Library Holdings, Duplication and Digitization: Resources on the History of the Ashio Copper Mine

Earlier this year I published a short piece in The Digital Orientalist entitled “Digital Resources for Studying the History of the Ashio Copper Mine.” Based on the work I am conducted as part of a research project on the Ashio Copper Mine Pollution Incident (J. Ashio kōdoku jiken 足尾鉱毒事件) funded by a small grant from the Mining History Association, I explored some of the repositories where digitized texts and manuscripts pertaining to the history of the Ashio Copper Mine can be found and introduced readers to the Ashio dōzan shashin dētabēsu 足尾銅山写真データベス (E. Ashio Copper Mine Photograph Database). Today I will continue my exploration of resources pertaining to the history of the Ashio Copper Mine with a particular focus on the physical holdings of different libraries, their duplication, and digitization.

During The Ashio Copper Mine Incident: Socio-Political Causes and Reactions project, I have thus far visited nine libraries or archives, as well as a number of museums without archival (or at least publicly accessible archival) holdings. Each has offered different processes for the duplication and/or digitization of texts for personal use. I have described this in the below table.

Library/ArchiveLocationDuplicationDigitizationBooking
Furukawa Ashio Museum of HistoryNikkō, Tochigi PrefectureNo copy facilities.I was able to make some digital copies with my smart phone.No
Ibaraki Prefectural LibraryMito, Ibaraki PrefecturePhotocopier (Self-service). 10¥ per B&W sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No
Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History ArchivesMito, Ibaraki PrefecturePhotocopier (Staff copying). 10¥ per B&W sheet. Application form required.Photography acceptable. Application form required.Yes
Ōta City Central LibraryŌta, Gunma PrefecturePhotocopier (Self-service). 10¥ per B&W sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No
Sano City LibrarySano, Tochigi PrefecturePhotocopier (Staff copying). 10¥ per B&W sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No
Sano City MuseumSano, Tochigi PrefectureNo copy facilities.Photographing manuscripts is acceptable. A camera stand and other equipment is provided. Booking is required.Yes
Tatebayashi City LibraryTatebayashi, Gunma PrefecturePhotocopier (Staff copying). 10¥ per B&W A4 sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No
Tochigi City Fujioka LibraryTochigi, Tochigi PrefecturePhotocopier (Staff copying). 10¥ per B&W A4 sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No
Tochigi Prefectural LibraryUtsunomiya, Tochigi PrefecturePhotocopier (Self-service). 10¥ per B&W sheet. Application form required.Did not enquire.No

All the collections I have visited have, therefore, offered some sort of opportunity to duplicate or digitize materials for personal use. Most appear to favour more traditional photocopying over scanning and photography. The different systems in place can influence our approaches as researchers to the holdings of a library of archive. Whilst scanning or photographing is often free, it can become a tiring task when we are using a large number of materials. The same can be said of self-service copying, which may carry additional worries of damaging the materials that we are using. On the other hand, whilst copying done by the library staff on our behalf allows us to invest our time and worries into other parts of the research process, it can also feel that we are burdening other people. Problems may also arise due to different interpretations of the law – there were several libraries which refused to copy certain materials on a legal basis whilst others interpreted matters differently. Given all this, I often found that I preferred to use locations where I was responsible for the copying or digitizing.

In addition to different systems for the duplication and digitization of materials, each library and archive had different types of holdings. I have described these in the table below.

Library/ArchiveHoldingsCataloguedNotes
Furukawa Ashio Museum of HistoryMostly secondary sources, but also extensive collections of photographs, maps, and rare handwritten reports.NoThere is desk space despite being a museum.
Ibaraki Prefectural LibraryMostly secondary sources. Particularly useful for material pertaining to the effects of the Ashio Copper Mine Incident in Ibaraki Prefecture.Yes 
Ibaraki Prefectural Museum of History ArchivesSome primary sources (particularly early newspaper materials). Materials pertaining to Ashio are limited, but materials relating to the Hitachi Copper Mine are extensive.Yes 
Ōta City Central LibraryComparatively small collection comprising mostly of secondary sources. Most resources pertaining to the effects of the Ashio Copper Mine Incident in Gunma Prefecture.Yes 
Sano City LibraryExtensive collections of secondary sources pertaining to Ashio and the responses of Tanaka Shōzō in particular.YesTime limit of one hour per visit when I visited, which made the library effectively unusable. I’m unclear if this was a pandemic counter measure.
Sano City MuseumExtensive collections of manuscripts including the personal correspondence of Tanaka Shōzō and others involved in campaigning the Ashio Copper Mine Incident.Yes – Can only be accessed from a computer in the library.Many of the materials written by Tanaka Shōzō are reprinted in Tanaka Shōzō Zenshū, 19 vols. (1977).
Tatebayashi City LibraryExtensive collection of secondary sources, and small collection of manuscripts. The collection is extremely thorough and should not be missed by anyone interested in the history of the Ashio Copper Mine.Yes 
Tochigi City Fujioka LibraryMedium sized collection of secondary sources mostly pertaining to the effects of the Ashio Copper Mine Incident in the local area.Yes 
Tochigi Prefectural LibraryMedium sized collection of secondary sources mostly pertaining to the history of the Ashio Copper Mine and the effects of the Ashio Copper Mine Incident in Tochigi Prefecture.YesParking is expensive.

I used the Furukawa Ashio Museum of History and Ibaraki Prefectural Library most extensively. Furukawa Ashio Museum of History offered a lot of freedom to use and digitize the materials, and the Ibaraki Prefectural Library is the close to my home. Despite this, I think that Tatebayashi City Library holds the most extensive and perhaps most useful collections that I have seen thus far. It has a large number of secondary sources and a nice collection of manuscript sources too. The archivist was also extremely helpful and knowledgeable. The collections at Sano City Museum are also fascinating and a must see for those interested in manuscripts beyond their textual content.

Conclusions

The study of the Ashio Copper Mine had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. As such, few materials have been digitized and trips to the libraries and archives are necessitated. The duplication and sometimes the digitization of materials during visits to the libraries and archives is possible for personal use, but there doesn’t appear to be any large scale efforts at present to make manuscripts pertaining to the Ashio Copper Mine more avaliable online. I hope that today’s exploration of some of the holdings pertaining to the history of the Ashio Copper Mine in libraries and archives in Tochigi, Gunma, and Ibaraki will help those wanting to conduct similar research to plan their own projects more adequately and understand the different systems and limitations they will likely face at each library or archive.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s