Role of Thai Library Association in the Development
of Thai libraries, librarianship and library cooperation


Dr.Prachark Wattananusit
Vice President III
Thai Library Association (TLA)
under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn
Bangkok Thailand

submitted to
The 7th EUROSEAS Conference
Panel 95 (Digging up Hidden Sources- The Changing Roles of
Libraries and Archives in Southeast Asian Studies)
2-5 July 2013
School of Social and Political Sciences
Technical University of Lisboa (ISCSP/UTL)
Lisbon Portugal

Role of Thai Library Association in the Development
of Thai libraries, librarianship and library cooperation

Dr.Prachark Wattananusit *

Established on October 11,1954, the only one library association in Thailand, Thai Library Association(TLA) under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn has been playing leading roles in the development of libraries and librarianship in Thailand. With the Code of Ethics for Thai Librarians, some main activities of the Association ,Executive Boards, Sections and affiliated groups are: the issuing of the quarterly TLA bulletin since the issue of April- June 1957 and TLA Research Journal (Thai Library Association) bi-monthly since the issue of January-June 2008 to date, the production of handbooks, texts on library sciences, training librarians serving types of libraries, seminars and workshops, library cooperation, library standards, consultation and supervision of the library establishment and organization, yearly awards giving to best libraries, librarians and library patrons, annual library conference, book development. Some of Association program and projects are: library week, the support and development of existed libraries, the recovery of flood damaged libraries, library and librarian profession knowledge management etc. Cooperation with government and private institutions and organizations are also noticeable. Technical visits to libraries within Thailand and in countries in Asia, Australia and Europe have been organized. TLA plays active roles in international cooperation since the inception. TLA cooperates with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions-IFLA and the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians-CONSAL for years. TLA and the National Library of Thailand hosted IFLA’99 in 1999, 4th CONSAL in 1978, 9th CONSAL in 1993. In 2015 TLA and the National Library of Thailand will host 16th CONSAL. TLA is also seeking the mutual cooperation in library and information areas with institutions and organizations in foreign countries.
*Vice President III Thai Library Association (TLA) under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn 1346 Akarnsongkrow 5 Road, Klongchan Bankapi, Bangkok 10240, Thailand Tel 662 7349022 Fax 662 7349021 E-mail:


Role of Thai Library Association in the Development
of Thai libraries, librarianship and library cooperation

Dr.Prachark Wattananusit

Thai Library Association Organization Thai Library Association (TLA), the only one library association in Thailand, was formed about 60 years ago by a group of Thai Librarians who attended library science courses at Chulalongkorn University under the Fulbright program starting in 1950-1952 let by Ms.( Professor) Sutthilak Amphanwong . Although some names changed, this group of librarians let by Mrs.(Professor Khunying) Maenmas Chavalit had constantly guided the development of library science education, libraries and related activities in Thailand .On October 11, 1954 Thai Library Association was registered as the Association. Day by day, Thai people learned on the existence of the Association, library science education and library service in the Country. At present this Thai Library Association is governed through an Executive Committee of about 25 members leading by Professor Khunying Maenmas Chavalit who has been elected from among the regular and associate memberships and to hold the office two years. Monthly meeting are held to form the working plans and activities. TLA sections are: Professional Development and training, Library Standard, T.L.A Bulletin, International Relations, Customer Relations, Fund Raising ,Membership, Research and Development and Hospitality. Apart from these are group of librarians namely: the National Library Group, Special Library Group, School Library Group, Public Library Group , Library and Information Instructor Group, International Librarian and Information Specialist Group and Vocational Education Library Group.

Royal Patronage On 25th November 1971 His Majesty King Bhumibol gave the gracious permission for the audience of members of Thai Library Association at Chitralada Palace. He gave the inspiration on Thai language, documents, books, libraries and librarians to TLA members. Her Majesty Queen Sirikit is also interested in libraries and library activities. As part of her keen interested in education, science, technology, social sciences, humanities, culture and welfare of Thai people, on 2nd September 1976 H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn had accepted the Thai Library Association under her patronage.

Code of Ethics The Code of Ethics for Thai librarians in Thai was proclaimed on 30th April 1978.The English translation was made by Dr. Navanit Intrarama. The proclamation ceremony was presided over by Mr. Kasem Suwannakul, the former Ministry of University Affairs at the auditorium of the Department of Public Relations, Prime Minister’s Office. The Preamble of this Code of Ethics mentioned that “ The library is a highly respected and important institution that imparts knowledge to society. In order to further develop the library system, to promote firm ethical standards, and to evoke the recognition of society, the Thai Library Association under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Siridhorn herewith sets fort the following Code of Ethics to be strictly observed by library professionals. This Preamble follows by Section 1 Ethic Towards the Users, Section 2 Ethic Towards Professions, Section 3 Ethic Towards the Colleagues, Section 4 Ethics Towards Organization and Section 5 Ethics Towards the Society.

