Registration open for SEALG Conference and Annual General Meeting, Marseille, 15-16 June 2023

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The SEALG Conference and Annual General Meeting taking place in Marseille on 15-16 June 2023 is approaching fast. Attendance of the event is free, but registration is required and can be completed in a few quick steps online on the SEALG website.

Provisional Program of the Conference and Annual General Meeting

Venue: Maison Asie Pacifique, Aix-Marseille Université, 3, place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille Cedex
8:30 Welcoming participants
9:00 Round table: Recent information and libraries activities 2022-2023
10:00 Coffee break
10:15 Annual General Meeting
12:00 Lunch
14:00 Paper presentations and discussion
15:30 Coffee break
17:00 End of day 1

FRIDAY, 16 June
Venue: Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer 29, Chemin du Moulin de Testas, CS 50062, 13182 AIX-EN- PROVENCE Cedex 5
8:45 Bus transfer from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence
9:30 Visiting the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer (Aix-en-Provence), Southeast Asian Collections
11:00 Bus and train to the Blue Coast for lunch at a meridional restaurant
14:00 Round table discussion: SEA librarianship in the digital age
16:00 Opportunity for a walk in the Calanques at the Blue Coast

SEALG Annual Meeting 2023 in Marseille

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This year’s Annual Meeting of SEALG will take place at Maison Asie-Pacifique in the sunny city of Marseille, France, on Thursday 15 June and Friday 16 June 2023.
The two-day event will begin with a round table on recent library activities and the annual general meeting on Thursday morning, followed by a panel session for the presentation of selected papers on library and archive related topics and collections in the afternoon.

On Friday morning we will visit the Archives d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence to see a selection of their materials related to Southeast Asia. In the afternoon, we are planning a thematic round table to allow time for follow-up discussions on the topics of the panel session. After the round table, we will have time for networking while going for a walk along the stunning blue bays of Marseille’s Calanques national park. For those who wish to extend their stay: the region offers ample opportunity for various kinds of activities and outings.
All members of SEALG and guests are most welcome to attend this in-person event and participation will not be restricted to library or archive staff.

In preparation of the panel session on 15 June 2023 SEALG invites proposals for papers on three themes to choose from:

  • collections, archives and library work as well as recent developments in the field of
    South East Asian Studies
  • acquisition, storage and access of born digital material
  • contested heritage and providing access to heritage communities

A paper presentation should not exceed 30 minutes (including time for questions/discussion). Paper abstracts should be no more than 200 words and must include a title, author’s name and affiliation, as well as contact details. We encourage submissions from library and archive staff as well as from scholars and graduate students. The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2023. Publication of a paper will be possible in the SEALG Newsletter. For submission of your paper proposal / abstract, registration and further information please contact Christophe Caudron (christophe.caudronATuniv-amu.fr) or Marije Plomp (m.plompATlibrary.leidenuniv.nl).

Photo impressions from a former SEALG annual meeting in Marseille

SEALG Annual Meeting and Panel at the EuroSEAS Conference, Paris 2022

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The SEALG Annual Meeting 2022 took place in Paris in collaboration with the 12th EuroSEAS Conference, 28 June to 1 July 2022. On this occasion, our group organised a conference panel with the title Southeast Asia Libraries between Open Science, heritage collections and ethical standards of custodianship, which was held on 1 July as part of the EuroSEAS Conference. The Annual General Meeting took place on the same day, following the panel presentations, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), on the new Campus Condorcet, Paris-Aubervilliers.

The program on 1 July started with the SEALG panel which was chaired by Marije Plomp (Leiden University Libraries) and Jana Igunma (British Library). The theme of the panel was inspired by the fact that the foundations of European libraries holding Southeast Asian heritage collections are rooted mainly in the colonial enterprise. Both the collections and the accumulated knowledge about them bear the stamp of the values and beliefs of the European, nineteenth and early twentieth century collectors and scholars, whose assignments were inextricably bound up with the mission of the colonial state. Post-colonial voices from both academia and the broader society have exposed how some of these values have continued to influence the way European libraries manage, describe and present heritage material. As a result, some of these institutions have begun to critically investigate the make-up and provenance of their colonial collections, as well as the manner in which the collections are being managed. These endeavors have given rise foremost to policies directed at bridging the physical distance between heritage collections and the various stakeholders in Southeast Asia. Most libraries have begun taking measures to facilitate access to the collections and academic output through, for example, digitisation and digital collections, Open Access institutional repositories, research scholarships and facilities, and online catalogue tutorials, seminars and Open Access e-publications promoting the collections.

The panel explored these and other practices that can be taken up by libraries aimed at reducing inequalities related to access to heritage collections and knowledge production, next to other topics related to ethical custodianship. Topics for discussion included aspects of supporting Open Science and Open Access; opening up the collections for everyone, not just academia; providing free access to primary and secondary sources, independently from language/script, place of publication, peer-review, and format of publication; improving discoverability of material in non-European languages; critical re-evaluation of the language, scripts and standards used for cataloguing; heritage collection crowd sourcing projects; (re)discovery of collections; provenance research and acquisition transparency in the context of data protection and privacy legislation; optimization of the digitization process and projects; ethical issues arising from digitisation.

During two sessions, which were attended not only by librarians but also scholars and researchers, six papers were presented.

