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Library (Head: Mr Pitt Kuan Wah)



Wang Gungwu Collection and Gallery in ISEAS Library

A permanent gallery titled “Wang Gungwu: Historian, Humanist and Public Intellectual” at ISEAS Library was launched officially by President S.R. Nathan on 23 August 2011. It was attended by about 200 guests. The gallery was designed by Oxygen Studio Designs while the Library prepared the contents for the exhibition and selected about 48 photographs from Professor Wang’s personal collection of 1,000 photographs.

Tommy Koh Private Archive

Professor Tommy Koh, Chairman of the Institute of Policy Studies and Ambassador-At-Large, deposited his private papers with ISEAS Library in December 2011. The Letter of Agreement between Professor Tommy Koh and ISEAS Library was signed a month earlier. The archive is estimated to consist of 81,000 items.

Merle Ricklefs Collection

Professor Merle Calvin Ricklefs, who is a scholar of the history and current affairs of Indonesia, deposited twelve boxes of theses, newspapers, etc., on Islam and Indonesia with the Library in September 2011.

Tan Chin Tuan Private Archive

The family of Tan Chin Tuan provided ISEAS Library with a digital copy of the list of his personal papers to select for deposition at the Library.


Library acquisition of new titles was 3,840, a decrease of 33 per cent over the previous year. The serials collection rose by 1 per cent from 1,766 to 1,782 titles, and the journal collection by 2 per cent from 997 to 1,018 titles inclusive of e-journals. The cataloguing output decreased by 26 per cent over the previous year’s from 6,848 to 5,100 titles.

SEALion (Southeast Asia Library Online)

The SEALion database, the public online catalogue that is the backbone of the Library’s online systems now has 217,730 records. The total search hit rate of SEALion on the Web was 26,686.

ISEAS Library Website

ISEAS Library’s website content was regularly updated to keep up with current information. The hit rate was 2,957.

The Collection

The Library’s main collection at the end of the report year stood at 594,882 items, up from 588,730 the previous year, an increase of 1 per cent. Processed print materials and microform totalled 211,249 titles, an increase of 2.5 per cent over that of the previous year. This excluded the Southeast Asian Cultural Collection (SEACC) of audio-visual materials of 85,958 items and the accumulated backlog of 27,829 titles of print materials and microform.

Country and Language Coverage

Of the total Library collection, 147,127 were titles on Southeast Asian countries and the region asan entity, an increase of 1.3 per cent over that of the previous year. This constituted 69.6 per cent of the Library’s total processed materials. Vernacular languages of the region made up 51 per cent of the total library collection, inclusive of unprocessed titles (not catalogued, labelled, barcoded or security tagged.


The Library had a total of 36 newspaper titles, 33 of which were subscriptions and three were received as gifts. One newspaper, Mirror, from Myanmar was cancelled due to a steep rise in subscription cost.

Serials in Microform

Regular efforts were made to check the quality of the microfilm collection. An ongoing exercise was undertaken to replace print and damaged microform newspapers with microfilm copies. The Library is still sourcing them for replacement.

Southeast Asian Cultural Collection (SEACC)

The SEACC Collection, a multimedia documentation of the cultural aspects (habitat, culture, folklore, customs, etc.) of the Southeast Asian region, comprised mainly colour slides, black and white negatives and photographs, with the unique and valuable Dorothy Pelzer Collection forming the core. SEACC totalled 85,958 items, with the addition of 19 new items.