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To Bangkok Conference programme

65th IFLA Council and General

Bangkok, Thailand,
August 20 - August 28, 1999

Code Number: 113-118-E
Division Number: VII
Professional Group: Editors of Library Journals
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 118
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No

The publishing of library and information science journals in Southeast Asia - an overview

Jaffe Yee Yeow-fei
Asian Library News
Bangkok, Thailand


This paper attempts to present an overview of the present stage of the publishing activities of library and information science journals in Southeast Asia. It also highlights some of the important titles in some major countries. Suggestions are made at the end to advocate more support and encourage more publishing activities, especially online.


The publishing of LIS journals and newsletters in Southeast Asia mainly involves the following four groups of organizations: Libraries, Library associations, Library schools and Commercial publishers.

Many titles come and go in a relatively short time, which shows that the publishing of LIS journals and newsletters in East Asia is anything but easy. Most if not all of those surviving through the years are mainly supported and sponsored by comparatively stable organizations. Failures are mainly due to poor funding, staffing and inadequate support in the gathering of editorial material.

Southeast Asia consists of ten countries. Each of these countries has its own unique situation, and the publishing of LIS journals and newsletters in some aspects cannot be generalized. My paper attempts to highlight the present stage of LIS publishing activities in the region and present some important titles published in a few major countries.

Singapore has attained the status of a developed country, but all 0the other nine countries are still considered to be developing countries. Among these countries, the levels of development are very uneven and the differences can be great. The big gap between them signifies a big difference between the publishing industry of these countries in terms of the number and quality of publications published annually, including LIS journals.

LIS journals published in Southeast Asia are mainly published by the libraries, library associations and the library schools of each country, with a very limited number of titles published by commercial publishers.

The following is an overview of LIS journal publications in the region. I would like to focus on a few main areas, including format, circulation/readership, quality and editorial focus.


Most LIS journals in Southeast Asia are still in print format, with some changing to print plus online. I foresee that more and more will go online in future, as it is undoubtedly the least expensive and perhaps a more effective way to publish the journals, especially for those published by a library association. Hong Kong Library Association has recently announced that it would no longer publish their Newsletter in print. Members who do not have access to the Internet can request the association to print out a copy for them.

Publishing online will eliminate a great deal of time-consuming procedures which are required by publishing in print. These include pagination, checking proofs at various stages, colour separation, and especially coordination with the printer. The editor can save a lot of time running around between his office and the printer. It will also bring down the total cost of producing an issue.

The cost factor of print versus online is very simple! Besides normal overheads such as salary, rental, postage and telephone etc., the cost of paper can constitute perhaps up to 75% of the total cost of a printed issue. The thicker the issue, the more paper required and the more costly it is to produce - not forgetting that it will also cost more postage to send each copy to the end users. In contrast, the major cost in publishing online lies with the fee for renting space in a server, and perhaps the service fee of an ISP. But in most cases, the libraries, library associations and library schools have access to the institute's or parent organization's server, which may not involve any extra cost. With the webmasters and editors being volunteers, there is almost no cost outlay at all - no overheads, no paper and printing cost, no postage to get the issues sent. This is really a "win win win" situation for all concerned.


Most LIS publications in Southeast Asia enjoy very little readership outside the countries where they are published. The main reasons are:

  1. Since it is very likely to be a journal published by the national library association, the circulation is normally restricted to its members.
  2. With the exception of Singapore and the Philippines, most local LIS journals are also published in their own national languages which not many people outside of the country are able to read - for example, the Thai Library Association Journal, which is virtually all published in Thai. (See sample issue of this and other titles).

There are very few regional or international titles except for Asia Library News, which covers Asia at large, and Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science. Almost all other locally published journals limit their circulation within their own countries, with perhaps a handful of copies sent overseas for the purpose of exchange.


The print quality of all journals and newsletters published in the region varies greatly from country to country. It seems to be directly related to the level of development of each country - the more advanced the country, the better the quality. In general, Singapore and Malaysia seem to produce better quality in terms of paper and printing. But in Thailand, a commercial publisher in which I was a partner also consistently produced a good quality journal, Asian Libraries, until 1995 when it ceased to be printed locally. I was its founding publisher and editor. And now a new journal called Asia Library News under my editorship, also published in Thailand for ALIVA (Asia Library and Information Virtual Association ), has maintained a high quality in printing and design.

In general, most library associations' journals in most Southeast Asian nations do not go for very high print quality mainly to cut cost. Also, the people in charge of production are often volunteers who are not professional enough to be able to demand or look for quality. Most of the publications are in black-and-white or two-colour and almost none are published in four-colour. This is understandable, as the cost for four-colour printing is exorbitant. For print journals, an editor of a small organization should also be an expert in printing, as often he is the person looking after the printing job. With online publishing, the role of the printer does not exist and most of the jobs rest with the webmaster.