The first session was opened by Marije Plomp (Asian Library, Leiden University Libraries) with her presentation on “Bridging the gap: Managing colonial heritage collections, best practices and opportunities at the Asian Library”. With the transfer of the KIT and KITLV collections related to the former Dutch East Indies/Indonesia to Leiden University Libraries in 2013-14, the library’s Indonesia collection became the second largest in the world. A notable part consists of heritage material that was collected during the colonial period. In the last five years in particular, post-colonial voices from both academia and the broader society have called upon institutions holding colonial collections to critically assess their collections and the manner in which they manage them. Leiden University Libraries reacted with measures directed at bridging the physical gap between heritage collections and the various stakeholders in Indonesia. Marije discussed these measures in her presentation, as well as other actions directed more generally at accommodating Indonesian user groups and stakeholders in the library. Besides this, she looked into the best practices of other institutions that could perhaps be implemented at Leiden University Libraries.

The second presenter was Awang Azman Awang Pawi from the Academy of Malay Studies, University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur, with his paper “From Malay to Malaysiana: Collection between Access and Preservation”. Since the establishment of University of   Malaya (UML) of Kuala Lumpur’s campus in 1959, UML has been developing a collection of publications known as Malaysiana, which are technically defined as material about Malaysia published locally or overseas. The nucleus of the collection itself was inherited from a British colonial who initiated the field of Malay Studies at the UML in Singapore 1953. UML possesses a unique Malaysiana collection with research potential, however, in general the information about it is still superficial. Awang Azman Awang Pawi discussed the accessibility of the Malaysiana collection, as well as the preservation of the collection in the context of the Open Science concept. UML has started several digital initiatives to improve access to the collection for its users, alongside the library’s obligation to preserve this heritage collection. There is also a need for metadata and information enhancements of the materials in the collection to promote research and to encourage researchers from around the world to use this unique source.

The next speaker was Taufiq Hanafi, a researcher at the Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University, with his presentation “The Irony of Abundance: Open Science, Copious Resources, and yet Low Research Output”. According to recent research, with relatively low per-capita GDP, underdeveloped electronic text markets, and rapidly growing student population, Indonesia belongs to top users and largest downloaders of shadow libraries. It ranks second in the use of Library Genesis via the B mirror – after Russia – and becomes a major traffic source for data transactions. In addition, other channels for Open Science and data dissemination, such as the official mailing list group for Indonesia’s largest scholarship program LPDP and accompanying social media accounts, have a strong archival function and consistently address the lack of access to digital copies. In this regard, despite the seemingly-illegal nature of this mode of sharing, to date, Indonesia does not only have the ability to access knowledge but also to collect or even hoard. Nonetheless, Indonesia accounted for only 0.65% of academic publications in the ASEAN region and just over 0.2% of global publications, indicative of narrow engagement in science and a weak knowledge sector of the country. Taufiq Hanafi emphasized that his paper did not aim at negating the noble aim of libraries in the European setting at reducing inequalities related to access and opening up their collections for everyone, but rather questioned what can be done to address the issue of insularity in knowledge production.

Taufiq Hanafi presenting his paper during the first session of the SEALG panel

After a lively discussion of the first three presentations, the second session of this panel was opened by Jotika Khur-Yearn, SOAS Library, London, with his talk on “Digital Collections of Shan Manuscripts: Access, Discovery and Evaluation”. His paper discussed the digital collections of Shan manuscripts that have been made available for Open Access through digitisation projects with the support of generous funding from various organisations and institutions in the last few years. Through both Jotika Khur-Yearn’s participation in some of the digitisation projects and his own research interest in the Shan manuscript literature, these digital collections of Shan manuscripts have become treasure troves for exploration and discovery of rare literary material and information resources on various areas in the fields of humanities and social sciences as he illustrated with some examples in his talk. In addition to the digital collections of Shan manuscripts, he was also involved in a few projects to catalogue Shan manuscripts, and as a result he became aware of many more collections of Shan manuscripts that are still awaiting digitisation and preservation.

Jana Igunma from the British Library, London, followed next with her presentation on “The Thai tradition of manuscript copying and related curatorial challenges”. Until the introduction of printing technology in Thailand (then Siam) in the 1830s, the tradition and art of manuscript copying was one of the two main methods to preserve texts, the other being oral transmission by way of memorising texts. While some scribes and artists aimed to perfect their copying skills to produce luxurious manuscripts for the royal family, others explored ways to integrate their individual creativity and innovation with the process of copying, and yet others worked mainly for patrons who ordered custom-made manuscript copies for Buddhist ceremonies, rites of passage or personal use. For the curator or librarian working with Thai manuscripts certain aspects of the manuscript copying tradition pose challenges – especially in the context of establishing the provenance of manuscripts whose creators remain mostly anonymous – namely creation date/period of undated manuscripts, possible place of origin or art school, patron and purpose of manuscripts. Jana Igunma asked what the term “copy” means in the Thai cultural context, discussed problems that arise with the copying of colophons and art styles, and considered what constitutes the fine line between copy and forgery in the light of a revival of the tradition of manuscript copying in Thailand in the 21st century. 

The final talk in this panel was given by Wahyu Widodo, Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University and Fakultas Ilmu Budaya (FIB), Universitas  Brawijaya, Malang, on the topic “Whose Manuscripts are These? The Problems of Authorized Custodianships of the Exiled Clerics Manuscripts in the Nineteenth Century of Colonial Java”. In February 1886, accused of raising a rebellion against the Dutch colonial government, Mas Malangjoeda, a charismatic religious leader of the Banyumas-based Akmaliyyah Sufi order in Central Java, together with seventy-two of his loyal followers, was apprehended and sent to imprisonment in Buitenzorg, West Java.  Shortly afterwards, he was tried in colonial court under the colony’s criminal law and exiled to Buru Island. To add insult to injury, the manuscripts on Islamic mystical teachings that he had authored were seized and brought to Batavia. With interference from Snouck Hurgronje, these manuscripts are now kept in Leiden University Library, coded as “notes of Malangjoeda” with Cod. Or. 7577-7588. Wahyu Widodo’s presentation aimed to investigate the detailed processes of the manuscripts’ acquisition by asking: Whose sinful hands were used to expropriate these manuscripts from their rightful owner? This aim is further problematized by the fact that the European library has treated these colonial loots with high regard, which suggest legitimate custodianship. Should these manuscripts find their way home through restitution, would they be treated with equally high regard and used to contribute to the knowledge production in the postcolonial country?

