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Memorable Libraries Around the World: Ikawi City, Japan

October 1 2021
Image by Ken Lee on Flickr
Image by Ken Lee on Flickr

Ikawi City’s Picture Book Library (aka the Museum of Picture Books) features about 1,300 picture books by authors from around the world. The picture books are all geared toward very young children, as the library serves three local preschools Mondays to Thursdays (Fridays are when the public can drop by to take a gander). 

While there is much to praise about the overall visual design (it evidently has beautiful ocean views from all angles and a very relaxing atmosphere), the design feature that truly stands out is how the library’s collection is stored: instead of being shelved with the spines facing forward, all the books have their covers displayed. This might seem like a quirky decision but there is actually a lot of method to this apparent madness. 

Having the covers facing out is following children’s librarianship best practices. Ideally, every library section for young children should have its collection stored in the same way as the Picture Book Library. Most libraries don’t have the means to do so, but in a perfect world that’s how picture books should be stored. The reasoning behind this has to do with making searching the collection user-friendly by catering to its patrons’ information-seeking behaviour. You see, while adults look for books primarily based on titles, authors, and genres, young children pick books based on the content on the cover.

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