Public libraries aren’t somewhere you’d normally associate with travel and travelers. But unlike most of our book lenders back home, Japan’s libraries are actually fighting back to stay relevant in the digital age and have started launching some rather innovative services. To do this, the trend setters have gone back to the core mission of a library, which was to be a place of learning and mental stimulation (or relaxation). As a result, not only residents but tourists as well enjoy the benefit.
The Chiyoda Library, one of a group of libraries based in downtown Chiyoda-ku, was one of the first to embark on this new model. Its managing committee would call a tender from independent outside companies, to create a Public-Private Partnership (PPP or P3 for short), and restore the facility back into public favor. A number of companies answered the tender and the winners were the VIAX, SPS and SHARED VISION, which convinced the Chiyoda management committee to make the facility a place where people could meet and collaborate.
VIAX takes a hand in providing the most comprehensive and accessible reference source, SPS has a role to boost access to local information and the library use., and SHARED VISION’s part is to foster a creative environment considered the location. Those really show in the Chiyoda library. As a result, the facility has a number of facilities you wouldn’t normally associate with a public library, and which are open to the general public. These include of course a reading table/carrel desk, reference service, Chiyoda's information desk, reference room, children's area, non-regular event and exhibit, free internet… oh, and 9th/10th whole floor of books.
I spoke to the library press officer Ms. Mutsumi Sakamaki, who told me, "Our concept is to be a frequently used public facility and to build community around learning." As a result, not only do you get the business and web access facilities, but the library itself is pretty good as well.
If you are not resident in Japan, you can't use all of them at this time. But we particularly liked the reading table with the internet access and power for laptops, so you can certainly sit in comfort on a rainy day and read or search to your heart’s content. To the contrary, what about exploring this place when you are out of the zone. Their display of antiquarian books is impressive, and some are available for purchase. There is also a cafeteria and convenience store at a portion of 10th floor. All-in-all, you can pretty much use the Chiyoda library as your second office.
The library is open from 10am to 10pm on weekdays. Saturday is between 10am to 7pm and Sunday and holidays are usually from 10am to 5pm. It is just five minutes walk southward from Kudanshita station, exit 4, along Uchibori dori.