What is the Collaborative Reference Database?

The Collaborative Reference Database is a database for research being constructed by the National Diet Library in cooperation with libraries throughout Japan.

Project Outline

The objective of the Collaborative Reference Database Project is to support the reference services of libraries and the research of general users by accumulating reference examples in public libraries, university libraries, school libraries, and special libraries, etc., and data on search guides, special collections, profiles of member libraries, and then sharing the data via the Internet.

Data Outline

The following four types of data are registered in the Collaborative Reference Database:

  • Reference Examples
    Records of question and answer services performed at member libraries
  • Search Guides
    How to search information resources on specific themes and topics
  • Special Collections
    Information about special collections of individual collections and rare books, etc. owned by member libraries
  • Profiles of Member Libraries
    Information on each member library participating in the reference collaboration

For data case by case, the following access levels have been established.

Data Outline
Access Level Intended User
General Access Accessible to anyone
Accessible to member libraries Accessible to individuals from member libraries
Individual libraries only Only accessible to individuals from the library registering the data.

Reference Examples Glossary

Reference examples are records of the reference services (question and answer service) provided by member libraries. They are descriptions that detail how a library answered a user's questions.

Main Contents

  • Questions: A list of the details of users' questions submitted to a library.
  • Answers: A list of the details of the answers a library provided to users' questions.
  • Answering Process: A list of the details of searches up to the point the library provided answers to the users' questions.
  • Creation date of case data: A list of the dates the library created the reference example data. Because new and newer information appears in succession, when reading reference examples, please be careful to note when the information was written.
  • Category of questioner: This describes the types of users who send questions to the library. Because the librarian presents the answer in a form to suit the needs of each user, the librarian may adapt the particulars of an answer for an adult to a different answer for a child for the same question.
  • Library: The name of the library that created the data of reference examples.

For the meanings of other items, please consult the Related Table of English Term Translations

  • The Reference Service (Question and Answer Service) is a service that introduces or provides bibliographies to users requesting materials and information. When gathering information is difficult, please consult the reference service of the library nearest to you. (These services may be called "Inquiry Counter" or "Reference Desk" among other names.)
  • The librarian selects reference example data from actual reference service records that can be accessed and provides them after editing out the personal information of the questioner and other non-pertinent information.
  • Because items in the creation policy for reference example data vary according to library, in some cases, no information other than the questions and answers as described above may be mentioned.

Search Guides Glossary

Search guides show methods for searching sources of information about specific themes and topics. They introduce fundamental sources of information one must understand before starting a search.

Main Contents

  • Search themes: These are details about the themes and topics treated in search guides. Themes and topics that have been selected are based on questions actually submitted to the library and for which user information demand is high.
  • Contents of the search guide: These allow one to first check the basic materials one must first consult when researching a particular theme.
  • Data creation date: The date the data was created. When new books, periodicals, or Internet information, etc. become available they are added to the search guides accordingly. However, there are instances in which updates may be delayed. As always, please be careful to note when the information was written.
  • Library: The name of the library that created the search guide.
  • Items described in the search guides chiefly consist of materials housed at that library or available information resources. Please note that materials and information resources mentioned in the search guides may not be available for use at a library near you.

Special Collections Glossary

  • Special Collections - Information about special collections owned by member libraries such as private collections and rare books, etc.

Main Contents

  • Collection name: The name of the special collection and the Japanese reading
  • Outline: What materials or groups of materials comprise the special collection.
  • Restrictions on use: Describes the restrictions for use of items in the special collection. If there are valuable materials in the special collection, in order to preserve them, they may only be made available within the library that owns them.
  • Library: The name of the library housing the special collection.

Profiles of Member Libraries Glossary

Information on each member library participating in the Collaborative Reference Database.

Main Contents

  • Contact Information: Contact information necessary for making inquiries to the library, including the physical address, telephone number, fax number, and homepage address of the library.
  • Restrictions on use: Libraries participating in this project not only include public libraries, but also university libraries, and special libraries. Details of any restrictions on use of materials or services are given here.