Professional development

Publications In 1956 TLA started to publish book “School libraries” written by Maenmas Chavalit. After that there were many books published. When firstly the Royal Thai Government named 1959 the Year for Children, children book had firstly published in Thailand by TLA in that year too. Some following publications were the translation of educational materials. In 1985 Chutima Sacchanand had analyzed that TLA published 4 categories of publications namely: 35 books on library science and related subjects, 26 children books and 3 serial titles. Later on, additional 56 titles on library science and related subjects were published. Types of publication were dictionary, standards and handbooks, bibliography and annotation, library materials and library technique, library education, services and running of libraries, the operation of printed materials and non- printed materials collection, the use of libraries, the preservation and the conservation of library materials , Thai library science, information service system, encyclopedia of library science , Thai subject headings, analysis of library and information science thesis as well as annotation of children books. Apart from these there were documents issued on related topics of annual TLA conferences.

Journal At the early stage of library education, library development in Thailand, there were few people understand on the important of libraries in society.TLA, therefore, issued quarterly TLA Bulletin for professional and public consultation since the issue of April-June 1957. Today this Journal is still issued. It has been recognized as one the prestige journal on library, education and culture in Thailand. During 1962-1972 TLA had also issued “ Bannapipob” Journal too. Anyhow it was already ceased by. In 2008 the TLA President ( Prof.Dr.Chutima Sacchanand ) and Executive Board members of TLA considered that there were still no high stage for librarians , information persons and students to publish thesis and dissertation on library and information science for further development of libraries, information studies and services in Thailand. Therefore the first issue volume 1 January- June 2008 of TLA Research Journal (Thai Library Association) bi monthly was published. This journal is still being issued until now.

Standards In 1965 Mr. Boonchana Atthakorn Director General of the Department of Technical Cooperation started to plan on the development of libraries in the whole country. Six groups of librarians cooperated to draft the country’s first Library Development Plan. It was supposed to be part of the large National Social and Economic Development Plan. Even though, it was not success in doing so but it was the starting point on the preparing of library standards by TLA. At present there are 5 library standards namely: Standard of Public Library 1990, Standard of Elementary School 2010, Standard of Secondary School 2010 and Standard of Library of Vocational and Technological School and college 1992. These Standards are observed by related types of library in the whole Kingdom.

Education and Trainings To develop libraries in Thailand, TLA at the period of its inception was insight on the training and formal library science education. The first library training program in Thailand was developed at the Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University in 1951 by the Fulbright commission that provided five library professors to teach courses for five years which awarded 77 people who completed the six basic courses. At this period a group of Thai librarians who attended library science courses at Chulalongkorn University under the Fulbright program during 1951-1952, had established the Thai Library Association in 1954. At present 13 state universities, 2 private universities and 29 Rajabhat universities offer the undergraduate program in library and information science. There are at least 11 universities offer Master of Library and information science and 2 universities offer Doctoral Program.

Beyond the role as central cooperation body on library and information services during this long period of 60 years, TLA had organized many training courses e.g. collection development, classification, conservation and preservation, library activity organization, library administration, reading promotion, application of computer in library works, report writing etc.

Development of libraries

National Library Thai Kings from early period of Thai history i.e. Sukhothai until present time had graciously evoked the work of libraries. In old time there were at least one depository of documents for royal consultation inside the palace. The amalgamation of three royal libraries into one library by King Chulalongkorn or Rama V of Bangkok period, as usually cited, was the establishment of The National Library of Thailand. Current President of the Thai Library Association, Professor Khunying Maenmas Chavalit is the person who led the development of modern National Library of Thailand since 1965. After successive upgrading, the National Library of Thailand now is one of a modern leading library of Asia. Some members of the TLA Executive Board in early years until the present time are librarians from the National Library of Thailand.

Public Libraries Although public libraries in Thailand are under the administration of many parent bodies e.g. The Non-Formal Education and Informal Education Commission, Ministration of Education, the local administrative bodies, provincial municipalities, the Department of Administration Promotion Ministry of Interior and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA), librarians are mostly observed the library standards of the Thai Library Association (TLA) and follows technical updates of TLA. Current Chair of librarians of Public Library Group is Mr. Kulthorn Lertsuriyakul of Non-Formal Education and Informal Education Commission, Ministry of Education.

School libraries More than 30,000 school libraries are under the Higher Education Commission, Basic Education Commission and the Private Education Commission of the Ministry of Education. Under the 1999 Nation Education Act and the 2002 Bureaucratic Reform Act, School libraries are part of the reform too. There are school libraries under the BMA, provincial municipality administration and Border Control Police Office . Librarians who are members and non members of TLA and School Library Section usually observe the school library standard of TLA. They constantly attend the TLA Annual Conference and Library Week Conference.

