Editathon at OYA Soichi Library, Japanese magazine library

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On May 28, 2022, an editathon was held at OYA Soichi Library in Tokyo, Japan, which specializes in magazines. Araisyohei (a sysop of the Japanese Wikipedia) supported this event, and was in charge of recording video and photo shooting . A report in Japanese language by Natsumi Miura, a member of the staff, was published in a web-based e-mail magazine “ACADEMIC RESOURCE GUIDE” in CC-BY. Note that only the text of this article was published in the original e-mail magazine. Pictures were inserted for this article.



Wikipedia OYA was held.

Miura Natsumi (Sumida Midori Library, Certified Librarian, Japan Library Association 1154)

■ Summary

On May 28, 2022, “Wikipedia OYA,” a volunteer project, was held at Oya Soichi Library (Setagaya-ku, Tokyo), which specializes in magazines. I would like to introduce this project from the perspective of a staff member.

The aim of this project is to edit articles of Wikipedia, an Internet encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone, using magazines in OYA Soichi Library. The Wikipedians who participated in this event were: さえぼー, Swanee, 逃亡者, のりまき, and Eugene Ormandy (the planner of this project).

This event was originally scheduled to take place in April of 2021, but it was postponed due to the spread of Covid-19, and held in May of 2022. Considering the situation of the infection, we didn’t widely recruit the participants. Information of this event was also posted in SNS with the hashtag #WikipediaOYA.

■ Aim of the project

“WikipediaOYA” was planned by a group of volunteers with the aim of spreading awareness of good compatibility of Wikipedia and magazines, which strongly represent the social trends and fashions of the times, and it was also planned to promote the  utilization of Oya Soichi Library.

Because magazines contain a variety of topics scattered throughout a single volume, it is difficult to find the information you need. However, the OYA Soichi Library’s unique Oya-style index classification method makes it easy to find the information you are looking for.

We held this event to let Wikipedian editors or Wikipedia readers know the value of Oya Soichi Library, large number of magazines and convenient search system.

■ OYA Soichi Library

OYA Soichi Library, a magazine library in Japan, was established in 1971 based on the magazine collection of a critic Soichi Oya (1900-1970) who had wanted to make his collection “available for every person to use”.

Last year (2021) marked the 50th anniversary of its establishment, and it continues to collect magazines. The collection amounts to approximately 12,000 and it is used by press such as newspapers and TV stations, as well as researchers and students.

However, due to the spread of the Internet and the Covid-19 lockdowns, the number of users has decreased. In 2017, the library started the crowdfunding using READYFOR, and the monetary goal has been achieved in 3 days. Moreover, the library newly launched a paid membership system named “OYA-bunko patronage”.

■ The theme “Bread”.

“Bread” was chosen as the theme for this event to take advantage of the magazine’s characteristics. The inspiration for this theme came from a magazine pathfinder (resource list) of “Curry Bread” on the website of OYA Soichi Library.

Another reason is that the information about unique breads in Japan has not been compiled as a book and is not well organized also on Wikipedia.

■ Visiting

Firstly, Mr. Hiroshi Kamoshida, a staff of OYA Soichi Library explained to the participants how to use its original database “Web OYA-bunko”. Users can search for magazines mainly from 1988 by keywords and unique classification. I searched for “brain bread (zunou-pan)”, which is said to make you smarter. I was surprised that I can find the information which I thought is not available by using this database. You can also use this database at public libraries with which OYA Soichi Library have contracts, but the number of them is not large.

After that, Mr. Kamoshida showed us the stacks, which are usually closed to the public (magazines are took out by library staff). The stacks, divided into eight rooms, are full of magazines.

We saw many magazines, first issue of a magazine that is still published today, a magazine that has already ceased publication, and the oldest magazine in the collection, “Kaikan Zasshi (會館雑誌)” published in 1875. We can also flip through the pages of a magazine published 100 years ago. It included special features about the world100 years later.

Magazines in OYA Soichi Library were stored, searchable, findable, and accessible. In public libraries, serials such as magazines are often removed after their storage period has passed. I reaffirmed the significance of the OYA Soichi Library.

■ Research and Edit

Participants used the database and “OYA Soichi Library Index Catalog,” which is a catalog of magazines before 1987, to find the information they need. Not only Wikipedians but also staff actually used the database.

We picked up some fashion and cuisine magazines such as “Hanako”, “Tokyo Walker”, and “Dancyu”, and other magazines such as “Mainichi Graph”, “Shukan Jitsuwa”, and “Seventeen”. One participant commented that “I didn’t expect to find so many articles”.

MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) used by public libraries does not contain such detail information especially about serialized articles or columns included in feature articles.

Four articles ([[ウチキパン]] [[かにぱん]] [[なかよしパン]] [[マグノリアベーカリー]]) were written and published on the day of the project using magazines. More articles will be published.

■ After the project

I often feel that if I cannot find the information, it is the same as if it didn’t exist. On the contrary, if we can find, we can use the information. 

Soichi Oya said “Books are not for read. They are for search”. I felt that the OYA Soichi Library, which not only collects magazines but also stores them in a searchable format, has more places to be utilized, not limited to Wikipedia.

Visiting OYA Soichi library is the best way to enjoy its uniqueness, but if you can’t visit, you can use database “Web OYA-bunko”. If this database were available at other libraries like prefectural libraries, for example, I wonder how many missing information could be found. How can we support this rare specialized library which has materials that are not available anywhere else? This is one of the main reasons why I agreed with the planners and participated in the project.

We want to continue to hold Wikipedia OYA. Through this project, we would like to support the Oya Soichi Library so that it will continue to be utilized in the future. The next event has not yet been decided, but we will post information on SNS with the hashtag #WikipediaOYA. If you are interested in this event, please keep an eye on this tag. Sharing information is also welcome! Why don’t you join us in supporting the Soichi Oya Library?

Author’s profile

Natsumi Miura. After working in the magazine editorial department of a publishing company, she joined TRC Library Service Co., Ltd. in 2008 and works at Sumida Midori Library as a designated manager. She was the responsible editor for LRG No. 35, which was released last year. Outside of the library, she is active in drawing illustrations and focusing on the library’s book post. On June 18 (Sat.), she held “Wikipedia Town Sumida” with volunteers.

*This text is released under the Creative Commons License CC-BY.

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