Q&A and discussion following Wahyu Widodo’s presentation during the second session of the SEALG panel

After the lunch break, the Annual General Meeting of the SEALG was opened by the group’s secretary, Marije Plomp. Members from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US attended the meeting. Jana Igunma gave a short summary of the minutes of the last AGM 2019 in Leiden, which are also available on the SEALG website. Treasurer Margaret Nicholson informed the group in advance that, unfortunately, the financial report had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. There had been no expenses the previous two years.

The secretary received notifications from the group’s Chair, Doris Jedamski, and Treasurer, Margaret Nicholson, that they both wished to step down from their roles. This year, the election of the committee that had to be postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic finally took place. Christophe Caudron was elected as the new Chair of SEALG, and the attendants of the meeting congratulated him to his new role. Jotika Khur-Yearn agreed to be interim co-treasurer to assist Margaret Nicholson until a new Treasurer can be found.

Jana Igunma presented the usage statistics of the SEALG blog which saw very good results in the previous year 2021, with 10,562 views in total. However, views for the current year were below average due to the fact that only four blog posts had been published so far. Generally, newly published posts, especially those with a topic related to heritage collections, trigger higher viewing numbers also for previously published blog posts.

Usage statistics of the SEALG blog for the past decade by 30 June 2022

For example, the top five posts with the highest views during the past 12 months (as of 30 June 2022) were: An illuminated Malay Qur’an, A Treatise on Siamese Cats, Two early 19th-century Malay documents, Remembering the Black African Heroes of WWII in Burma, Buddhist manuscript textiles: Southeast Asia. The top ten countries from where the blog was accessed (all time) were the US, Thailand, the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Myanmar, Singapore, Germany, Philippines which shows that the blog is reaching audiences in Southeast Asian countries.

The next points of discussion were General Data Protection Regulations which affect how we publish information on the SEALG website and blog. The challenge is to follow the regulations, while at the same time we have to fulfil the requirements of transparency and accountability in terms of leadership and how SEALG is run. Another issue that was raised was the cost of the SEALG website (domain name and file storage) which have increased recently, so that the group has to look at possible alternatives.

Last but not least, the attendees gave updates from their libraries, including new and ongoing projects, exhibitions, staff changes, significant new acquisitions, funding, fellowships, news from partner organisations in the US, the use of digital platforms etc. Details of the updates are included in the minutes of the meeting which were distributed to the members of SEALG. Various suggestions for locations to hold the AGM in 2023 were received, including Hamburg, Marseille and Venice.

Apart from attending the SEALG panel and AGM, members had the opportunity to visit two exhibitions that took place during the EuroSEAS conference: Remembering 1965 and its Aftermath and Yadeya & the Coup: Taking Action in Myanmar’s Revolution. In addition, there was a rich cultural programme to accompany the conference, including film screenings, concerts, and book prize award ceremonies.

The SEALG committee, on behalf of the SEALG members, would like to express their gratitude to the organizing team of the EuroSEAS Conference 2022 for their dedicated work and the excellent support given to our group, and especially for accommodating the SEALG panel and AGM!

Performance of Khmu musicians from Northern Laos at the EuroSEAS Conference 2022

SEALG Annual Meeting and Panel at EuroSEAS 2022

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The annual meeting of the Southeast Asia Library Group is taking place on 1 July 2022 at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales and Campus Condorcet, Paris-Aubervilliers. It has been organised in cooperation with the 12th conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) which will be held from 28 June to 01 July 2022 at the same venue.

On this occasion, a conference panel has been organised on behalf of SEALG with the title “Southeast Asia Libraries between Open Science, heritage collections and ethical standards of custodianship“, to be held in two sessions on 1 July 2022, prior to the annual meeting.

Paper presentations in the panel include:

  • Bridging the gap: Managing colonial collections, best practices and opportunities at the Asian Library, Leiden University Libraries (Marije Plomp, Leiden University)
  • From Malay to Malaysiana: Collection between Access and Preservation (Awang Azman Awang Pawi, University of Malaya and Haslan Tamjehi, University of Malaya)
  • Researchers archives online and Open Science diktats (Louise Pichard-Bertaux, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)
  • The Irony of Abundance: Open Science, Copious Resources, and yet Low Research Output (Taufiq Hanafi, Leiden University)
  • Digital Collections of Shan Manuscripts: Access, Discovery and Evaluation (Jotika Khur-Yearn, School of Oriental and African Studies/University of London)
  • Searching for ‘the real’ Doctor William Bosch in the Dutch colonial collections (Rupalee Verma, Delhi University)
  • The Thai tradition of manuscript copying and related curatorial challenges (Jana Igunma, British Library)
  • Whose Manuscripts are These? (The Problems of Authorized Custodianships of the Exiled Clerics Manuscripts in the Nineteenth Century of Colonial Java) (Wahyu Widodo, Leiden University/Universitas Brawijaya)

Visitors are welcome to attend the panel. Registration is still possible through the EuroSEAS website which will give access to the entire programme of the conference, including all panels, roundtables, film screenings, book prize, special events etc . The annual meeting of SEALG is open to members only. For more information please get in touch via the SEALG website.

Report from the SEALG Annual Meeting 2019, Leiden

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The Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asia Library Group 2019 took place on 28-29 June 2019 in the Rouffaer Room and the Vossius Conference Room at Leiden University Library (UBL) in Leiden, the Netherlands, and was organised by Doris Jedamski and Marije Plomp. Participants from Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom attended the meeting this year.

