There are five libraries in Kawagoe. The Chuo Library is generally referred to as Kawagoe Library, as the principle and largest of the five. The building is quite old and a lot of their books, particularly the English ones, are archaic and have the smell to prove it. But it is a great resource for foreigners living in Kawagoe or the neighbouring towns.
Kawagoe Library aka City Chuo Library
City Chuo Library is situated in Sankubocho, Kawagoe, about a 20 minute walk from Kawagoe station. They have quite a good selection of English books for children, located on the ground floor.
On the same floor they also have a small selection of English novels for adults. I am member of quite a few libraries in Saitama and Kawagoe Library is the only one I have come across to date that has fiction and non-fiction English books for adults.
Judging by the collection they haven’t got any new titles in quite sometime, but I can’t complain: there is enough of a choice for me to get a few months of reading out of.
Kawagoe Library membership
To become a member you need proof of your address in Japan in the form of an alien registration card or Japanese license. The card is valid for the 5 principal libraries in Kawagoe.
Kawagoe Library Borrowing Books
You can borrow up to 10 books for 2 weeks upon securing membership. Their system also allows you to return borrowed books to any of the 5 city libraries. These libraries include the one at the Kurasse building beside Kawagoe station and the large Nishi library, which also has a good selection of English children’s books. Like most of the libraries in Japan, the City Chuo Library has an online system where you can check availability of book and reserve them in advance. The system is currently only available in Japanese. If you wish to use the online facilities you need to create a 4 digit pin number when you apply for your membership. Membership is instant upon filling out a form.
Kawagoe City Chuo Library Facilities
On the ground floor they have little tables with chairs for children to read at and “stadium seating” (3 rows! Pictured above) for storytime and kamishibai performances. There is a nursing area beside the steps pictured above.
On the second floor (third floor) there is a screening / cinema room where they have periodic film showings about twice a month. On this floor there is a toilet with a baby changing unit.
They also have the “book recycle corner” up there too.
The library is open 6 days a week, generally closing on Mondays. Tuesday to Friday it opens from 9.30am to 7pm. Saturday, Sunday and public holidays it opens from 9.30am to 6pm. The library occasionally closes for days on end for system updates.
Access Kawagoe Library
There is a parking lot in the basement of the library as well as a few car parking spaces on the ground level.
The library is quite close to City Hall, so you can get any public bus to the city hall and walk from there. The nearest train stations are Hon-Kawagoe station on the Seibu Shinjuku line and Kawagoe Shi Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.