrown into question when it turns out she has been stalking and watching him, while she holds the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The novel is said to be a book defining in the gothic horror genre, while the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde”refers to those who appear outwardly good but are actually shockingly evil. In this episode, she has some of that nature in that she ships a bench Joro had been sitting on to the library and pressures (and manipulates) him to coming to the library every day during lunch after confessing her love to him. He agrees on the proviso that the library is a “secluded” space.
Her actions on the face, violate the Code of Ethics for Librarians outlined by the JLA. In fact, Joro calls her a “demonic stalker” in the next episode. However, she remains aware of everything going on, an helps him out, and is later called, in the episode “I Met You Before” as a “formidable woman”. As rumors swirl across the school about Joro, she uses her role as a student librarian to encourage Oga, a star athlete at the school, to reveal he set up Joro, by convincing two other students, Himawari and Cosmos, that he lied to them. It is then that she reveals to Joro that she is the girl he fell in love with at a baseball game and is only taking on the appearance of a quiet, reserved librarian to hide her true nature from everyone else, especially from a supposed “demon” who is after her.
As the show goes on, the library becomes a place that Joro, and his newfound friends, Cosmos, Himawari, and Oga, study, while Pansy gains new friends of her own. It even becomes a place to whether the crises he weathers, like a libelous article claiming he has three girlfriends written by a jealous reporter, Asunaro. In the meantime, she becomes more comfortable with herself, and a new student even meets everyone in the library.
The “demon” of Pansy is revealed when there is a concerted effort to save the library, in the latter part of the show’s second season, a boy from her previous school, Hose. The school administration declares that there needs to more traffic from people using the library, i.e. more patrons, to prevent it from being closed. This is successful, and the library becomes a social hub for students, but its role as a secluded place is lost. Even so, more students means she can more effectively serve library patrons and beats an attempt to impede library activities, standing against the JLA’s statement on intellectual freedom in libraries which was last revised in 1979.
It turns out that Hose once had a crush on her in middle school, and he will stop at nothing to make her his, with two girls almost serving as his lackeys. This means she changed her appearance in order to avoid a possessive man who still loved her. Ultimately, Hose loses a bet with Joro, and Pansy says they can keep meeting in the school library, saying she still loves Joro, despite the fact she calls him “industrial waste” after he asked Pansy, Cosmos, and Himawari to be his girlfriends. The latter is seemingly a plea to get Pansy to have more friends, showing he cares about others beyond himself, at least in this case, even though he is generally a despicable character.
What Pansy experienced is not at all surprising considering there are reports of people sexually molesting girls in Japanese libraries, which are known as toshoshitsu in Japanese, ongoing sex-child prostitution involving high school girls, and sexual assault of schoolgirls on public transit. On a non-terrifying and disturbing note, there’s also a dedication to the privacy of library users, in line with the JLA’s statement I mentioned earlier, saying that it isn’t right if “people cannot use a library free from anxiety.”
Topics in libraries in Japan are organized by subject and letter, along with reference and foreign language books. What’s in the library would differ depending on whether the library is in a preschool, elementary, junior high, or high school. Furthermore the fact that attendance is almost universal with no absences, the education is intense, rules for uniforms are strict, students clean the bathrooms, classrooms, and cafeterias of their schools, and balanced meals provided in schools undoubtedly influence library environments in schools. 
There are other libraries in Japan too, beyond those in schools. This includes the National Diet Library, which made an appearance in R.O.D. the TV, the National Film Center Library, Automobile Library, Asia Library, Japan Aeronautic Association Aviation Library, an anime library, a manga library, and the related Diplomatic Archives and National Archives of Japan, to name a few. There’s also, apart from the ALA, the Japan Association of National University Libraries, Japan Special Libraries Association, and Japan Society of Library and Information Science. There’s even overnight libraries which are styled after remolded traditional homes which can be used by students as a place to study after school or relax. At one time they were even lending libraries at hospitals, library festivals in some places in Japan, and books just devoted to autobiographies. 
More broadly, there are libraries in “nearly every town and neighborhood in Japan,” meaning that is common to see people during their commutes or outside reading books and other materials. These libraries are “cultural facilities for the dissemination of knowledge” in Japan, sometimes having unique designs, water fountains, and library committees (at least in schools) where students are assigned library duties. Due to this role, it is no surprise that many libraries in the country prohibit photography. 
All of these libraries in Japan is not much of a surprise. After all, in Japan, having “harmonious relations with others” with reciprocity and fulling social obligations is more important than a relationship someone has to a so-called “higher power”. As such, order, harmony, and self-development underlie much of Japanese social interaction, which is why substitutes are rarely used, lunches are eaten in classrooms, and summer break is only 5 weeks long. Some schools even have classes on Saturday and there are various student clubs. Most also walk or bike to school if the distance isn’t that long. 