Jana Igunma (British Library, London, UK)
Doris Jedamski (University Library, Leiden, Netherlands)
Rahadi Karni (formerly University Library, Leiden, Netherlands)
Marije Plomp (University Library, Leiden, Netherlands)
Holger Warnk (Library of Southeast Asian Studies, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)

Friday afternoon the participants gathered for the first part of the programme. Doris Jedamski welcomed the participants present, noticing that the vice chairperson had not yet arrived. Due to a mix-up, an anxious search for Holger Warnk was started in the library building. Finally, it turned out that he had not even reached Leiden yet but that he was stuck in a major traffic jam. With some delay but very relieved the group opened the first session with a presentation by Marije Plomp, entitled War, Love and Paintings; The Correspondence Between Emiria Sunassa and Willem Pijper (1940-1963). Emiria Sunassa was one of Indonesia’s first modern women painters. Emiria was ‘rediscovered’ only about a decade ago, whereas many of the male painters of her generation had long become well-established names in the history of Indonesian Modern Painting. Due to the lack of data on her personal life and work, many questions related to her career have remained unanswered. Last year, Leiden University came in possession of the private correspondence (or a part of it) between Emiria and G.F. Pijper, a Dutch islamologist. Notwithstanding the personal nature of these letters, they contain references to Emiria’s work and career that provide answers to some of those unanswered questions.

The second presentation of the afternoon was given by Doris Jedamski: Resident Hartman, His Wife, and a Mysterious Album Amicorum. The album, although in a saddening state, contains, among other things, a number of extraordinary drawings. They are dedicated to Mrs. Hartman but often show Javanese temples discovered and/or restored by her husband, the Resident of Magelang, C.L. Hartman. One very rare, superb drawing by F. Junghuhn springs out; it shows the Hartman Residency in 1840 – ten years after the famous Javanese Prince Diponegoro had been trapped there by the Dutch to be banished. Not only did Junghuhn write a personal dedication to Mrs Hartman on the sheet, he also added a short poem-like text. The mystery of this album, however, lays in the fact that a well-concealed, handwritten ex libris proves that the album had a prior owner before Resident Hartman presented it to his wife as a gift.

After the tea break Doris Jedamski had prepared a small pop-up exhibition of selected items and manuscripts from the UBL/KITLV collections. She also invited the participants to visit the exhibition on the ground floor presenting the three items from the UBL and KITLV collections that have been inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register and related items.

In the evening the participants had dinner at The Prentenkabinet in Leiden. In preparation for the discussion scheduled for the Business Meeting on Saturday, the participants shared their thoughts on SEALG and its future: expectations, challenges and potential.

Saturday morning started with the South East Asia Library Group Annual Business Meeting.

Annual Business Meeting

After a short welcome the apologies of Christophe Caudron, Carina Enestarre, Annabel Teh Gallop, Claudia Götze-Sam, Per Hansen, Jotika Khur-Yearn, Mia Nilsson, and Margaret Nicholson were announced. Also San San May and Sud Chonchirdsin sent their apologies.

The minutes from the Annual meeting 2018 in Leiden, as well as the financial report that had been compiled by our treasurer Margaret Nicholson were presented and unanimously accepted by the present members. Margaret Nicholson had expressed her wish to step down as treasurer. She is willing to stay on until a successor has been found. The committee will seek a successor. Holger Warnk inquired if the so-called “Brexit” could have any impact on SEALG and its (modest) bank account in the UK. Jana Igunma explained that the account was set up before the UK joined the EU, hence no problems are to be expected.

Reports from the members:

Jana Igunma explained how she has been busy for the last two years with the preparations for the major exhibition on Buddhism in the British Library. Digitisation of Southeast Asian material at the BL continues, with Annabel Teh Gallop taking the lead in this initiative with manuscripts from insular Southeast Asia. Also, two staff members will retire in autumn 2019.

Holger Warnk informed the participants that his department might lose one junior professor. This will result in a lower budget for the library. The library will move to a new building yet to be built and with less space for the library. The library received several donations, among them two exhibitions (one on the caricaturist Zunar, whose work is banned in Malaysia). There is ongoing cataloguing work on the Kratz and the Vietnamese collection.

Marije Plomp has tried to expand the library’s acquisition by joining Library of Congress’ Collective Acquisition Program Southeast Asia for a two-year trial. Dropping student numbers for Southeast Asian Studies are disturbing. If this trend continues the library’s budget for SEA will be cut significantly (the KITLV budget is not dependent on student numbers). Other issues that keeps the subject librarian and her colleagues at the library busy: digital collections and copyright, a platform to offer access to sources in PDF and the need to preserve audiovisual collections through digitization.

With the Leiden University Libraries’ focus still on Asia, there is extra budget and thus extra work for the curator and subject librarian for South and Southeast Asia. As the convener of two double/triple panels at ICAS 2019 and as a presenter, Doris Jedamski is currently focusing on ICAS. She furthermore curated the current library exhibition on the three UNESCO items kept at Leiden University Libraries: Panji – Diponegoro – La Galigo. Furthermore she announced the successful wrapping up of the digitization project concerning a selection of ca. 260 Panji manuscripts.

After the institutional news, the group discussed the SEALG blog. In order to stimulate the contribution of blog posts it is suggested to set up a schedule. Contributors can contact Jana Igunma. In addition Jana proposes to ask SEALG presenters to convert their presentation in a blog post.

