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On this page: Collection Overview | How to Use the Collection -- Start with the Index ; When to Use the Card Files ; How to Access the File Boxes

Collection Overview

The John Roberts Collection is a closed collection housed in the special collections area of the Asia Collection at Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii. The collection does not circulate, and must be used on-site. Its present organization was devised by the donor for his working needs as a journalist. It is idiosyncratic, but those who have used the collection have been able to find materials once they understood its organizational principles. The materials are in English and cover a wide range of political and economic topics concerning Japan that were newsworthy, or potentially newsworthy, from the late 1950s through the early 1990s. The range includes international issues, domestic issues, and various sorts of scandals and hidden activities that would potentially be of interest to an American investigative journalist living in Japan and working independently.

How to Use the Collection

To access materials in the John Roberts Collection at site, please read the Access Policy and make an appointment in advance. (Access Policy Japanese version)

There are three inter-related and cross-referenced parts to the collection.

The bulk of the collection's materials are files, papers, and clipping scrapbooks packed in large file boxes marked with letters and sometimes short abbreviations. These are housed in the closed area of the collection. They must be requested from the librarian or library assistant, and used in the reading area of the special collections room.

The collection also contains a large number of card file drawers that contain index cards or small slips of paper. The card file drawers are labeled using the same system of letters and short abbreviations as the file boxes. Inside the drawers, there are often file guides with more specific titles to organize the contents. The index cards and slips of paper contain some degree of content, but they also are marked with codes that identify the file box from which the material was derived. The card files constitute an elaborate cross reference to the materials in the file boxes. The card files are located in the reading area of the special collections room, and may be used to help identify the particular file box or scrapbook within a file box that contains the desired materials. They also contain a fair amount of useful and interesting content in their own right.

The index explains the letter and abbreviation system by which the collection is organized. It is based on a document that was shipped with the collection, but in preparing the index for this website we have added cross-references to make it easier to find materials by topic. The index is posted on the Roberts Collection web pages in the website of the Japanese Collection at the University of Hawaii. You may have found the Roberts Collection through a search engine on the Internet, or you may search it on the website of the Japanese Collection at Hamilton Library from any computer terminal with world-wide web access. There is also a terminal in the reading area of the Asia Collection special collections room where you may search the index as you prepare to use the materials.

Start with the Index

The basic strategy for using the Roberts Collection is first to consult the index on the website. The index has four columns: CODE, CATEGORY, CONTENT, and SEE ALSO.

The CODE column at the far left side of the index gives the alphabet letter under which materials are located in the file boxes and card file drawers. You will need this code letter in order to search the card file or request materials from the file boxes.

The CATEGORY column of the index lists the primary categories into which Roberts organized his materials. The categories are in alphabetical order and thus correspond to the order of the CODE column at the far left. If the term is all in upper case letters, it is a category Roberts created and used as part of his own alphabetical system, and there will be a corresponding letter in the CODE column. We have supplemented this column with other words in lower case that Roberts included in his descriptions of the materials. These cross-referenced entries do not have a corresponding letter in the CODE column because they are actually filed under a different category name and letter.

Begin your index search by looking in the category column for the topic you want to find. If the topic is written all in capital letters, write it down and also note the letter in the CODE column. The letter and all-caps term correspond directly to the labels on the card file drawers and the file boxes of collection materials. If your topic is in lower-case letters, look across the index row to the far right See Also column to learn the term under which the material is actually catalogued. Then find that term in the category column and write down the CODE letter and the all-caps term for the category.

The CONTENT column of the index (third from left) contains Roberts' description of what topics are included in a particular category. These are the terms we have added in lower case as cross-references in the CATEGORY column. A quick reading of the index will demonstrate that the letters or abbreviations Roberts used to catalog his materials are not always intuitive, and these content descriptions help to clarify the range of topics filed under a particular letter. The descriptions are not comprehensive, but they do provide useful clues to the organization of the collection and suggest where you might find materials on topics that are not listed directly in the index.

The SEE ALSO column (far right) of the index was also initially prepared by Roberts to suggest additional categories under which related material may be found. This column also shows where to find the materials for lower-case terms that we have added as cross-references to the CATEGORY column, since they are filed under a different letter of the alphabet in Roberts' system. If you find a term in the CATEGORY column that seems to meet your needs, be sure to check the SEE ALSO column for further information before requesting material from the file boxes in the closed area of the collection.

When to Use the Card Files

In addition to the basic topical organization of the collection, materials on individuals, companies, and some organizations are cross-referenced by name in the card files. If you are looking for the name of an individual, company, or organization, first check the index to see if it is listed separately. If not, check the card file under the appropriate letter of the alphabet. Individuals may also be listed under PERSON, and companies and business groups under E for Economic Orgs.

The card files also contain short excerpts of materials from the files, which may either be filed under their primary topic letter, or may be cross-referenced here under a different topic than their primary location in the files or scrapbooks. Virtually every slip of paper in the card file also has a letter and number code that identifies exactly where in the files the source material can be found. The card file is thus a good place to begin if you are looking for a name, or a useful way to expand on the basic letter category listed in the index to search for more specific content. Since there are sometimes several file boxes under one category, the card files can help you narrow your search to the right box. If the material is in a clipping scrapbook, the card file will usually tell you not only the box number but also the scrapbook number and even the page.

How to Access the File Boxes

Once you have identified the letter and category name of the material you want, give this information to the librarian or library assistant in the special collections room and the box of material will be brought to the reading area for your use. You may use the file materials only in the reading area of the special collections room, and only between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays. If you find material that you would like to have photocopied, the librarian or library assistant will take the materials out and make the copies for you, using the copying machines located in the general reading area of the Asia Collection. These machines are coin or card operated, so you should first purchase a copy card to give to the librarian. The copy cards are debit cards which hold a specific amount of money that is automatically debited by the copy machine. If the card runs out of funds, you may add more money to it at special machines found throughout the library.

Please notify the librarian or library assistant when you have finished with the materials so they can be returned to the closed area of the special collections room.

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Contact: Mitsutaka Nakamura
Japan Specialist Librarian
e-mail: mitsutak@hawaii.edu
Asia Collection, University of Hawaii at Manoa Library
2550 The Mall, Honolulu, HI 96822 U.S.A.