Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nihongo Toshokan - The Library at the Japanese Language School of Greater Boston

Last Saturday I set foot in a Japanese Saturday school for the first time in 25 years. The Japanese Language School of Greater Boston has been at Medford High School since 1975. A while ago I'd read on their website that the library is open to the public but not being able to read Japanese anymore, I didn't see any reason to go. Recently I got to wondering if they might have origami books so a friend and I decided to check it out. I found a shelf of books that appeared to be the home & cooking section - it had mostly cookbooks and one beading book, but I didn't find any origami books and I was too shy to ask anyone.

The library was much larger than we were expecting. There were thousands of books. It fills a former lecture hall that my friend tells me is the sort of room usually used for detention for Medford HS students. At 10:30am the library was packed full of parent volunteer librarians and parents who were reading and checking books out. Students were in class. I didn't get too many pictures since I didn't want to take photos of anyone without permission. The one above gives you the best sense of scale - there are more books to the right and the left and behind me. In addition to textbooks and children's books, they had an extensive selection of adult fiction. There's also plenty of manga and even some books in English (these seemed to be mostly books about Japan). They also have magazines and CDs.

There are several carts of books in the front of the room that are for sale. They receive a lot of donations (we saw many boxes full of books) and they sell the ones they don't want to add to their collection. They also hold an annual book fair in late October.

It was very surreal to be at a Saturday school again, but at least I didn't break out in hives. Japanese school was unfortunately not a good experience for me and after dropping out after 6th grade, I never thought I'd voluntarily set foot in a Saturday school ever again. Still, there was something nostalgic about being there. 

The library is only open during the Japanese school year from 8:45am to 11:30am so check their calendar before going. You'll need to enter the school through the main entrance at the front of the building. There will be a map in English & Japanese in the center of lobby. The library is located in the rear of the school.

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