Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2011, 225(2)


Messages from a Medical Library in the Earthquake-Prone Zone


1Tohoku University Medical Library, Sendai, Japan

On March 11, 2011 at 14:46 (Friday), a massive magnitude-9.0 earthquake attacked large areas of northeastern Japan, including Sendai City. The huge earthquake generated catastrophic tsunamis, leading to unprecedented disasters in the seacoast areas of the Tohoku region (about 20,000 dead and missing persons). Upon this earthquake, in Tohoku University Medical Library, a 3-storey earthquake-resistant building, most of books fell down from bookshelves on the second and third floors, but the bookshelves remained steady because of the effective fixation. Many piles of fallen books blocked up the walkways and the narrow passages between the bookshelves; namely, books are easily transformed to dangerous weapons in a shaking building. Fortunately, all library staffs and users evacuated outside the building without even a scratch. Importantly, we were able to open the first floor of the Medical Library on March 14 (Monday), because the first floor has been used for the Learning Commons, with open space for group meetings. We thus provided students, medical staffs, and faculty members with the comfortable place during the early stage of the disasters. In fact, medical staffs and faculty members worked hard over weekend to deal with many patients and clear the post-quake confusions. Moreover, electricity, gas, or water supply was not yet restored in most areas of Sendai City. In the earthquake-prone zones, the Medical Library should function as a facility that not only enhances information gathering but also provides the place like an oasis of relaxation for students and medical staffs upon great earthquakes.

Key words —— disaster; earthquake; learning commons; library service; medical library


Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2011, 225, 77-80

Correspondence: Kayo Sakamoto, Tohoku University Medical Library, Seiryo-machi 2-1, Aoba-ku, Sendai, 980-8575 Japan.