Academic libraries Thai Academic libraries or university libraries are recognized as the well equipped bodies as those libraries in developed countries. Most important reason behind this is because of parent body’s support. Most state higher education institutions are under the Higher Education Commission Ministry of Education. Some of them now are the government autonomous bodies of which, it is believed, more suitable to higher education management. There are number of private university with high developed libraries too. Academic Librarian Group of TLA usually organizes meetings and workshops on higher education libraries and access to universal information.

Special libraries There are a number of good special libraries in Thailand. Most of this libraries are under the Departments, Ministries,State Enterprises or autonomous bodies e.g. Library and Documentation Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Library of the Fishery Department, Library of the Thai Airways International, Library of the Department of Revenue, Archives and Library Bank of Thailand etc .These libraries are usually served personnel of their parent bodies. Librarians of this Special Library Group under TLA are very active especially on professional meeting and visits.


Beginning in 1960, annual conference is one of the most outstanding work of TLA. It is of preponderant concern for members, librarians and those who are interested in professional librarianship. The objectives of this conference are: to provide an opportunity for all library professionals around the country to meet and exchange their knowledge, ideas and experience among themselves, to gain insight into new developments and advanced techniques in the profession, to provide a channel to voice their complaints and grievances and to seek ways and means to solves professional problems. H.R.H.Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn is usually presided over the opening ceremony of the conference. When she is engage she will send her representative to preside over the opening ceremony on her behalf. During the conference there will be the announcement of yearly outstanding library awards, yearly outstanding librarian awards and yearly personage in library and information circle awards. Last TLA annual conference under the theme “Library development towards internationalization” presided over by H.R.H. Princess Soamsavali on behalf of H.R.H.Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok during 20-22 March 2013.

