The Journey to a Permanent Home

In 1968, at the tabling of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) Bill, then Education Minister Ong Pang Boon shared that a library would also be set up in ISEAS to support the Institute’s research activities.

In the beginning, the Library was housed in a single room in a two-storey bungalow at House No 8 on Cluny Road, part of the University of Singapore’s Bukit Timah campus.

Initial location of the Library in 1968, in a two-storey bungalow

With a collection initially limited to maritime Southeast Asia, the rapidly growing Library shifted in 1975 into a separate annex – previously the garage of House No 8.

The Library’s location in 1975: the garage of House No. 8

The Library’s collection grew in tandem with the Institute’s growing research activities, expanding to encompass not just maritime SEA, but also mainland SEA and the region as a whole.

Researchers using Library materials at House No. 8

By 1980, when the Institute outgrew its original campus, the Library’s collection was almost 127,000 strong. The Institute’s new home was in Civil Service Institute building (CSI, now the Civil Service College) at the fringes of Kent Ridge, with the Library located on the top floor of Annex B, giving it an expansive view of the sea off Pasir Panjang.

ISEAS’s location at the Civil Service Institute (CSI) building from 1980 to 1998, where the Library occupied the top floor of Annex B

In 1998, slightly more than a decade and a half later, ISEAS moved to its current home at 30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace, just a stone’s throw from the CSI. 

30 Heng Mui Keng Terrace

With a collection of over 700,000 items, ISEAS Library now occupies its own block of six floors that feature purpose-built, environmentally-controlled repositories designed for different storage needs.

View of the present ISEAS Library building

In keeping with the overall Balinese-influence architecture of the Institute, the mezzanine reading space at the top level of the Library features a high “umbrella roof”.  

The Library, at last, was finally home.

Visit our website to find out more about the collections and services at the ISEAS Library!

Best effort has been made to ensure the external links provided are valid as of collation. We welcome your suggestions to help us improve this service. Please take a moment to give us your feedback via our feedback form.

In making materials available online, the ISEAS Library always does its best to meet the requirements of copyright and other laws. If you have concerns about any material that ISEAS Library has placed online and want to suggest that it be taken down, please contact us at