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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 88, April 2017

Special topic: Collaboration with other institutions

ASEAN Digital Library

By Shereen Tay, Associate Librarian, National Library Board, Singapore

National libraries from the various countries in ASEAN hold a great wealth of library resources that span the spectrum of formats books, papers and manuscripts, maps, photographs, paintings and drawings, audio and video recordings, ephemera, and newspapers. Over the years, the ASEAN libraries have been digitising their national treasures. A collaborative effort by the ASEAN national libraries has now made it possible for these digital objects to be seamlessly searched and accessed by a global audience on a single platform known as the ASEAN Digital Library (ADL).

Launch of Pilot Website

The ADL is a regional project that aggregates and connects the digitised resources of national libraries in the ASEAN region. The project is led by the National Library Board, Singapore (NLB), with support from the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI), and in partnership with the ASEAN national libraries.

The ADL pilot website was launched during the Regional Country Representatives Meeting held from 17-19 May 2016 in Singapore. The event was hosted by the NLB and attended by representatives from the other nine ASEAN national libraries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

< ADL website >

A total of 77,376 metadata records were made available at the time of the launch. The 3-day meeting also saw each national library share their digital library plans. A tour of the National Library as well as various other institutional libraries in Singapore rounded up the programme. From the feedback received, attendees found the regional meeting useful and relevant, especially the presentations and sharing by ASEAN national libraries.

< Regional Country Representatives Meeting >

< ASEAN National Libraries representatives with staff from NLB >

Searching the ADL

Users can search for records via keyword search and browse the metadata records via the country of origin. The search results can be further filtered by format and language. Clicking on the link provided will bring users to the original source where the digitised content resides on the respective national library's webpage, thus at the same time helping to publicise the national libraries of ASEAN.

The ADL catalogue currently contains rare heritage materials such as Malaysia's manuscripts from the late 15th century to early 20th century, literary works written on palm leaves from Laos, drawings of early Indonesia in the 18th century, as well as books and articles about Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles and the early period of British rule in Southeast Asia from Singapore.

< Manuscripts from Malaysia >

< Drawings of early Indonesia >

Moving Forward

The NLB is working with the ASEAN national library partners to upload an additional 30,000 metadata records which have been pledged for 2017. The ADL website will be officially launched in 2017 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.

ASEAN Digital Library website:
ASEAN Digital Library video:

Copyright (C) 2017 National Library Board, Singapore