The Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) was established in Singapore in 1970. It was initiated by the library associations of Malaysia and Singapore, who saw a need to unite the librarians from the ASEAN nations under a common banner. A Constitution was drawn up for CONSAL that subsequently led to its formation. The five founding member countries were Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Throughout the years, CONSAL has welcomed Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam as new members. The primary decision-making body of CONSAL is the Executive Board.

The objectives of CONSAL are:

  1. To establish and strengthen relations among librarians, libraries, library schools, library associations and related organizations in the region;
  2. To promote cooperation in the fields of librarianship, library and information sciences, documentation, information, and related activities in the region; and
  3. To cooperate with other regional and international organizations and institutions in the fields of librarianship, library and information sciences, documentation, information, and related activities.

From the start, it was agreed that CONSAL will hold a conference and meeting every three years, with each member country taking turns as the host. To date, all member countries except Laos have hosted CONSAL several times. The most recent edition (CONSAL, XVIII) was held online by due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Malaysia will host CONSAL XIX in 2025, marking the first in-person meeting after a seven-year gap. The last face-to-face meeting was, CONSAL XVII which was hosted by Myanmar in 2018.

To prepare for the event, the National Library of Malaysia, and Persatuan Pustakawan Malaysia (Librarians Associations of Malaysia) have formed the CONSAL XIX Main Committee and several working committees. These committees have met and will continue meeting regularly to ensure the successful organisation of the event. The first Executive Board Meeting for CONSAL took place virtually on 29 November 2023, where the organising committee provided updates on their progress. It was agreed that CONSAL XIX will be held from 17 to 19 June 2025 in Kuala Lumpur. The second Executive Board Meeting is scheduled for 16 June 2024.

The first CONSAL XIX Main Committee meeting was held at the
National Library of Malaysia on 16 November 2023
Site visits by members of one of several working groups
Various online meetings have been conducted in preparation for CONSAL XIX

The theme for CONSAL XIX is Inclusive Knowledge: Bridging Divides, Empowering All with the tagline Leveraging Inclusivity, Empowering Humanity. The theme focuses on inclusivity through the practice of providing equal access and resources to all. It promotes the belief that knowledge and empowerment should be accessible to everyone. The emphasis is on bridging the various divides that exists, be it socioeconomic, cultural, technological, or any other forms of divide seen or unseen. Most importantly, there is a need to ensure that all individuals and communities have equal opportunities to learn, grow, and collaborate. Libraries and librarians play a crucial role in ensuring that every individual within the community they serve have equal opportunities and that no one is left behind.

Meeting to finalise the venue for CONSAL 2025

Stay tuned for more information as we prepare to welcome everyone to CONSAL XIX. Follow our Facebook page, CONSAL XIX 2025, for updates.

Contributed by Dr Nor Edzan Che Nasir, Member of CONSAL XIX Main Committee