SEALG Annual Meeting 2006

by Jana Igunma & Margaret Nicholson

The SEALG Annual Meeting 2006 took place in Berlin, Germany, September 29th - 30th, 2006. It was organised in co-operation with the Oriental Department of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin . Thanks to Dr. Hartmut-Ortwin Feistel, Head of the Oriental Department.

Participants:
Hartmut-Ortwin Feistel, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Jana Igunma, The British Library, London, UK
Nicholas Martland, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
Geoffrey Roper, Institute for the Study of the Muslim Civilisations, London, UK
Margaret Nicholson, Hull (formerly University of Hull), UK
Rahadi Karni, Leiden (formerly KITLV), Netherlands
Sergei Kukushkin, Russian State Library, Moscow, Russia
Per Hansen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark
Erik R. Skaaning, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Copenhagen, Denmark

Apologized: Christina Grune, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Claudia Goetze-Sam, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Annabel T. Gallop, The British Library, London, UK
San San May, The British Library, London, UK
Sud Chonchirdsin, The British Library, London, UK
Xiyi Huang, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
Stefan Seeger, Institute of the Study of the Muslim Civilisations, London, UK
Lieu Cao Thi, Musee Guimet, Paris, France
Annie Troedsson, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Kathryn Wellen, Library of Congress, Washington, USA

Issues discussed during the Annual Meeting:
1) Each participant gave a short report on news from his/her institution and the main focus of his/her work.
2) Apologies
3) Margaret Nicholson as Treasurer of the SEALG presented the Financial report for the year 2005. There had been no expenditure during the year and a small gain of £31.25.
4) Presentation of papers
5) Margaret Nicholson volunteered to help with the work associated with the position of Secretary of SEALG (vacant due to the resignation of Annie Troedsson) but was reluctant to accept the position without the backing of an employer.
6) The next Annual Meeting of SEALG will take place in Naples, in co-operation with the 2007 EUROSEAS Conference .

Presentation of Papers:
Jana Igunma reported about the “Co-operation between SEALG and CORMOSEA” during the last two years. Jana is in regular contact with Kathryn Wellen to exchange news and information on recent developments and projects of the two organisations. The Homepage of CORMOSEA is a useful resource for SEA librarians. Jana joined the CORMOSEA discussion list, which allows one to participate in a lively exchange of information on SEA librarianship. The CORMOSEA Bulletin, which is accessible on the CORMOSEA Homepage, is also an informative resource for SEA librarians. The SEALG newslist benefits much from the co-operation with CORMOSEA.

Rahadi Karni spoke on the possibilities to continue compiling and to update a “List of SEA Libraries”, which is available on the SEALG Homepage. The aim is to list SEA-related libraries in Europe, including east European countries, and to give detailed information about holdings and services of these libraries. Rahadi has worked out a questionnaire to be sent to libraries. He suggested that it would be more effective if some SEALG members became country or region co-ordinators to approach librarians in their mother tongue, as it was done exemplarily by Lieu Cao Thi for France.

Hartmut-Ortwin Feistel informed about the “Union Catalogue of Oriental Manuscripts in Germany”, which is an outstanding project of the Goettingen Academy of Sciences . The project started in 1990 and will continue to 2015. The project’s aim is to catalogue manuscripts in Oriental scripts and languages, which have not yet been catalogued, and to make them accessible through printed catalogues (Series: “Verzeichnis der Orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland”).

Sergei Kukushkin gave a talk about “Online Cataloguing of SEAn materials at the Russian State Library” in Aleph, which has started recently for Indonesian and Malay languages. A next step would be to start online cataloguing in Vietnamese and Thai languages, using both Russian transliteration and Romanization systems. Sergei is much interested to exchange experiences with different transliteration systems for Thai in particular.

Nicholas Martland presented a paper about “The state of (Southeast Asian) area studies in UK higher education”. Closures of SEA sections at many universities, not only in the UK, are an alarming sign of the decline of area studies, and this trend is believed (by administrators) to affect SEA libraries, too. However, as practice shows, the need for SEA libraries has not declined at all, due to the fact that SEA related researches in other fields – like development studies, geography, agriculture, politics, sociology, health sciences etc. – have increased. This affects SEA libraries only in that researchers are no longer specialised on one area or country, and therefore require more professional support from specialized librarians to get access to area or country related sources and sources in original languages.

Geoffrey Roper gave a talk about the project “Muslim Civilisations Abstracts” of the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations . The project aims at providing systematic bibliographic indexes and abstracts of works concerning Muslim civilisations. Muslim Civilisation Abstracts will be made available as a free, open-access online database and on CD-ROM. A pilot project has been carried out with contributors from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, UK, and USA. More contributors, who would survey and write or translate brief abstracts, would be very welcome.

Additional Talk:
Per Hansen and Erik R. Skaaning informed about NIAS LINC , which is designed to be one of the most important sources of information on Asia in the Nordic countries. A recent project is the Access to Asia Knowledge Portal. Through this portal, relevant information from a variety of different sources on Asia are made available online.

Excursion and Library Visit:
The participants of the Annual Meeting used the opportunity to visit the Museum of Indian Art in Berlin-Dahlem. The museum houses one of the most important collections worldwide of art from the Indo-Asian cultural area, from the 4th millenium BC to the present. This extensive geographic region includes India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Autonomous Regions Tibet and Xinjiang of the People’s Republic of China, the Southeast Asian mainland countries of Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, as well as Malaysia and the Indonesian Islands. Of special interest for us as librarians were the manuscripts from SEA and from the “Turfan Collection”.

A guided tour through the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin building in Potsdamer Strasse, was a highlight of this year’s meeting. Hartmut-Ortwin Feistel gave a detailed introduction into the history of the library and of the German national libraries in general, but also revealed the practical problems experienced with the building. As almost everywhere, storage is a problem, as is intra-library transport technology. However, the architecture of the building and the brightness of the reading rooms are stunning to every new visitor.