The current General Library was built in 1928, courtesy of a 4 million yen donation from John Rockefeller Jr., after the original structure was destroyed by fire in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. Putting the lessons from the fire into practice, it was constructed with a robust steel-reinforced concrete frame and its exterior design took on gothic elements, complete with arches. As the building is endowed with such historical significance, the New Library Plan will only renovate the interior whilst preserving the existing structure and exterior. This will establish a bright and open space for the stacks, helping to create an environment that is comfortable and conducive to browsing, reading and research.
The historical overview of the library is here periodized into two separate eras: “pre-earthquake” and “post-earthquake”. The latter is then further divided into a “reconstruction” phase and the years”during and after the war”.
Chronological History of the University of Tokyo General Library
Chronological History of the University of Tokyo General Library.
A new brick-built library (the Imperial University of Tokyo Library) is constructed.
To deal with the significant increase in new acquisitions, in 1907 further stack space is added.
The library is completely destroyed by fire in the Great Kanto Earthquake and the majority of its holdings, totaling 760,000 at the time, are reduced to ashes.
The library is rebuilt with funds donated by J. Rockefeller Jr. Following the disaster, a large number of book donations begin to be received from both within Japan and abroad.
The library manages to escape being damaged by the Pacific War air raids that destroyed large parts of Tokyo.
As part of reforms carried out by the library president, Hideo Kishimoto, large-scale renovations are undertaken to improve the functioning of the library and reference rooms are newly added. Following this, it is renamed ‘General Library’.
Large-scale renovations of the General Library are undertaken, including expanding the open shelf area and reinforcing the basement stacks.
The New Library Project is in progress.