Kumamoto University Library
If you are not a student and Kumamoto University, it may not be possible to take books out of the library (I'm not sure what you would have to do in order to get that privilege), but anyone can go into the university library to read books there.
I suggest searching for books that you might want to view in the library before you go. You can do that at the following page:
This page looks like it is in Japanese, but notice that there is a place to click for "English version." The English menues are actually pretty good.
Be aware that if you want to be absolutely sure about whether or not you could actually have access to a particular book you found on the above search page that you would need to be able to understand the Japanese information listed with the book about where the book is housed and its status.
Kumamoto Gakuen University Library
As is the case with Kumamoto University, borrowing books may not be possible (or getting that permission might be difficult).
You can find general information in English here:
Though the page doesn't describe the process, at Kumamoto Gakuen University you just fill out little form each time you enter the library. Here's a page you can use to look for books:
Here, too, not all books that you find on the above page will be accessible in the main library. (You need to read the information in Japanese that shows where the book is housed, whether or not it is checked out, etc., to determine that.)
Though the collection is smaller, you can actually borrow books from public libraries like the Prefectural Library. The Prefectural Library now has a web page that allows you to search it's collection. The search page is only in Japanese but it should be possible for all of you who are interested to use it to search for books in English as long as your computer is capable of displaying Japanese characters. It needs to be able to display Japanese characters because, for some reason, the library has chosen to write the titles and authors of English books in the oversized English letters that are unique to Japanese fonts. Accordingly, if you don't have your browser set to view Japanese fonts, you won't be able to recognized any English.
Here's the address:
The rows are in the following order
After you type in your search word or words you can either click on "sagasu" which is show in hiragana or just hit your "return" key.
The page should work even if you type with normal English letters (though the display will be in the oversized letters of a Japanese font).
Now, I discovered a little trick that allows you to browse to see what books are available in different subject areas in Western languages at the Prefectural Library. First, what you need to do is look at the following page to determine the number for the subject area that interests you:
Let's assume that you're interested in English and American literature. The number for that is 930 (actually, 930 to 939). Now what you do is go to the search page for the Prefectural Library and type 930 into "bunrui kigo" category. This is marked in Japanese but if you don't read Japanese you can recognize it as the fifth input area from the top and the input area that does not have any other input areas on the same row.
When you hit "return" English works and works in other languages will come up first. This is due to a quirk in the alphabetizing of the Japanese and English letters in the Japanese font -- all the English letters come first. So, if there are any works that use the English alphabet with that call number they will come up first. To see subsequent pages, click on the "hyouji suru" button (the big button just about the items displayed for your search. Keep going until you start to come to thing in Japanese. When you come to a book in Japanese, you know that you've browsed all of the Western language books for that catalogue number.
Finally, after you've searched at 930, you could continue by searching at 931, then 932, etc. until you get to 939 or get bored, or find enough to read. It's a somewhat complicated process but this why you may find a few gems you would enjoy reading that you can take home and read at your leisure.
Here's the address and contact information for the library (taken from the International Foundation web site):
Kumamoto Prefecural Library and Contemporary Literature Centre:
Hours: 9:30 am - 7 pm, 9:30 am - 5 pm (weekends, national holidays)
Closed: Tuesdays, the last day of the month
Here's a page with a map in Japanese:
The City Library doesn't seem to have as many works in English as the Prefectural Library. I'll explain how to use the web search page, though, just in case there's a book or two there that somee of you may want to read.
If you click on the following page, you'll go to the search menu for the City Library:
Here, too, the order of the rows is
The characters are displayed in Japanese fonts, as is the case with the Prefectural Library site.
And here's the contact information from the International Foundation web site:
Kumamoto City Library
Hours: 9:30 am - 6 pm; 9:30 am-5 pm (weekends, national holidays)
Closed:Mondays, the last day of the month