PhotoLibraries FAQ

What is PhotoLibraries?

It’s a list of mainly museum libraries that have a good collection of photo books and magazines. It’s a good place to see out-of-print photo books or to do research on Japanese photography.

Which libraries have the best collection of photography books?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, JCII Library, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), and the Yokohama Museum of Art libraries. In Osaka, the Saito Media Library has a very large collection of photo books. And in Hokkaido, the Hakodate Photo Archives is also nice. (All listed in PhotoLibraries.)

Can anybody use the museum library?

Yes, the museum libraries are open to the public.

Do I have to pay to use the museum library?

No, the library is free. You do not have to pay museum admission to enter the library.

At the museum libraries, can I borrow books?

No materials can be taken outside the library. You have to do all your reading inside the library. However, photocopying services are available at cost. Photocopying services are usually available until 30 or 60 minutes before the library closes. Check with the library clerk for the exact time. You may have to fill in a simple form to photocopy library materials. (There may or may not be a do-it-yourself photocopying machine.)

For doing research on Japanese photography, which libraries have the most materials in English?

The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo), and the Yokohama Museum of Art libraries have a substantial collection of art- and photography-related magazines in English, but there are still very few books in English on Japanese photography. If you want to do any substantial research on Japanese photography, Japanese reading ability will be essential.

Through the Internet, can I do an online search of the library’s holdings?

It might be possible. Check the museum’s Web site if you can read Japanese. A search for books can usually be done with a computer terminal at the library.

What about the public libraries, do they have photography books too?

Neighborhood public libraries will usually have photography books. You can borrow the books usually for 2 weeks. To borrow books, you must have a library card which means you must be a local resident to be able to apply for one.

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Philbert Ono

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