Michaela Kelly
Harvard RIJS

The Specific Limits of Library Scholarship on Japan for Unaffiliated and Adjunct Researchers

With a glut of Ph.D. trained researchers seeking ever-fewer tenure-track positions in Japan and the U.S. (the two countries I will discuss), open access and online, digital resources made available to researchers without regard to their academic affiliation have become ever more crucial to all fields, but the field of Japan studies in particular. With instructors and institutions prioritizing the availability of digital humanities presentations, open-access databases and other digital resources for themselves and their students, in many ways, researchers today have more access to Japan studies materials for free and from anywhere than ever before. Despite this increasingly varied set of resources however, in interviews with 10 unaffiliated researchers (recent graduates, job seekers and non-profit employees), I found that they struggled to conduct research and often felt stymied in the confines of the open-access digital realm. In some cases, their lack of access to institutional support made human subject research difficult, while for others, the cost of accessing poorly described archival or foreign language material presented a barrier that made research difficult.

This paper presents the perspectives and problems as identified by these researchers, each working on Japan or Asia-related projects without formal access to academic institutional support.  It describes the workarounds they developed between colleagues, kind anonymous strangers and other social networks, and suggests the steps that librarians and other resource specialists in the field might consider taking to diversify research and democratize access to the resources held in their institutions. Building on the concept of the Library of Things, this paper argues for a Library of Things meant to support the unaffiliated Japan studies researcher.