The inaugural ASEAN Summer School for Emerging Library Leaders concluded its successful five-day programme from July 10 to July 14, 2023. Developed in partnership with SMU Academy, the programme sought to equip librarians from the ASEAN region with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead the digital transformation of their respective libraries. It further served as a platform for fostering cross-library collaborations and connections among librarians throughout ASEAN, as part of SMU Libraries' ongoing commitment to expanding its presence in Asia.

Showcasing the strong collaboration between local and regional partners such as the Singapore Alliance of University Libraries (SAUL), Council of Chief Librarians (CCL) and  Libraries of ASEAN University Network (AUNILO) members, the programme brought together nineteen promising library professionals from across the ASEAN region and beyond, including Brunei, China, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore. Five participants from the Southeast Asia region were generously sponsored by Taylor and Francis while one librarian from Kazakhstan was sponsored by Sage. The organisers are deeply grateful for the generosity of these international academic publishers.

Throughout the programme, speakers shared valuable insights and expertise with the participants.

Professor Venky Shankararaman, the Vice Provost (Education) and Professor of Information Systems at Singapore Management University, delivered a keynote centred around the theme of digital transformation in universities and showcased the transformative journey of SMU. He challenged participants to envision the evolving role of university libraries in the era of generative AI (Artificial Intelligence) and emerging digital technologies. Following that, Ms Shameem Nilofar, Singapore Management University Librarian, emphasised the importance of strategic planning for internal and external alignment within academic libraries.



Apart from the workshops, participants heard from five library leaders who shared their own experiences and perspectives on the opportunities, threats and skillsets needed for the digital transformation of libraries in a hybrid panel discussion. Their insights inspired and motivated the participants to explore innovative approaches to adapting to the digital landscape.

As part of the programme, the participants were assigned mentors who will provide guidance and support for a period ranging from three months to a year. These mentors will play a crucial role in guiding the librarians as they embark on their digital transformation initiatives and further enhance their professional growth.

The participants found the programmes to be well-curated and relevant. One participant commented that it was a “Well-prepared programme in terms of facilitators, instructors, content, and learning materials…” Likewise, Ms Khoo Tze Jien, Senior Manager from Monash Malaysia, said “… the topics were really interesting and relevant to current issues being faced in my library.”

The participants also expressed their deep appreciation for the meaningful connections they had forged with fellow librarians from different countries. Amirul Shahezal Haji Abd Rahman, a Collection Development Librarian from Universiti Brunei Darussalam, said “… the organisers have structured the programme very well and it involved a lot of discussions. It allowed us to not only network with other librarians, but also made us feel like part of a family, a group we can tap on to ask anything related to library.”

The ASEAN Summer School for Emerging Library Leaders has undeniably served as a vital platform for fostering collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and innovation within the library community. With the skills and insights gained during this programme, the participating librarians are poised to drive digital transformation in their libraries. Their efforts will undoubtedly make a meaningful impact in the digital transformation journeys of their respective institutions.

The programme will run again in 2024.