Waseda University Library is one of the largest and most extensive university libraries in Japan. Its history stretches back to 1882, when the University was originally founded as the Tokyo Senmon Gakko.

Today, it has more than 20 libraries, including the Central Library, four Campus Libraries (Takata Sanae Memorial Research Library, Toyama Library, Science & Engineering Library, Tokorozawa Library), Faculty Libraries, and the Student Reading Rooms. In addition to these institutional libraries, there is an online library system that students and faculty members can access from both inside and outside the campus to search and reserve books!

In this article, we will start with the general overview of the library facilities and procedures, culminating with my personal experience with the library system as an international student.

The Central Library

File:Waseda University - Central Library.JPG
Photo by XIIIfromTOKYO on Wikimedia Commons
“Waseda University – Central Library”

The building for the Central Library was opened in 1991 to celebrate the 100th year anniversary since the establishment of the university. With exception of some rare documents, the library’s impressive collection of approximately 4 million books is displayed on open shelves for on-the-spot access by students and faculty members!

How to Find It

Upon entering the Central Library from its main entrance, students must scan their Student ID cards at the automated entrance gates on the left hand side. As a side note, the main entrance is already on the 2nd floor, which is often confused as the 1st. Knowing this will make navigating through the Central Library slightly less confusing (I learned this the hard way…)!

How to Borrow and Return

Once inside the library, students are free to look at any book on the open shelves. There are multiple computer desks and study areas scattered within the building, allowing students to read the books without checking them out. For such cases, students must return the books to the Book Returning Shelves located near the stacks. In the event of taking the books outside the library building, students are required to complete the borrowing procedures at the circulation desk (貸出カウンター)located on the 2nd floor. If the borrowed materials are newspaper articles, magazines, or reference books, students must return them to their original spots on the shelves.

Personal Tour

For those who are interested in exploring the Central Library in person, the library takes requests for individual and group tours! For individual tours, drop-in requests are welcomed and regulated by the Information Counter next to the main entrance on the 2nd floor. Each tour is approximately 30 minutes and covers the open spaces of the 2nd and 3rd floors. The library only accepts guests who are 16 year of age or older, and junior high school students must be accompanied by an adult supervisor. It also asks guests to remain quiet throughout the entire library tour, for university students will be using the space for reading and studying. Those who wish to have group tours must contact the Department of Administrative Service in advance to schedule their appointment and go over group-specific details.

Other Locations

In addition to the Central Library, there are Campus Libraries, Student Reading Rooms, and Faculty Libraries located throughout the campuses. While the Student Reading Rooms and Faculty Libraries are scattered throughout the university in various buildings, there are four main libraries that are located in each of the four campuses.

4 Campus Libraries

The S. Takata Memorial Research Library (Takata Library for short) is located in Building No. 2 of the main campus. While the entrance is on the third floor, this library has 8 total floors of open stacks for faculty, staff, and graduate students.

The Toyama Library is located in Building No. 38 of the newly renovated Toyama Campus. It provides documents for both general undergraduate and research specific students, which can be borrowed at the circulation counter on the 1st floor.

As its name suggests, the Science and Engineering Library provides documents and references for students in the field of science and engineering. It is located in Building No. 51 of the Nishi Waseda Campus.

Finally, the Tokorozawa Library is located in Building No. 100 of the Tokorozawa Campus, farthest of the four campuses. It houses more than 180,000 books and 1,800 journals, mostly on the human and sport sciences.

WINE: The Online Portal

WINE is the Waseda University Library’s main search interface for scholastic collections and other written references. They provide both English and Japanese translations of the website!

By signing in with their student ID and password, students can search the materials held by the Waseda University Library (books, magazines, etc.) and check the holdings, availability, and locations from anywhere! Additionally, the new WINE enables students to search electronic resources subscribed by Waseda University, along with other electronic journals and references.

To search for materials on WINE, students can type in their keywords in the search bar with the appropriate language, resource type, availability, and location filters. The website takes this information and displays all possible search result within seconds, including the books’ authors, dates of publication, locations, availability status, and even citations! From here, students can find their desired material and reserve it online to pick up at the designated libraries. How convenient!

A Student’s Perspective

To close this article, I would like to share my personal experience of the Waseda University’s library system.

When I first entered the Waseda University in September of 2019, I was rather reluctant to borrow from the libraries. Would I understand the Japanese library system? Are there English books available? Later, when I talked to my classmates, I learned that these questions are common doubts shared amongst most incoming international students. In fact, the university understands this, and staff members provide various support systems to encourage the use of Waseda’s exquisite library facilities!

For me, it was the Library Orientation Session held during on of our freshman seminar classes that eased my reluctance towards using the library. About midway through the first semester, some staff members from the Central Library gave my class of international freshmen a detailed seminar with PowerPoint handouts, English lectures, and do-it-yourself navigation activities on the online library website. This was when I discovered that library has millions of English books in addition to their Japanese collections! Through this brief one hour session, I felt more confident in my abilities to use the library!

The professors of most international programs also encourage the use of libraries by purposefully assigning research work that requires borrowed books. In fact, this was why I borrowed my first set of books from the library! While I heavily sighed when I first received the assignment, I am now thankful that such opportunities were pushed onto me!

Is It Worth the Hassle?

Definitely! Of course, initially borrowing a book from the grand and prestigious Waseda Library can be quite intimidating. For me, it seemed easier to collect information from sources like web journals, blogs, and online articles. But the depth and validity of books, as well as their unique perspectives that mirror that of their professionally qualified authors, make them a superior alternative to most academic sources.

So let us all grab a book in our hands, puff out our chests, and strut confidently towards the register counter of the Waseda University Library!


“WINE Web OPAC Menu (Japanese).” WINE Web OPAC Menu (Japanese), wine.wul.waseda.ac.jp/.

“About the Library.” Waseda University Library, Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/library/en/libraries/.

“Home.” Waseda University, www.waseda.jp/top/en/.