Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians
The Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) was founded in Singapore in 1970 as the Conference of Southeast Asian Librarians.1 It was a regional body formed to provide a platform for librarians of Southeast Asian Nations to have dialogues and to promote cooperation.
CONSAL’s four specific objectives are: to establish and strengthen relations among librarians, libraries, library schools, library associations and related organisations in the region; to promote cooperation in the development of librarianship, library and information sciences, documentation, information and related activities in the region; to cooperate with other regional and international organisations, and other institutions in the support of common undertakings and interests of CONSAL; and to provide a platform for sharing and exchanging of information and experiences on issues in the field of librarianship, library and information sciences, documentation, information and related services in the region.2
CONSAL receives financial support from international organisations, governments and firms within the Southeast Asian region and organisations outside the region, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, the Commonwealth Foundation and the National Library of Australia. It also organises various fund-raising activities for further financial support.3
Among CONSAL’s completed regional projects are: Masterlist of Southeast Asian Microfilms, edited by Winarti Partaningrat (1978); Directory of Librarians in Southeast Asia, edited by Marina, G. Dayrit and Namnama P. Hidalgo (1980); and Southeast Asian Microfilms Newsletter, 1972-93, edited by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.4
Background and establishment
In 1969, a Conference on Southeast Asian Research Materials was held at Puntjak, near Jakarta, Indonesia, and was attended by eminent scholars, archivists and librarians.5 It was at this conference that the idea of forming a regional organisation for Southeast Asian Nations was conceived. The founders of CONSAL were said to have been librarians from five Asian countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – who had attended the conference.6
CONSAL was formally formed through the collaboration between the Library Associations of Singapore and Malaysia. The first CONSAL conference was held in Singapore on 14–16 August 19707 where its Constitution was adopted by delegates8 from the library professions in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In addition, representatives from Australia, China, the United Kingdom and the United States of America also participated as observers.9 By the time CONSAL III took place in 1975, there were five core member countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.10 CONSAL IV in 1978 saw it renamed the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians.11
CONSAL members take turns to host each conference. Conferences generally happen once every three years.12 The CONSAL executive board comprises three national members from each member country and is responsible for accomplishing CONSAL’s objectives. These include tasks such as prioritising recommendations and resolutions presented to the board, maintaining the official and financial records of CONSAL, as well as conducting reviews of programmes, projects or activities undertaken by CONSAL.13
In 1983, CONSAL VI was held in Singapore. This was the second time Singapore had hosted the conference. About 400 delegates participated in CONSAL VI, which was held at the Shangri-La Hotel from May 30 to June 3 to coincide with the National Library’s 25th anniversary celebrations. The conference was deliberately held two years after the previous session, instead of the usual three, to coincide with the celebrations.14 Jointly organised by The Library Association of Singapore and the National Library, the theme for the conference was The Library in the Information Revolution.15 One of the recommendations made during CONSAL VI was to consider the feasibility of reconstituting CONSAL as an ASEAN non-governmental organisation16 in order to receive potential funding as part of ASEAN’s Culture and Information division. However, such a move would mean that non-ASEAN member states could only be associate members of CONSAL.17 Proceedings of CONSAL VII suggested that this move did not happen, as it was stated that “CONSAL is a non-governmental organization and it does not come under the purview of national government within the region neither does it fall under the purview of ASEAN, SEAMEO or any other regional organization.”18 Brunei joined as a member from CONSAL X in 1996 and Cambodia and Vietnam rejoined at CONSAL XI in 2000 along with Laos.19 Membership reached 10 countries when Myanmar joined the group at CONSAL XII in 2000.20
In 1999, the Library Association of Singapore launched CONSAL Web. This website featured news, editorials and analysis of regional developments in libraries. With the formation of the CONSAL Secretariat in April 2000, the website was transferred to the Secretariat hosted by the National Library Board of Singapore. Following this, the new CONSAL Web, a learning and networking portal for librarians in the region, was launched on 24 April 2001 by David Lim, then Minister of State for Defence and Information and the Arts, at Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore.21
A permanent CONSAL secretariat was established in 2000. The Secretariat is responsible for coordinating CONSAL approved projects. Its formation was officially announced during by then Minister Lee Yock Suan during the joint opening of the 11th Congress of CONSAL, the inaugural Asia International Book Fair and the International Library Expo on 26 April 2000.22 The CONSAL Secretariat was hosted by Singapore for a period of three years from 2000 onwards. The first secretary-general of the CONSAL Secretariat was R. Ramachandran.23
Theme, host country and date of each CONSAL conference24
- CONSAL I: New Prospects for Southeast Asian Cooperation. Singapore, 14–16 August 1970.
- CONSAL II: Education and Training for Librarianship in Southeast Asia. Manila, Philippines, 10–14 December 1973
- CONSAL III: Integrated Library and Documentation Services Within the Framework of NATIS. Jakarta, Indonesia, 1–5 December 1975
- CONSAL IV: Regional Cooperation for the Development of National Information Services. Bangkok, Thailand, 5–9 1978.
- CONSAL V: Access to Information. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 25–29 May 1981.
- CONSAL VI: The Library in the Information Revolution. Singapore, 30 May–3 June 1983.
- CONSAL VII: Libraries for Countryside Development in Southeast Asia. Manila, Philippines, 15–21 February 1987.
- CONSAL VIII: New Challenges in Library Services in the Developing World. Jakarta, Indonesia, 11–14 June 1990.
- CONSAL IX: Future Dimensions and Library Development. Bangkok, Thailand, 2–7 May 1993.
- CONSAL X: Libraries in National Development. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 21–25 May 1996.
- CONSAL XI: Stepping into the New Millennium: Challenges for Library and Information Professionals. Singapore, 26–28 April 2000.