The quality of layout and design is another factor that many regional journals tend to overlook. It may be even more important when a journal goes online, since a webpage with a bad design and layout will definitely discourage the very reader the journal is trying to attract. Therefore, perhaps online journals demand a better design and layout than print journals.


The contents of most library association journals tend to be heavy on news and local topics. Not many articles deal with the region as a whole as well as international issues. Perhaps the editors themselves are very conscious of their target readers, who are mainly members of the association, whereas the journals published by library schools focus strongly on library and information science, with mostly technical and highly academic articles.


As we are all here in Bangkok, I thought it would be appropriate for me to start with Thailand and go south in a circle covering the rest of the countries in the region.


Thailand has a vibrant library community consisting of a total of about 1,000 libraries. Twenty-three titles in the field of library and information science are currently published. The following are a few major publications.

TLA Bulletin (ISSN 0857-0086)

T.L.A. Bulletin is published quarterly by the Thai Library Association (founded in 1954) in Thai, with English abstracts for feature articles. It is mainly distributed free of charge to its 889 members. The editors and production team are all volunteers or staff members of the Thai Library Association. The editorial focus is mainly on news of the association plus a few feature articles. It is published in print only.

IFLA Newsletter- Regional Section for Asia and Oceania (ISSN 0858-2815)

This biannual newsletter is published in English by the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania, based in Bangkok. It is basically distributed by air free to about 800 members and non-members of IFLA. Editorial focus is mainly on news of IFLA headquarters and news around the Asia and Oceanic region. It does not carry feature articles.

Asia Library News (ISSN 1513-0452)

This is the official journal of ALIVA (Asia Library & Information Virtual Association ), which is currently under my editorship. It is distributed free of charge to all members of ALIVA. The publishing of the print journal and online version is being undertaken and underwritten by InfoMedia Asia Limited, which relies solely on sponsorship and advertising to support the publishing activities. The first issue was launched last September. Editorial focus is on all aspects of the library and information profession with an emphasis on the Asian region. Regular departments include library profile, interview, news, information resources and calendar of events.


Malaysia has a fairly well developed library and publishing community, perhaps due to its British legacy. Most libraries publish some sort of newsletters and bulletins circulated among their own personnel and users. There are four major publications that merit mention here. All of them are published in print format only, and except for one in English, they are all bilingual in English and Malay.

Malaysian Journal of Library and Information Science (ISSN 1394-6234)

This is a semiannual journal published in English by the Master of Library and Information Science Program of the University of Malaya. It was launched in 1996 and has an international readership. It publishes "original articles based on professional policies, practices, principles and progress in the field of library and information science".

TINTA (ISSN 0127-5100)

This is an annual publication published by the School of Library and Information Science, MARA Institute of Technology. It publishes articles on various aspects of library and information science.

Majalah Perpustakaan Malaysia (ISSN 0126-7809)

This is the official journal of the Library Association of Malaysia (PPM). It is an annual journal distributed free to its members. Editorial coverage includes significant news in the field of library and information science in Malaysia. It also publishes articles from working papers of conferences, seminars and workshops.

Sekitar Perpustakaan (ISSN 0127-1172)

This is a semiannual publication published by the National Library and is distributed free of charge. Articles are mainly by staff of the National Library and individuals from other institutions in the field of library and information science.


There are about 100 academic, special and public libraries in the island state of Singapore, which has a population of about 3 million. Singapore has two institutions offering LIS education. The Library Association of Singapore (LAS) is fairly active compared with other library associations in the region. The only two LIS titles are also published by the association, both in print format and online. The online versions of both titles are at .

Singapore Libraries (ISSN 0085-6118)

This is the official semiannual journal of the Library Association of Singapore (LAS). It is in English and was founded on August 30 1971. It deserves to be congratulated for an uninterrupted continuous publication for almost 28 years! It is mainly distributed free of charge to members of LAS, libraries in Singapore and the region, and is also available for sale at S$50.00 per year. Editorial focus is on library and information science, information services and information technology related to and applied in information services relevant to Singapore and Southeast Asia.

Singapore Libraries Bulletin (ISSN 0218-1479)

This is a quarterly newsletter type of publication which focuses mainly on news of libraries and librarianship, reports/ announcements of courses, meetings, contacts for networking and book reviews. It started in 1990. It is published in English and distributed free to members of LAS.


As a former US territory, the Philippines is predominantly an English-speaking country. Therefore the medium of instruction is English in all learning institutions. English is also the main language in publishing. In the Philippines, almost all LIS publications are in English. The major titles include the following:

ASTINFO (The Regional Network for the Exchange of Information and Experience in Science and Technology) Newsletter

This UNESCO-sponsored newsletter was originally published out of Bangkok. It is now being put out by the Science & Technology Information Institute, Department of Science & Technology (STII-DOST) in Manila. As the name implies, its editorial focus is on news and reports on information services geared more towards science and technology. It is a 16-page quarterly publication.

