She turned her Glendale home into a public library of Japanese literature

A good book should never go unread.

So when Mitsuko Roberts began going through the many tomes in her Glendale home and tallied at least 200 Japanese books, it bothered her that so many were sitting on the shelf, unappreciated. Many had come from Japan, mailed to her from her mother who lives in Tokyo, where Roberts was born and raised.

"I was thinking, this is such a shame," she said of the unread words.

Soon, she was telling other parents of students enrolled in Verdugo Woodlands Elementary — where three of her children attend — about her unused books.

Some parents expressed similar feelings about Japanese books collecting dust in their homes, so they decided to pool their books and open a library.

And thus the Okanoue Library was born a little more than a year ago. After reviewing hundreds of titles, Roberts and her friends selected 300 and opened the library in May 2015.

A few times a month, Roberts welcomes guests to her home so they can peruse the offerings and check out books and DVDs to return later.

Okanoue Library has grown. It's now equipped with a catalog of 700 items, including fiction and nonfiction books, DVDs and comic books for young and older students.

Roberts, who worked with Glendale school officials several years ago to establish the dual-language Japanese program at Verdugo Woodlands Elementary, is a huge proponent of bilingual education.

She said the library is a way to provide more access to students to expand their familiarity with speaking, reading and writing in Japanese.

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