Library in Japan publishes collection of poorly memorized book titles

The Fukui Prefectural Library can be seen in Fukui City on September 15, 2014 (Mainichi / Takeshi Noda)

OSAKA – Have you ever started looking for a book without really remembering the title? Maybe you went to a library counter and said, “There’s this book, and it’s called, uh,” then said something ridiculous. And in a library in Japan, librarians write them down. And now they put them in a book.

The Fukui Prefectural Library in Fukui City has noted poorly memorized book titles and published them – along with the correct titles of the volumes – on their website since 2007. This and the collection, released on October 20, are intended to make people are more aware that the library can find for you that title which you remember in the fog, and like tips for finding them on your own.

Examples in the book include Mikako Brady’s “I’m Yellow, White, and a Little Blue” and Yoko Sano’s “The Cat Who Lived a Million Times”, which users respectively believed to be “The Bloods of So-and-So” yellow, white and sometimes blue “or something like that. There were three colors,” and, “The cat that died a million times.”

Silly mistakes they can be, but everyone’s probably had similar experiences. And the library has reference services to facilitate searching its holdings in these situations.

“I think this function of the library is not widely known or used,” said a representative of the library.

The list of poorly remembered book titles on the library’s website caught the attention of the online community in 2009. In response, the library started collecting more examples, which have since become regular viral hits. .

“Usually we get one example of a poorly remembered headline per month, but when we go viral on Twitter we get around 10 examples per day,” the staff member said, adding that the library had collected around 900 examples up to here.

But how can the library help a user who has completely forgotten the name of a book, or who does not remember it completely? Librarian Kumi Ito says they first use user-recalled keywords as clues. “There is a reference book for each topic, like food and that sort of thing, and we sometimes search (books) based on those. If we know when the visitor is reading the book, we can narrow it down. at the time of publication. ”

She says the hardest cases are when an adult searches for a book they read as a child. In addition to direct clues such as whether the story “appeared in a textbook” or “was an assignment,” sometimes a book can be found using seemingly irrelevant clues, such as “what things and what problems were at hand.” fashion ”when they read the book. “We’re trying to get clues through conversations,” Ito said of the detective work.

People are now able to search using the Internet and smartphones. But the internet is full of information, which can actually make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. Ito says that while libraries can also use the Internet for research, the strengths of libraries are that they can trace works cited and provide reliable information.

“At the library, we have a long history of using tools that we know will lead to what we are looking for. We provide referral services using both the internet and hard copy, ”she explained.

Fukui Prefectural Library’s carefully selected collection of 90 resolved cases of poorly memorized titles is published by Kodansha Ltd. and is on sale at bookstores across Japan. Its name translates to “The cat who died a million times: a collection of badly memorized titles”.

Ito says she hopes “the book is an opportunity for people to learn more about library work and reference services.”

(Japanese original by Mai Suganuma, Osaka City News Department)

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