The main topic for this year’s Business Meeting was how to proceed with SEALG while facing a steadily growing workload and a shrinking number of active members. What is SEALG? What do we want it to be and what is feasible? These questions formed the basis for a lively discussion. Although the number of members participating in the yearly conference and attending the Annual Meeting has never been large, the number has been decreasing the last few years. This, in combination with recent developments in the field of European libraries holding Southeast Asian collections made that the need was felt to evaluate the current state of affairs. SEALG is a member organization with half of its members from outside Europe. All members are library or archive staff working with South-East Asian collections. One of the organisation’s main objectives is to provide a network or its members, facilitate the communication and exchange between libraries and researchers, and also to advance the education of the public in South-East Asian studies. At present SEALG activities comprise an annual conference and business meeting, a yearly Newsletter, a website, and a blog. The Newsletter and blog posts inform librarians, scholars and others interested in South-East Asian studies. The yearly conference and annual business meeting offers members the chance to share knowledge and experiences, as well as disseminate news about projects, digital initiatives, conferences, and exhibitions. Whenever the meeting is held to coincide with a larger conference, such as EUROSEAS for instance, SEALG strives to organize a conference panel.

The interest in the yearly SEALG-meetings seem to be decreasing, the number of members that attend the meetings is diminishing. One major factor that might be responsible for this is the lack of funding/support from the employer. Moreover, more and more South-East Asian collections are managed by subject librarians for Asia General. The enormous workload all library staff is facing does not help either, and library staff without Special Collections feel less appealed (SEALG’s output is often related to Special Collections). As one possible reason the point was also raised that holding the meeting twice in a row at the same location could have caused this year’s meagre participation. All members present at the meeting confirmed that they deemed it important and worthwhile to meet fellow librarians at the SEALG conference and Annual meeting for the exchange of knowledge and experiences, even in a small group. The annual meetings were seen as informative, inspiring and a good way to strengthen the network one could always rely upon for help and advice.

It was felt that SEALG could and should take some kind of action to attract more members to the conference. One important step would be to clearly communicate to the members that the topics presented and discussed are not exclusively related to Special Collections, on the contrary, topics are most welcome that are informative to librarians who work with modern collections only. Examples are copyright, metadata standards, workflows, acquisition, faculty liaison, library services for the various user groups, provenance issues, digitization and everything that comes with it, and so on. Hence, the invitations could be more specific, mentioning in particular topics that could be of interest to libraries with modern collections only.

It was also proposed to consider adjusting the conference format, as the idea of having to present a paper might discourage members to participate. Several panels with round table discussions on topics of immediate interest to the participants could be an alternative format.

Another point that came up was the possibility of engaging scholars in the conference by, for example, opening up the conference to the public. But it was also pointed out that there are just a few local academics working on Southeast Asia at any location that can host the annual SEALG conference.

An attempt could be made to reach out to each individual member by sending a personalized letter. To gain insight into what topics SEALG members are interested in, a survey among SEALG member was proposed.

Following the business meeting, the SEALG Annual Meeting continued with two presentations.

In her presentation Curating Buddhism Jana Igunma gave an account of her work as one of the curators of a major exhibition on Buddhism in the British Library. To be able to offer an exhibition that appealed to the public, an external consultant was involved at the stage of writing the initial proposal. In addition, visitor focus groups were invited to give feedback. This research resulted in four key messages that are addressed in the exhibition, 1) Diversity of Buddhist Culture, 2) Global Outreach of Buddhism, 3) Mindfulness and Contemporary Buddhist Practice, and 4) The Role of Women in Buddhism. One of the challenges was to offer a balanced geographic representation of Buddhism.

Holger Warnk’s presentation Cermin Mata: A Missionary Journal from 19th Century Singapore told the story of an early missionary journal printed in Jawi (Arabic script for Malay) in Benjamin Keasberry’s Missionary Printing House in Singapore in 1858. Much of the text was perhaps written by Keasberry and translated into Malay by Abdullah Munshi or Husin bin Ismail. Keasberry had a school where he trained young boys to become, among other professions, writers, printers and bookbinders.

The SEALG programme concluded with an extended lunch at the Hortus Botanicus.

This year’s Annual meeting, like last year’s meeting, was kindly sponsored by the UB Leiden.


Interior view of the UB Leiden with entrance to the Asian Library.



SEALG Annual Meeting 2018

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This year’s  annual meeting of SEALG will take place in Leiden on Friday 6 July and Saturday 7 July in collaboration with the Asian Library Leiden. Early-comers who arrive on Thursday will have the opportunity to enjoy a “gezellige borrel” in the evening of Thursday 5 July.

As in previous years, we would like to have the presentation of selected papers on library and archive related issues on Friday, followed by the Annual General Meeting on Saturday. Therefore, SEALG invites proposals for papers on any theme relating to collections, archives and the library work as well as recent developments in the field of South East Asian Studies.

A paper presentation should not exceed 30 minutes (including time for questions/discussion). Paper abstracts should be no more than 200 words and must include a title, author’s name and affiliation, as well as contact details.

Please submit your paper proposal including an abstract to Doris Jedamski or to Holger Warnk not later than by 31 May 2018.

We encourage submissions from library and archive staff as well as from scholars and graduate students. Publication of a paper will be possible in the SEALG Newsletter which is online at www.sealg.org.

It would facilitate our planning enormously if you could let us know by email if you are planning to attend, and if you are planning to stay for the whole length of the Annual Meeting or only for one of the two days. A more detailed programme will be circulated soon.

Everyone will be most welcome and participation will not be restricted to library or archive staff.

Leiden has an interesting range of museums and other attractions to explore. An overview with links to various sites can be found on https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/more-destinations/leiden/architecture-in-leiden.htm
http://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions-/leyden-nl-zh-lei.htm. And of course, the new Asian Library itself is worth a visit, too.