Journal of Philippine Librarianship

This journal is published by the Institute of Library Science, University of the Philippines. It deals with all aspects of library and information work in the Philippines.

Philippine Journal of Law Librarianship

This is an annual publication and contains articles, bibliographies, book reviews and documents concerning law and law-related information.

Besides these, the Philippine Association of Teachers of Library Science (PATLS) publishes a quarterly newsletter and an annual research bulletin, which contains articles about research in Philippines library education as well as seminar proceedings. And the various library associations also publish newsletters and bulletins mainly for distribution to members the associations.


Indonesia has about 8,600 academic, special and public libraries. There are 13 institutions offering library science degrees and diplomas. The country has an output of 52 LIS publications, of which 18 are published in Jakarta. The language used in all publication is exclusively Bahasa Indonesia, the national language. It seems that there is no online LIS publication at the moment.


Brunei has a library association of about 130 members. There is no library school. The association used to publish a newsletter and has ceased publication for more than 3 years. There are no LIS journals published in the country.


According to Mr Vu Van Son, director of the Library of National Center for Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation (NACESTID), which is the centre for ISDS in Vietnam, about 600 periodical titles are published in Vietnam. Of these, only five are in the field of LIS, three of them published in print format and the other two in print and online.

Journal of Information and Documentation (Tap San Thong Tin Va Tu Lieu)

This is published and funded by the National Center for Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation (NACESTID), under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, in Hanoi. It is a quarterly published since 1990 in Vietnamese with abstracts in English. It is also published online at . Its editorial focus is on news of library activities in Vietnam, plus general articles on library and information services and new information technology.

Library Bulletin (Tap San Thu Vien)

This is a quarterly published and funded by the National Library of Vietnam in Hanoi. It is published in Vietnamese with abstracts in English and only circulated in-house. Its editorial focus is to provide information on the public library system in Vietnam. It is believed that the first issue was published sometime in 1963.

Information and Library Activities in South Vietnam's Provinces (Thong Tin Va Thu Vien Phia Nam)

This title is published in Vietnamese semiannually by the General Science Library of Ho Chi Minh City. It is circulated in-house only and not for sale.

Electronic Newsletter Online (Ban Tin Dien Tu)

This monthly newsletter in print and online is funded and published by the Library and Information Center of the National University of Hanoi. Its first issue was launched in July 1997 and it now has a readership of 1,200. There is an Intranet online version. Editorial focus is on providing news on the LIC system, information on library and information science, economics, social science, education, science and technology, environmental science, etc.

Electronic Newsletter Online/ Library Club (Ban Tin Dien Tu)

This title was launched in January last year and is published only online in Vietnamese. The publisher is the Graduate Library, University of Natural Sciences, National University of Ho Chi Minh City. Its main editorial focus is to provide information on library development and reports of local libraries' activities. It is a monthly and can be accessed at



There are no LIS journals published in Laos. The reason is perhaps that there is no library association and library school yet. Also, all other publishing activities are directly controlled by the state-owned publishing organization called The State Books Publishing and Distribution House.

However, there are a few positive moves in the right direction and Laos is now planning to form a national library association. According to sources from the National Library, a draft constitution has been completed and submitted to the Ministry of Information & Culture. The proposed President is Mr Khamseng Soundara, who is attached to the State Books Publishing & Distribution House. The publishing background of the proposed president will certainly be very useful for the young start-up. A library school with the assistance of Mahasarakham University Thailand is also being set up at the National University of Laos. Hopefully we will witness the birth of a LIS journal in Laos in the near future after the country has formed the library association and established a library school.


I strongly encourage more translation of good articles appearing in vernacular languages into English so as to widen the readership.

I also advocate the publishing of all library association journals/newsletters to gradually go online to save cost and again to enjoy a bigger audience and to reach out to readers not just confined to the profession of library and information services. A broader readership will definitely create more interest and better understanding, which in the long term will benefit the profession at large.

I do not foresee any commercial publishers in the region willing to launch any LIS journals, due to the highly unprofitable nature of the subject unless more support in terms of advertising and sponsorship is forthcoming. Therefore, I also advocate more support from publishers, library vendors and other organizations to encourage more LIS publication in the region.

In addition, there should be more training offered to those interested in becoming involved in any aspect of publishing, with special emphasis on web publishing.

We should also form an online network of editors of LIS publications in Southeast Asia by starting a newsgroup on the Internet. Hopefully members of the group will be able to identify all the problems related to the publishing of LIS publications in the region and find solutions to overcome them in order to sustain the publishing activities of LIS journals and other publications in Southeast Asia.


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