Southeast Asia Collection



The concept of Southeast Asia as a region began during the World War II. It is a strategic definition that is still used by the region's leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This strategic area was conceived as extending from eastern India and southwestern China to the northern shore of Australia, then along the eastern face of the Philippines. Included in the region are the nations of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines [see separate policy for the Philippines], Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. This strategic definition is still used by the region's leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN).

In 1962 the United States Congress established an education and research institution called the East-West Center. Its main goals are to promote understanding of nations in the Asia Pacific, and to strengthen the United States relations with nations in the region. The pioneer of the Southeast Asia Collection is Dr. G. Raymond Nunn, who was also the first director of the center. In order to support the education and research activities in the center he felt there was a need to collect materials from and about the Asia Pacific. He started the Southeast Asia collection by systematically sending a staff member on an extensive acquisitions trip to the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos with instructions to obtain anything and everything available. Examples of early purchases were the fifty-five volume The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803, edited by Emma Blair and James A. Robertson and issued between 1903-1909, and the first encyclopedia of Indonesia called Ensiklopedia Indonesia, printed between 1954-57.

To these early purchases of several hundred volumes was added material received from the Library of Congress PL480 program. Beginning in 1962, the Library of Congress bought for itself, and participating institutions, materials published in Indonesia. In 1965, the similar National Program of Acquisition and Cataloging (NPAC) replaced the PL480 program since it also included the countries of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. Today, the program (PL480 that later became NPAC) is known as Overseas Operations (OvOp), and it has recently included the nations of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The OvOp materials from Southeast Asia (except the ones from Myanmar, which are received from the New Delhi) are received from the LC regional office in Jakarta.

The bulk of the collection is from or about Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, with substantial holdings from or about Thailand, and Vietnam. The holdings of publications from and about Burma, Cambodia and Laos, have been developed exponentially due mainly to their inclusions in the LC Overseas program.

The Southeast Asia collection supports the interdisciplinary Asian Studies Program, and those disciplines and professional programs with an Asian focus: agriculture, anthropology, art, business, economics, geography, history, Indo-Pacific languages and literature, linguistics, music, philosophy, political science, public health, religion, sociology, and theater and dance. It also supports the School of Business Administration's Pacific and Asian Management Institute (PAMI), the scholars at the East-West Center, and researchers from the community at large, especially those from business and law. Unintentionally, the Southeast Asia collection also provides recreational reading for its university clients and the community through its acquisition of current imprints in the vernacular languages of the area.

The Asian Studies Program grants the BA and MA. The PhD degree with a focus on Asia can be earned in several humanities and social sciences departments. Currently there are 50 faculty members teaching 154 courses pertaining to Southeast Asia and representing 20 departments.


Current imprints from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore have been received since 1962 through the Library of Congress National Program of Acquisition and Cataloging (NPAC); in 1990 the NPAC - now called OvOp - plan was expanded to include Thailand, and in 2000 it was once again expanded to include Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Materials published outside the Southeast Asian countries are mostly acquired through the gathering plans with Blackwell as well from other vendors.


Language: No limitations. The collection is especially strong in the languages and dialects of the eleven countries that make up Southeast Asia. Publications in Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, and Tamil are also acquired.

Chronological: No limitations.

Geographical: The collection is limited to the eleven countries of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Date of Publication: No limitations, but the emphasis is on current publications.

Type/Format of Materials Collected: No limitation, but decisions are made based on the nature and content of publications.

Treatment: In general, textbooks and juvenile materials are excluded, but occasionally they are strictly selected for language learning.


As a participant in NPAC, the University of Hawaii at Manoa has assumed responsibility for housing local government publications from the east Indonesian provinces of Papua (formerly known as Irian Jaya), Nusa Tenggara Timur, Nusa Tenggara Barat, and Maluku.


Southeast Asia is a large area; it includes eleven different countries with eleven different national languages with numerous dialects and sub-cultures. In addition, the eleven nations that presently make up Southeast Asia have been occupied by the nations and cultures of China, Japan, France, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands and the United States. All have left their imprint on the indigenous language, culture, and history of the region. Retrospective material on the area was issued in all of those western languages, and current research on the area is written in French, Dutch, German and English. Access to Southeast Asian materials beyond the most minimal level of information, requires knowledge of a variety of western and Southeast Asian languages and cultures.

Date: 11/14/2001 Revised by: Rohayati Paseng Barnard


Last updated: Feburary 25, 2005
Copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

Created by Lisa Nguyen
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Kuan-Hung Chen