The Southeast Asia Library Group is very much looking forward to meeting you in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Doris Jedamski (Chairperson of SEALG)


Interior of the Asian Library in Leiden. Photo by: Vysotsky/Wikipedia  cc Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International




Report from the SEALG Annual Meeting 2016, Copenhagen

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The Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asia Library Group 2016 took place on 24-25 June 2016 in Copenhagen (Denmark), hosted by the Library of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS).

Participants from Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Thailand and the United Kingdom attended this year’s meeting.

On Friday morning, 24 June, all conference participants and guests were welcomed by their host, Inga-Lill Blomkvist, NIAS Library & Information Centre, and Dr. Doris Jedamski, Chair of the Southeast Asia Library Group.

Holger Warnk opened the first panel with his paper on “Malay Islamic Publishing in Malaysia in Jawi Script”. The Arab-based Jawi script has been used for the Malay language for centuries. However, in religious publishing for pupils, students and scholars affiliated with traditional Islamic schools in Malaysia the speaker noted a drastic decline in recent years and a growing tendency toward using the Latin script instead in religious publications. Holger emphasized the urgency of collecting those diminishing publications in Jawi more systematically, as had been done by Sophia University (Tokyo).
Sud Chonchirdsin spoke on the “Vietnamese Manuscripts at the British Library”, which for obvious reasons, so he noted, were clearly outnumbered by the plentiful collections of hand-written books in Burmese or Thai kept in London but which, nonetheless, represent various historical and literary styles. Sud elaborated on the various variants in script and language of those Vietnamese books and scrolls and also analyzed the mythical animal symbolism present in the beautifully illustrated manuscripts influenced by Chinese traditions.

The second session commenced with Preedee Hongsaton and his presentation on “Thai Cremation Volumes: Precious Sources for Historical Research”. Preedee depicted the beginnings of this particular genre and further development since the l880s. Cremation volumes, limited editions of chiefly Buddhist texts, also often provide valuable biographical information on the deceased, and therefore they can form magnificent sources in the field of social history, the history of emotions, and social anthropology. Predee primarily related to his research of the rich collection of more than 4.000 titles in ca. 3.000 volumes kept in the National Library of Australia.
Jotika Khur-Yearn then presented his paper “Following the Footprints: H. J. Inman and his Remarkable Works on Shan Manuscripts at SOAS University of London”. Jotika gave an overview of the collection of Shan manuscripts at SOAS Library with a focus on two particular manuscripts that have been well researched by Captain J. H. Inham who taught Shan at SOAS between 1936 and 1948. Inham, in particular, pioneered the studies of Shan literature and manuscripts which to date have been heavily understudied.

After the lunch break [lovely Scandinavian sandwiches served at the conference venue] it was time for the last presentation. Doris Jedamski reflected on “What’s in an Archive?”. She presented fascinating examples of several recently acquired archives, both from private persons and organization and associations, still to be processed and added to the Leiden University Library collections. Among the examples were the Jager-Maasen family archive, the research archives of the scholars Hildred Geertz and Frans Hüsken, as well as the so-called Koopman-archive covering four generations of Dutch colonial power, but also the archive of the Batavia Voetbal Club (1903-1955) and its alumnis.

In the afternoon the conference participants visited the Royal Library, where the Research Librarian Bent Lerbæk Pedersen showed us a great number of treasures from the Southeast Asian manuscript collections. Among them were Batak tree-bark books (pustaha), Khmer books and Burmese manuscripts, Javanese palm leaf manuscripts (lontar) and letters to the Danish merchant-adventurer Mads Lange written by his Balinese wife on palm-leaf in Malay language. After Bent’s retirement next year, his position will most probably not be filled again. The day ended with a lovely conference dinner in the wonderfully Danish Toldbod Bodega.

On Saturday, 25 June, we were kindly allowed to hold our Annual SEALG Business Meeting at the conference venue at NIAS. Present were Inga-Lill Blomkvist, Christophe Caudron, Sud Chonshirdin, Claudia Götze-Sam, Per Hansen, Doris Jedamski, Jotika Khur-Yearn, Holger Warnk, and Gerald Jackson, who attended part of the meeting as a guest. Apologies had been received from Annabel Gallop, Jana Igunma, Mikihiro Moriyama, Margaret Nicholson, Louise Pichard-Bertaux, San San May, and Mia Nilsson.

Doris Jedamski welcomed all participants. After establishing the quorum, she presented the agenda, the minutes from the Annual Meeting 2015 in Paris, and the financial report that once again had been compiled by our treasurer Margaret Nicholson. The following item on the agenda was the election of the committee. Doris Jedamski as Chair, Holger Warnk as Vice-Chair, Margaret Nicholson as treasurer and Jotika Khur-Yearn as Secretary of SEALG were re-elected in these functions. Louise Pichard-Bertaux had informed the committee beforehand that she had decided to step down as member of the committee due to her new work situation. Christophe Caudron and Mia Nilsson (in absence) were welcomed as new members of the committee. All other committee members were confirmed. Jana Igunma, also confirmed as member of the committee, had beforehand agreed to continue her work on the SEALG Newsletter and SEALG blog with the support of other committee members.

