Using the Collection
Digitized items in the Tule Lake Japanese Language Library Collection can be accessed through the UCLA Library Digital Collections. Digitization of the material culture traces is ongoing, and the digital library will grow as more volumes are completed. Contact the Japanese Studies Librarian, Tomoko Bialock, for access to physical copies.
About the Collection
The Tule Lake Japanese Language Library (Tsūri Rēki Nihongo Toshokan ツーリレーキ日本語圖書館) was conceptualized, created and administered by wrongfully incarcerated Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants at the Tule Lake Segregation Center in Newell, California (Block 46, Barracks 8) between November 26, 1943 and November 30, 1945 during WWII. It housed roughly 7,000 volumes and at its peak had a circulation of over 17,000 volumes loaned per month and fostered intellectual activity, social engagement and a quiet space for reflection. The majority of the collection was donated by those who had come to Tule Lake with only what they could carry, with some additional contributions from other incarceration sites. The collection was established and run by a subgroup of the Tsūri Rēki Danjo Seinendan 鶴嶺湖男女青年團 (“Tule Lake Young Men and Women’s Group”). It can be contextualized as a heritage, diaspora and/or prison collection.
Donated by the Japanese Language School Unified System (Kyodo System, 日本語学園協同システム) in 1999, UCLA has the only known archive of materials from this historic library, currently holding 1,947 volumes. The material culture of these texts can tell us much about the paths the books traveled before their arrival at Tule Lake, logistics of the systems the volunteer librarians developed, innovative wartime preservation methods of well-loved materials and U.S. governmental monitoring and censorship of Japanese language texts. Many of the volumes also contain the original checkout cards with borrowers’ signatures and barracks addresses; the collection includes 1,205 of these cards.
Related News & Resources
- about Hear UCLA Library experts discuss the historical and cultural significance of the collection, as well as the digitization process.
- default This curated online exhibit uses representative examples to describe and contextualize the collection's material culture traces.
- default Resources to databases, e-resources and course guides in Japanese studies.