National / Social Issues

New Kindai University library aims to lure manga lovers to academic works

Kyodo

A university in western Japan will open a library next month that has an unusually large proportion of manga in its collection, school officials say.

The two-story Biblio Theater library at Kindai University in Osaka Prefecture is expected to have around 70,000 books, with about 22,000 manga sharing company with Japanese classics and newly published volumes.

The university hopes to draw the attention of manga lovers to more academic works that will be displayed alongside the comic books when it opens on April 6.

“We want to channel the curiosity of students who grew up with manga toward academic reading,” librarian Yumiko Oka said.

Unlike conventional libraries, the Biblio Theater will have curators arrange books in a way that emphasizes the connections between manga and other works.

Seigo Matsuoka, an editor in the publishing industry, arranged some of the sections in the library. He said he placed classic works of humorous manga, such as “Tensai Bakabon” (“The Genius Bakabon,” marketed overseas as “Meet the Boneheads”), which chronicles the exploits of a mischievous father and son, alongside the philosophical works of French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre.

On a shelf dubbed “Money talks,” Matsuoka inserted the manga “Naniwa Kinyudo,” roughly meaning “the financial world in Osaka,” along with books on the Japanese economy and the 2008 financial crisis.

“Manga is a great medium. It can touch people inside. We want students to enter into an unimaginable world of books,” Matsuoka said.

“At first I want them to acquire the habit of turning pages (by reading) manga,” and use that skill to expand their reading, he said.

The library is at the university’s main campus in Higashiosaka but separate from the central library. It will have a cafe, 24-hour study rooms and 30 small meeting rooms for students.

People unaffiliated with the university can also register to use the library.

“We want students to realize that books that appear to be difficult are also connected with manga, and become more familiar with them,” Oka said.

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