The fact that many Japanese librarians in anime are schoolgirls is in line with the audience of such animated series and likely current dynamics in school itself. Japan is a patriarchal society where men are portrayed to be the leaders and not in “feminized” professions like librarianship, with more men in the workforce, for all professions, than women. This is happening while Japan’s society is greying with an estimated 40% of the population to be elderly by 2060.  In the end, there will continue to be Japanese librarians in school environments going forward, a trend which isn’t going to end anytime soon.
© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.
 Teachers who are part of the JLA are part of its School Library Division. There are also divisions for public libraries, university libraries, junior college libraries, special libraries, and education. There are also committees and working groups which focus on, according to the JLA, “library policies, library management, copyright, intellectual freedom, bibliography, preservation and conservation, services for the handicapped, publications, library services for children and young adults, international relations, etc.” A June 2020 article in Nippon also stated that the number of libraries in Japan is increasing.
 “Standards for the 21st Century Learner,” American Association of School Librarians (AASL), 2007; “Frequently Asked Questions.” American Library Association, May 12, 2008; “School Library Campaign.” American Library Association,” November 23, 2008; Morris, Betty J. Administering the school library media center (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited), 2013, p.32; “Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries : The Ohio Research Study.” Ohio Educational Library Media Association, Feb. 21, 2004; Lonsdale, Michele. “Impact of School Libaries in Student Achievement.” Australian School Library Association, 2003. Also see AASL position statements.
 Morris 2004; De las Casas, Dianne. (2010). “Tag! you’re it!”: playing on the digital playground. Knowledge Quest, 39(1), 80-82; “School Library Handbook.” The Wyoming State Library, Jun. 6, 2021; Thomas, Margie J. and Patsy H. Perritt. “A Higher Standard: Many states have recently revised their certification requirements for school librarians.” School Library Journal, Dec. 1, 2003; “School Libraries & Education.” American Library Association, accessed June 4, 2022; “Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students.” AASL, 2013. Also see some sources listed on the School library Wikipedia page.
 “Student librarians.” National Library of New Zealand. Accessed June 5, 2022; “School student librarians.” St. Augustine’s CE High School. Accessed June 5, 2022; “2019-2020 Student Librarians.” Ilako Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Librarians.” Co-Op Academy Walkden. Accessed June 5, 2022; Slater, Lewis. “The Student Librarians.” Unity College, Jun. 1, 2019; “Student Librarians.” Tarlton Law Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Librarians Update Library.” Cambian University, Apr. 3, 2022; “Librarians for First-Year Students.” Harvard Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; Pollock, Natasha. “Student Librarians: Contributors in Our Learning Community.” Books Are Just the Beginning, Feb. 14, 2017; “Student Librarians.” Kettering Science Academy. Accessed June 5, 2022; Onwubiko, Emmanuel Chidiadi. “An Assessment of the Effect of Self-efficacy, Reading Culture, Utilization of Library Habits on the Academic Achievements of Student-librarians.” Library Philosophy and Practice, May 2022; “History.” Board Of Student Librarians. Methodist’ Boys School Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 23, 2010; Heraper, Sue. “Managing a Successful Student Library Aide Program.” Student Library Aide. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Library Aide.” Mississippi Department of Education. Accessed June 5, 2022.
 Kemner, Louis. “25 Best High School Anime, Ranked.” CBR, May 15, 2022.
 Others include Aruto, Iina, Kokoro in Kokoro Toshokan a.k.a. Kokoro Library, Hamyuts Meseta, Mirepoc Finedel, Noloty Malche, Ireia Kitty, Mattalast Ballory, Volken Macmani, Ruruta Coozancoona, Mokkania Fluru, Fhotona Badgammon, and Makia Dekishart in Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra, Isomura in Let’s Make a Mug Too episode (“The Garden of Sky and Wind”), unnamed librarian in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform episode (“There’s No School Tomorrow, Right?”), unnamed/uncredited librarian in Gabriel DropOut (“Fun Forever After…”), four unnamed/uncredited librarians in Cardcaptor Sakura episode (“Sakura and the Summer Holiday Homework”), and two librarians in Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (“My Senpai is a Bunny Girl”), Atsushi Dojo, Mikihisa Komaki, Hikaru Tezuka, Ryusuke Genda, and Kazuichi Inamine in Library War, and Riichi Miura in The Ancient Magus Bride: Those Awaiting a Star.
