Virtual Reference with Japanese Digital Resources

Over the last several years, suggestions to shift our traditional reference activities to the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) had brought heated discussions among reference specialists in the World. In the United States, for example, a new project group has been formed by the Information Institute of Syracuse, and named the Virtual Reference Desk VRD ( to promote virtual reference activities through “Ask-a librarian” or “chat” interfaces.

Specifically for East Asian Languages, Ms. Sharon Domier of the University of
Massachusetts championed the Ask EASL site. However, there are many obstacles in promoting this effort, especially for Japanese reference specialists. In order to successfully operate VDR activities, full and smooth access to digital resources is the key issue.

As a Chair of Digital Resources Committee (DRC) for North American Coordinating Council On Japanese Library Resources (NCC), I have been working hard to promote availability and use of Japanese digital materials following the effort originated by Dr. Ellen Hammond at Yale University. For example, we have produced a memo “Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Venders of Japanese Digital Resources in the North American Libraries and Scholarly Communities,” I have been in close touch with providers of digital resources to communicate ideas, and actively organizing digital database workshops at the Library of Congress.

The Library of Congress is one of the world's leaders for promoting VRD and digitalization efforts having been the largest library in the world. In my talk, I will discuss current trends in VRD, and will focus my discussion on the specifics of Japanese Reference activities using Japanese digital resources.