The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore have teamed up to create what they hope will become a streamlined search tool for different types of Asean Community related information by connecting the resources of national libraries in the Asean region.
Piloted by the NLB, a statutory board of the Ministry of Communications and Information, with assistance from the Asean Committee on Cultural Information (COCI), the Asean Digital Library (ADL) will see digitised material from a wide range formats from partner countries made available to the public through an online database.
ADL material will include books, papers and manuscripts, maps, photographs, paintings, drawings, audio and video recordings, ephemera, and newspapers.
The brief video above outlines the basic use of the website, highlighting the cultural significance of what they call “Asean Heritage Content.” Not only does the ADL allow the international community to broaden their knowledge of Asean Community member nations, it also enables academics, and researchers looking for specific information on any of the other Asean Community members to search for available information.
Content searches can be filtered in a number of criteria, while searches can define categories including country, type of document, or language. For instance, if you are an English speaker searching for newspaper articles from Indonesia, you can select Indonesia; newspaper; English; and “apply filter.” If you do happen to apply these parameters, however, you won’t find anything… yet.
Part of ADL is building, and strengthening the wealth of knowledge that Asean national libraries hold. The next step to really making this tool useful: more content. With the assistance of Asean members, ADL will become a hub of information, easily accessible, but until more countries begin to digitise their libraries, you may find it frustrating to use.
Finally, ADL will be looking to its users to help enrich the experience of this digital library. The hope is that with more users, comes more content, corrections, and exposure. Of course the cooperation and efforts of Asean Community members will mean a great deal of knowledge will be available, and assuming ADL can create an active community around its library, it should become a readily accessible platform for Asean Community heritage, history, and anthropology.
Feature video National Library Board of Singapore