 “Man arrested for sexually molesting junior high school girl in library.” JapanToday, Oct. 19, 2021; “Japanese Vocabulary – School Rooms.” PuniPuni, accessed June 4, 2022; “Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries.” Japan Library Association, 1979; “Japanese School System.” Education in Japan, accessed June 4, 2022; “Explore Japan: Schools.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks, accessed June 4, 2022; Dom Alex, “Japanese High School Library Tour,” YouTube, Feb. 6, 2016; xxDotheMonkeyDancexx. “RYE Japan #30 – school library.” YouTube, May 16, 2013; Schaub, Michael. “Haruki Murakami’s library list is published, and Japanese librarians are up in arms.” LA Times, Dec. 5, 2015; Fifield, Anna. “For vulnerable high school girls in Japan, a culture of “dates” with older men.” The Denver Post, May 16, 2017, reprinted from The Washington Post; Ripley, Will. “Fascination with Japanese schoolgirl culture hiding a darker side?” CNN, Dec. 27, 2015; Ekin, Annette. “Sexual assault in Japan: ‘Every girl was a victim’.” Al-Jazeera, Mar. 8, 2017. Also see the Wikipedia page “Education in Japan” for more information.
 “Libraries & Archives: National & Administrative Libraries.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Libraries & Archives: Library Associations.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Libraries & Archives: Libraries in Specific Fields.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “What’s Cool: Sleeping Surrounded by Books – Bookstores and Libraries that Double as Accommodation.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Reading for All: “Barrier-Free” Picture Books for Children.” Trends in Japan, Dec. 9, 2002; “Library Festival.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Accessed June 5, 2022; “This is My Life: Young and Old Producing Autobiographies.” Trends in Japan, Sept. 22, 2000; “What’s Cool: Suginami Animation Museum.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Apr. 2005; “Exploring the History of Manga.” Trends in Japan, Jan. 22, 2007. The National Diet Library is said to have more books (and presumably materials) than any other library in Japan.
 “Japan in Photos – Japan Celebrates Reading Week.” Japan Up Close. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Dec. 1, 2021; “Seaside Momochi: Waterfront Development for a Multimedia Society.” JapanAtlas. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Japan’s Blue Created With Indigo Dye.” Trends in Japan, Jan. 2014; “In the Morning.” KidsWebJapan. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Special Feature on Schools in Japan: Classroom Duties.” WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Jan. 2021; “Feeling Like a Protagonist on Location.” Trends in Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Japan, Land of Water.” niponica, no. 15, 2015.
 “Values and Beliefs” within Japan: A Country Study (Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1994, ed Ronald E. Dolan and Robert L. Worden), reprinted on countrystudies.us; “Explore Japan: Schools.” KidsWebJapan. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; Freeman, Ellen. “9 Ways Japanese Schools Are Different From American Schools.” Mental Floss, Dec. 18, 2015; “Japanese Educational System.” Japan Educational Travel.” Accessed June 5, 2022; Johnson, Marcia L. and Jeffrey R. Johnson, “Daily Life in Japanese High Schools.” ERIC Digest, Oct. 1996. School cleaning by students is intended to make students responsible for their surroundings, although there are cleaning staff as well. Also see Nishioka, Kanae. “Historical overview of curriculum organization” in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in Japan: Beyond Lesson Study (ed. Koji Tanaka, Kanae Nishioka and Terumasa Ishii, New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 11-27; Tokyo Five. “13 Ways Japanese Schools Are Different From American Ones.” Business Insider, Jul 17, 2014; “Top Performing Countries: Japan.” NCEE. Accessed June 5, 2022; Ooman, Emily Joy. “10 Facts About Education in Japan.” The Borgen Project, May 20, 2020; Mandrapa, Nebojsa. “Interesting Facts about Japanese School System.” Novak Djokovic Foundation, Mar. 11, 2015; Abe, Namiko. “The Japanese Education System.” ThoughtCo, Sept. 8, 2018; “Japanese high-school students.” Contents Library. Japan Foundation. Accessed June 5, 2022.
 “Labor force in Japan from 1973 to 2021 by gender.” Statista, Feb, 2022; “Labor force, female (% of total labor force) – Japan.” WorldBank, Feb. 8, 2022; “Labour force participation rate by sex and age (%) – Annual.” ILOSTAT Explorer, 2021; “Country Profiles.” ILOSTAT. International Labour Organization, select “Japan” from drop-down menu; “Labor force, total – Japan.” WorldBank, Feb. 8, 2022; “Japanese Workforce Statistics 2022: Digging Into the Labor Market of Japan.” TeamStage. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Demographic Change in Japan.” Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “How Japan can take the lead with an ageing workforce.” World Economic Forum, May 8, 2019. Recent statistics from the Statistics Bureau of Japan (see table 1 on this page) show more women working in the education field than men. Furthermore, e-Stat shows 144,000 men and 201,000 women working in education learning support in Japan in 2021, 136,000 women and 99,000 men working in school education in 2021. The same chart shows that 22,000 men and 12,000 women work in video picture, sound information, character information production, and distribution in 2021, which I’m assuming is referring to anime production. There does not appear to be a category for libraries, unlike the BLS in the U.S. Also see the badly sourced and poorly maintained “Labor market of Japan” page on Wikipedia for further information.