Responding to a proposal from the well-known and experienced academic publisher NIAS Press, represented by Gerald Jackson, the long aspired and repeatedly discussed SEALG book project had been put back on the agenda. Gerald Jackson kindly joined the meeting to discuss a possible joint NIAS-SEALG project that should exceed a mere conference volume. Gerald presented his ideas to the group: the proposed book should be no erratic compilation of articles but a means to put Southeast Asian Studies and the collections back on the map. Such publication could even serve as some kind of handbook to be used for profiling several special Southeast Asian collections in relation to the world of teaching and research. For this purpose, it would be essential to bring together librarians/curators and scholars/researchers with experiences with particular Southeast Asian collections and to spark a dialogue between both parties. This dialogue could be documented in the book as well. A first ‘brainstorming’ could take the form of a panel at the EUROSEAS conference 2017 in Oxford. Questions to be raised might include: What is collecting, how does it change (Jedamski)? What are the sources or materials, how are these items used (Caudron)? How does in the age of information science the use of sources change and effect research (Caudron)? What kind of sources will survive – both physical and digital (Jackson)? Furthermore Gerald raised the question what audience the proposed book should address: should it be an academic book or a kind of source book? He mentioned the option to think of an additional series with volumes focusing on one particular region at a time. The reactions covered both enthusiasm and apprehension; in particular practical aspects were brought forward: Who will do the extra-load of work that it will take to put together such a book? How to cover the various regions equally? Is this kind of publication really necessary – aren’t there enough other platforms to promote our collections/activities.
It was agreed to set up a group that should look into the possibilities of organizing a EUROSEAS panel in preparation for the proposed publication. A tentative title will be needed soon but could not be formulated as yet. Gerald agreed to contact a couple of scholars who might be interested, so did Christophe Chaudron, Doris Jedamski and Holger Warnk. Doris and Holger announced already their willingness to be members of the steering group.

The meeting continued with the reports from the participants. Many members rendered somber news all related to budget cutbacks and extensive workload. However, there were also proud reports of successfully completed projects as well as new initiatives:

Inga-Lill Blomkvist reported on the long-term effects that the drastic changes of the recent years have brought about: The fusion of the NIAS collection with the University Library has more or less anonymized the NIAS collection. For scholars visiting NIAS, the change of location results in time-consuming travelling, the reduction of staff has made it more difficult to support and facilitate research activities. However, Inga-Lill has accepted the challenge and expressed her keen interest to expand the digital collections of NIAS.
Christophe Caudron provided an overview of the IrASIA and CREDO libraries in Maison Asie-Pacifique in Marseille. Serving two universities, his library faces various challenges. As in many other libraries space for books might become a problem soon.
Claudia Götze-Sam announced the good news that their application to the Specialized Application Services provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DfG) has been successful. Together with their partners from the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg this special budget will secure the acquisition of books on and from Southeast Asia for the coming years. Moreover, Claudia told us about the special training programmes that have been introduced for their library users.
Holger Warnk informed the group that in May 2016 an electronic loan system was finally introduced at the Library of Southeast Asian Studies at Frankfurt. This new loan system allows for inter-librarian loan. The integration of the OPAC of the former Asia House Library is still delayed due to severe technical problems. Furthermore, Holger evaluated last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, in particular the performance of its Special Guest of Honour, Indonesia.
Per Hansen mentioned dramatic budget cuts which might lead to the dismissal of numerous colleagues. He also gave a short account of the acquisition policies, which strikingly enough exclusively allows the Asian Studies collections to buy printed materials, unfortunately on Social Sciences only.
Jotika Khur-Yearn reported that the SOAS Jubilee in 2016 will see the opening of a new building for the school in September 2016 which then will also include several exhibitions. SOAS Library has carried out several cooperations with British Library, e.g. in digitalization projects. However, SOAS Library has also faced budget cuts, which will affect staff members, but not the acquisition of books.
Sud Chonchirdsin provided a summary of the latest developments at British Library. The retro-cataloguing of the old card catalogue of books in vernacular languages will be continued as well as the digitization of Southeast Asian manuscripts. The new Asia-Africa Blog of the library has attracted a great many visitors and apparently had quite some impact on the website. Finally, it is now allowed for users to use their own cameras in the reading rooms.
Doris Jedamski informed the group about the progress of the Asia Library at Leiden University which will formally opened in September 2017. This achievement will be celebrated with an “Asia Year” in 2017 in the city of Leiden and beyond. The large-scale preparations are ongoing and very time-consuming. Apart from a book publication, there are three exhibitions planned for 2017, all involving the South and Southeast Asian collections. Massive retro-cataloguing projects have started and parts of the collection are being digitized. At the same time the UB Leiden has chosen to introduce various new programmes, for instance ALMA, MARC 21, or Islandora. On top of that, the website is also entirely renewed.

The next item on the agenda was the SEALG Meeting 2017. It was agreed that an effort will be made to organize next year’s meeting once again as a panel of the EUROSEAS Conference, which will take place in Oxford, on 15-18 August 2017. The deadline for the submission of panel proposals has not been announced yet on the EUROSEAS website. A SEALG proposal will be put together as soon as possible. We hope again to attract participants and audience from both the library and the scholarly world.
Leiden was mentioned as an option for a joint SEALG-SAALG conference in 2018.
The discussion on possible SEALG fund raising has been postponed again due to lack of time, but shall be put on the agenda for the committee meeting in 2017.

Concluding the meeting, and on behalf of Jana Igunma, Doris briefly reported on the SEALG weblog and forwarded Jana’s appeal to all members to send in contributions.

Concluding this report, our thanks go to Inga-Lill Blomkvist and her team from NIAS for the perfect organization of a wonderful meeting!

Doris Jedamski, Holger Warnk

Presentation at the SEALG Annual Meeting at NIAS, Copenhagen

Presentation at the SEALG Annual Meeting at NIAS, Copenhagen

Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asia Library Group 2016

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Copenhagen, 24-25 June 2016

You are cordially invited to participate in the SEALG Annual Meeting 2016 to be held in collaboration with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen from June 24 to 25, 2016.