- CONSAL XII: Information Empowerment: Enhancing Knowledge Heritage. Berakas, Brunei Darussalam, 20–23 October 2003.
- CONSAL XIII: CONSAL at the Crossroads: Challenges for Greater Regional Cooperation. Manila, Philippines, 25–30 March 2006.
- CONSAL XIV: Towards Dynamic Libraries and Information Services in Southeast Asian Countries. Hanoi, Vietnam, 20–23 April 2009.25
- CONSAL XV: National Heritage: Preservation and Dissemination. Bali, Indonesia, 28–31 May 2012.26
- CONSAL XVI: ASEAN Aspirations: Libraries for Sustainable Advancement. Bangkok, Thailand, 10–13 June 2015.27
- CONSAL XVII: Next Generation Libraries: Collaborate and Connect. Naypyidaw, Myanmar, 2–5 May 2018.28
Heirwin Md Nasir
1. Library Association of Singapore, Singapore Libraries 1 (1971), 70–72. (Call no. RSING 020.5 SL)
2. “CONSAL Constitution,” Congress of SouthEast Asian Libraries, accessed 4 May 2018.
3. Le Thuy Duong, “A History of CONSAL,” 7 July 2008.
4. Khoo Siew Mun, ed., Memorable Journey: Commemorating 25 Years of CONSAL (Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians), 1970–95 (Kuala Lumpur: CONSAL X, 1996), 62. (Call no. RSEA 020.623259 CON)|
5. Khoo, Memorable Journey, 20.
6. Khoo, Memorable Journey, 21.
7. P. Lim Pui Huen, Lim Hong Too and Syed Ahmad bin Ali, et al., Proceedings of the First Conference of Southeast Asian Librarians: Held at the University of Singapore on 14th–16th August 1970 (Singapore: Published for Persatuan Perpustakaan Malaysia & Persatuan Perpustakaan Singapura by Chopmen Enterprises, 1972). (Call no. RSING 021.00959 CON)
8. “Regional Body of Libraries Formed,” Straits Times, 17 August 1970, 15. (From NewspaperSG)
9. Library Association of Singapore, Singapore Libraries 1, 70.
10. Khoo, Memorable Journey, 58.
11. Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, 4th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians on Regional Co-Operation for the Development of National Information Systems, June 5–9, 1970. Bangkok, Thailand (n. p., 1978). (Call no. RSING 021.650959 CON)
12. Congress of SouthEast Asian Libraries, “About CONSAL: History,” (From NLB’s Web Archive Singapore)
13. Congress of SouthEast Asian Libraries, “CONSAL Constitution.”
14. Khoo, Memorable Journey, 36.
15. “Sixth Meeting of Librarians Being Planned,” Straits Times, 14 April 1982, 10; “400 Librarians Meeting Here,” Straits Times, 29 May 1983, 15. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, The Library in the Information Revolution: Proceedings of the Sixth Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, Singapore, 30 May–3 June 1983. (1983) (Singapore: Maruzen Asia, 1983), 636. (Call no. RSING 021.00959 CON-[LIB])
17. “Congress of Librarians May Become Asean Group,” Straits Times, 4 June 1983, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians, Proceedings of the Seventh Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians / Manila, 15-21 February 1987 (Manila: Asia Foundation Philippines, 1987). (Call no. RSING 027. 059 CON)
19. Khoo, Memorable Journey, 3; V. Lee, “CONSAL XI: An Event for Librarians,” NTU Library Bulletin 9, no. 2 (June 2000), 10. (Call no. RSING 020.5 NTULB)
20. Lee Yock Suan, “The Joint Opening of the 11th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XI), Asia International Book Fair and International Library Expo” speech, 26 April 2000, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (National Archives of Singapore document no. 2000042602); “17th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XVII),” International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, 2–5 May 2018; Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Brunei, Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XII) = Persidance Pustakawan Asia Tenggara Ke-12 (Brunei: CONSAL, 2003), 9. (Call no. RSING q027.059 CON)
21. “Website to Link Librarians in the Region,” Straits Times, 25 April 2001, 3 (From NewspaperSG); National Library Board, Singapore, Annual Report 2001–2002 (Singapore: National Library Board, 2001), 23; David Lim Tik En, “The Joint Celebration of Emerging Trends in Library & Archival Service (e-tlas), Asia International Book Fair (AIBF), International Library Expo (ILE), Publishing and Library Asia (PAL), speech, Pan Pacific Hotel, 24 April 2001, transcript, Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. (From National Archives of Singapore document no. 2001042402)
22. Lee, “Joint Opening of the 11th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians.”
23. Congress of SouthEast Asian Libraries, “About CONSAL.”
24. National Library (Philippines) and Philippine Librarians Association, CONSAL at the Crossroads: Challenges for Greater Regional Cooperation, Manila, 25–30 March 2006 (Manila: Philippine Librarians Association, 2006). (Call no. RSEA q021.640959 CON-[LIB])
25. Nellie Haji Sunny and Vietnamese Library Association, Conference Proceedings: Towards Dynamic Libraries and Information Services in Southeast Asian Countries (Hanoi: Vietnamese Library Association, 2009). (Call no. RSEA 021.640959 CON-[LIB])
26. L. Sulistyo-Basuki, ed., National Heritage: Preservation and Dissemination: Proceedings of the 15th CONSAL Meeting and General Conference, Bali, Indonesia, 28–31 May 2012 (Jakarta: National Library of Indonesia, 2012). (Call no. RSEA 021.640959 CON-[LIB])
27. The 16th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians Meeting and General Conference (CONSAL XVI) (Bangkok: CONSAL XIV, 2015). (Call no. RSEA 025.210959 CON-[LIB])
28. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, “17th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL XVII).”
The information in this article is valid as at November 2018 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.