The author analyses the challenging activities of Japanese libraries in this decade by launching two keywords; “product-sharing” and “outcome generation.” “Product-sharing” means that libraries share knowledge, skills, and records which are produced as the result of the services or in the process of activities. And “outcome generation” means that libraries generate any efficiency or effectiveness through their services to users. Using these concepts, reported are the current situation and aspects of Japanese libraries which try to make various contributions to the society; research and learning of the people, and education and training for professional librarians, and so on.
In the analysis, the author shows some examples of “product-sharing” at first, including the records of reference transaction and the multi-functioned online public access catalogue. Especially, focused is on the various possibility and adoptability of the Collaborative Reference Database System of the National Diet Library of Japan. This system is one of digital reference service in Japan, and the database of reference transaction records is expected to be useful for research and academic studyies as knowledge-base of professional librarians. And the system is also expected to be a platform for LIS education and professional development in the e-learning environment.
Secondly, as the examples of “outcome generation”, explained are the problem-solving-type activities, and provision of the collection about books on struggling against disease and illness. A few examples of outcome in the problem-solving-type activities are these; increase of sales in the services for shop managers, business persons, and entrepreneurs, contribution to affluent daily life by providing the local information services to residents and neighbourhoods, and etc. And for both the patients with serious cases and their family or those who nurse them, books about other persons’ notes or memorandum are the greatest support, and sometime healing. The author discuss the ‘raison d'être’ of these activities focusing on public libraries in Japan.