As in the years before, the SEALG Meeting combined with a one-day-conference will be a fabulous opportunity to meet with colleagues from all over Europe (and possibly beyond). We all encounter similar problems in this rapidly changing world of libraries and archives. SEALG hopes to stimulate the exchange of information among Southeast Asian librarians, to strengthen the network and to help facilitate our everyday work.

Participation in the SEALG Annual Meeting offers SEALG members also the opportunity to present their original work and/or to report about projects and initiatives from their institutions. Apart from librarians we also wish to encourage scholars to contribute to the conference with a presentation or a research paper focussing on library collections (for more information please see the attached Call for Papers). Hence, please forward this invitation to researchers who might be interested in attending the SEALG meeting/conference.

The SEALG Annual Meeting including the conference part will take place at:

NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies at University of Copenhagen, City Campus, Bld 18, 1, fl., Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Copenhagen

In preparation of the SEALG Annual Meeting 2016, we invite proposals for papers on any theme relating to collections, archives and the library work as well as recent developments in the field of South East Asian Studies.

A paper presentation should not exceed 30 minutes (including time for questions/discussion). Paper abstracts should be no more than 200 words and must include a title, author’s name and affiliation, as well as contact details.

Please submit your paper proposal including abstract to Inga-Lill M Blomkvist not later than by 31 May 2016. We encourage submissions from library and archive staff as well as from scholars and graduate students.

Publication of a paper will be possible in the SEALG Newsletter which is online at www.sealg.org.

For more information, please contact either Inga-Lill Blomkvist or Doris Jedamski .

Map of the venue of the SEALG annual meeting 2016 in Copenhagen

Map of the venue of the SEALG annual meeting 2016 in Copenhagen

Update: SEALG Annual Meeting 2015

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The SEALG Annual Meeting 2015 is being organized as a joint conference with the SAALG (South Asia Archive and Library Group) and will take place in Paris on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July 2015. This will be just before the EurASEAA15 Conference in Paris (6-10 July).

The SEALG/SAALG conference will give participants the chance to explore France’s collections and connections with South and Southeast Asia.

The tentative programme of the conference is as follows:

Friday, 3rd July:

– SEALG and SAALG meet at École française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), Maison de l’Asie, 22, avenue du President Wilson, 75116, Paris for a mixture of SEA and SA topic talks during the day

Theme: “The French Connection – with South and Southeast Asia”

Confirmed speakers:

– Rachel Guidoni: Major South Asia Collections in French Libraries

– Arundhati Virmani: South Asia Collections at the Marseille’s Chamber of Commerce

– Mrs J. Filliozat: The odyssey of the Pali manuscript EFEO collection

– Holger Warnk: The Nachlass of Maurice Durand in the Library of Southeast Asian Studies in Frankfurt

– Cécile Capot: The history of the EFEO library

– Isabelle Dion and Olivia Pelletier: Archives about Indochina in the national overseas archives (ANOM)

– Jérôme Petit: Missionaries, travellers and scholars: the building of an Indian manuscripts collection at the National Library of France

– François Lagirarde: The Lanna Manuscripts Project at the EFEO

On Friday evening there will be the chance to meet socially at the conference dinner (not included in the fee, venue to be confirmed).

Saturday, 4th July

– On Saturday at 10am there will be a visit to the Musée Guimet, 6 Place d’Iéna- 75116, Paris, including a guided tour of selected collections and a visit to the library.

– On Saturday afternoon the SEALG AGM and another session of talks will be held at Musée Guimet.

Confirmed speakers for the SEALG Panel:

– Annabel Teh Gallop: Digitisation of Malay and Indonesian manuscripts: an overview

– Claudia Götze-Sam: From Special Subject Collection to Scientific Information Service: What does it mean for the Southeast Asian collection of the Berlin State Library?

– Liubov Goriaeva: French Studies of Malay-Indonesian written tradition: a Glance from Russia

– Jotika Khur-Yearn: Where the French and the Shan Meet: The Shan Political and Social Movements in the Reserved Zones of Upper Mekong Regions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

– Doris Jedamski: Ephemera – the Forgotten Ones?

The fee for the whole conference is £30 and includes talks, lunch and refreshments on Friday plus the visit to Musee Guimet on Saturday morning and additional SEALG talks on Saturday afternoon.

This year to help with planning we will be asking participants to book a place and to pay the conference fee in advance. To book a place please send an email , specifying which sessions you plan to attend, and whether you would like to attend the Saturday evening dinner (excluded from the conference fee). The final day for booking will be 22nd June and payment will be required by Friday 26th June.

For further information and recommended accommodation please enquire by email .

If you wish to present a paper at the SEALG session on Saturday afternoon, please contact Doris Jedamski by email.

We are looking forward to meet you in Paris!

SEALG Annual Meeting 2015

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Dear members and friends of the Southeast Asia Library Group,

We are glad to inform you that the next SEALG Annual Meeting is being organized as a joint conference with the SAALG (South Asia Archive and Library Group) and will take place in Paris on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th July 2015. This will be just before the EurASEAA15 Conference in Paris (6-10 July).
The tentative format of the Annual Meeting is as follows:

Friday, 3rd July:
– SEALG and SAALG meet at EFEO for a mixture of SEA and SA topic talks during the day
Theme: “The French Connection – with South and Southeast Asia”
Venue and time : more details will be circulated nearer the time
– joint SAALG and SEALG dinner

Saturday, 4th July
– visit to the Musee Guimet in the morning
– SEALG panel of additional talks on topics other than the “French Connection” – a Call for Papers will be circulated to SEALG members soon

Please keep following this blog for updates!

On behalf of the SEALG committee and chair,

Doris Jedamski (d.a.jedamski@library.leidenuniv.nl)

Southeast Asian exhibits at Musee Guimet

Southeast Asian exhibits at Musee Guimet

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