Number of Libraries Increasing in Japan

Education Society Culture

Across Japan, there are approximately 3,360 regional libraries, used by more than 33 million registered patrons borrowing 650 million books a year.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology released statistics showing that there were 3,360 libraries and similar facilities in Japan as of October 1, 2018. This sees an added 29 facilities since the last statistics were published in 2015 and an increase of 618 since this survey began in 2002. Despite the falling birthrate and aging population, it is a significant rise over the past two decades.

By one measure that counts people multiple times, 177.9 million users borrowed books from libraries in 2017 (one person, for example, checking out books 10 times a year counts as 10 users). There were 33.8 million registered patrons who borrowed 653.8 million books.

Elementary school children alone accounted for 3.4 million registrants and, of those, 19.0 million users borrowed 197.3 million books.

Compared to the results of the last survey in 2014, the total number of registrants saw an increase of 2.42 million (7.7%). However, the number of users and books being checked out dropped slightly.

In 2018, social education facilities overall, including libraries, museums, and community centers, totaled 90,311, a rise of 318 from the last survey in 2015. However, since the peak in 2005 of 94,998, there has been a drop of 4,687 such facilities.

Community centers and similar facilities accounted for 14,281 of the total nationwide in 2018. This is 560 fewer than in the 2015 survey and, the number has fallen by 3,901 compared to 2005. In contrast, museums are gradually on the increase with 1,286 in 2018.

Social Education Facilities in Japan

Year Overall Libraries Museums Community Centers
2002 94,392 2,742 1,120 18,819
2005 94,998 2,979 1,196 18,182
2008 94,540 3,165 1,248 16,566
2011 91,221 3,274 1,262 15,399
2015 89,993 3,331 1,256 14,841
2018 90,311 3,360 1,286 14,281

Created by based on social education statistics from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: © en-dehors / Pixta.)

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