Consultation During the long period of 60 years of age TLA has been the main consultant on library development in Thailand. President, Vice Presidents and members of Executive Board of TLA are usually being invited to be a member of numerous library establishment and development projects. Most recent project is “Bangkok World Book Capital 2013” title given by UNESCO to Bangkok which was celebrated during 20-25 April 2013. Some of Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) projects of “Bangkok, Read for life” are : the establishment of City Library, Museum of Thai Literature, Reading Research Center and Museum of Thai Cartoons, “ Reading culture: Thinking culture” activities, promotion of books for children and youth, selection and promotion of literature for Bangkok residents, scientific books for scientific minds, and annual activities of all member of the Bangkok reading group from 2011-2013 etc.
Cooperation Beyond cooperation among libraries of all types and educational institutions, TLA also cooperates with other related organizations, program in developing library, book production and reading in Thailand for example Publishers and Booksellers Association of Thailand, National Book Fair Committee, Bangkok Book Fair Committee, Best Book Awards Committee Ministry of Education and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).
The Stock Exchange of Thailand Foundation on its corporate social responsibility set up the project “Eminent Persons in Enhancing Society”. Part of this project is the cooperation with TLA in yearly selection and announcement of “Professor Khunying Maenmas Chavalit Award” on eminent persons in library development in Thailand. It is planed that in the future this award would cover librarians in other countries too. Apart from government and autonomous bodies TLA also cooperates with foundation of private companies e.g. the CP Alls Foundation, the Amata Foundation and the Honda Cars Foundation etc.
Activities The TLA Executive Board members meet on the third Saturday of every month. The working group could be met any day during the month. Meeting is the stage for forming policies on library, information service development and reading promotion. 12th August of each year Thai people celebrate Her Majesty Queen Sirikit Birthday. To join the national wide celebration TLA also organize the Library Week on the topic related to Her Majesty activities. This Library Week program will follow by related library activities of the whole country. Last year the main program on “Reading promotion for self development” took place at the National Library of Thailand.
-Activities Conducted by TLA Sections and Library Groups Some sections and Library Groups of TLA organize meetings, seminars, workshops and library visits e.g. Academic Library Group conducted the meeting on “Technology of Cloud Computing on 24 August 2012 at the Center of Academic Resources of Chulalongkorn University and the Special Library Group conducted the meeting on “Branding Identity of Library and Information Services during 6-7 September 2012 at the Thailand Creation Development Center(TCDC)
International cooperation TLA cooperates with international organizations on library and information programs. Some programs and projects are:
-Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians-CONSAL. In 1971 Thailand by the TLA and the National Library was one of the founding member of CONSAL. According to CONSAL constitution, there will be three representatives from each member country in CONSAL Executive Board. President of TLA , one official of TLA and Director of the National Library of Thailand are the CONSAL Executive Board members from Thailand. CONSAL organizes the Conference once in every three years in member countries on rotation basis. In this connection Thailand hosted 4th CONSAL in 1978, the 9th CONSAL in 1993. Again in 2015 Thailand will host the 16th CONSAL in Bangkok under the topic “CONSAL Aspirations: Library for Sustainable Advancement”.
-International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions-IFLA TLA is the first member of IFLA and TLA cooperates with IFLA in many programs and projects e.g. the ALP Program, etc. TLA office was the office of the IFLA Regional Office for Asia and Oceania for many years before moving the present office at National Library of Singapore. One of the most prominent roles of TLA and NLT was the host of the 65th IFLA Conference in Bangkok in 1999. At the occasion of the handover ceremony of title “Bangkok World Book Capital 2013” from Yerevan Armenia to Bangkok Metropolis on 23 April 2013, Professor Khunying Maenmas Chavalit the President of TLA, upon the request of IFLA, gave the speech on behalf of the President of IFLA.
-Seeking for the support of foreign libraries and institutions To improve libraries in Thailand, TLA is also seeking the cooperation and support of foreign libraries and organizations. The project on the Request for assistance of Japanese Library Association and librarians to safeguard the damage libraries by flood in 2011 is the very good example.
-Professional visits Part of education and training of librarians, TLA organized professional visit to libraries, archives and learning centers in foreign countries e.g. Alexandria Library in Egypt, Libraries and Archives in Australia, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Korea etc.
About the cooperation with neighboring countries, the most recent project was the organizing of the professional visit for 4 librarians from Myanmar to Bangkok during 8-11 April 2013.
Future Plans At the cross road of libraries, information technology and ASEAN cooperation, TLA will continue to perform leading roles in library development, access to information and related missions for education, learning, culture and recreation of Thai people. Some plans of TLA in the future are: the closer cooperation among library associations and institutions in ASEAN members countries and beyond, the professional visits to libraries and learning centers in foreign countries, the production of up to date publications, documents handbooks and modern media materials, the re-consideration of status of librarians and information professionals, the update of library standards, the re-thinking on reading promotion, the cooperation with government and private organizations on library and information matters such as the Thai National Committee on Memory of the World Program of UNESCO, Best Book Awards Committee Ministry of Education, the National Library of Thailand Ministry of Culture, the Stock Exchange of Thailand Foundation and the Book Publishers and Book Sellers Association of Thailand. Last but not least Thai Library Association and the National Library of Thailand are now preparing to host the 16th CONSAL. We would, therefore, like to invite you to attend to the biggest gathering of librarians from Southeast Asian countries and from other countries at the 16th Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians meeting and conference “CONSAL Aspiration: Libraries for Sustainable Development” in Bangkok during May (or June) 2015.
IFLA’99 National Organizing Committee (1999) Libraries and Librarianship in Thailand:
from stone inscription to microchips /published by IFLA’99 National Organizing
Committee. Bangkok. 133p.
Mon Luang Joy Nandhivajrin. (1993)Thai Library Association under the Royal Patronage
of H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Bangkok: T.P. Prints Co. Ltd. 33p.
Namtip Wipawin.( 2012) Library and Information Science in Thailand submitted to
Indonesian Library Association as part of CONSAL Library and Information
Science Education Project 2012. (mimeograph)
TLA annual conference 2002 “The new age library: The leadership of learning”
Bangkok 8-12 December 2002. Bangkok: Sahathammiga, 2002. 182p. (in Thai)
TLA annual conference 2003 “Towards the development of library perfection” Bangkok
15-18 December 2003. Bangkok: Sahathammiga, 2003. 189p. (in Thai)
TLA annual conference 2006 “Library management in digital age” Bangkok 18-21
December 2006 Suchit Suvaphab editor .Bangkok: TLA, 2006. 219p. (in Thai)
TLA annual conference 2012 “Library development towards internationalization”
Bangkok 20-22 March 2013. Poonsook Priwatrworawute editor. Bangkok: TLA,
2013.236p. (in Thai)
TLA Bulletin (2007), 51 ( 2). special issue TLA annual conference 2007
“Information literacy for all: Learning for sufficient economy” Bangkok 11-21
December 2007. Bangkok: TLA. 281p. ( in Thai and English)
TLA Bulletin (2008), 52 ( 2). Khon Kaen: KkonKaen Printing.109p. (in Thai)
TLA Bulletin ( 2011), 55 (2 ). Bangkok: Ravin Group Printing.77p. (in Thai)
TLA Research Journal (2008), 1 ( 1). Kkon Kaen: Klangnanatham. 81p (in Thai)
TLA (1994). 40 years of Thai Library Association under the Patronage of H.R.H. Princess
Maha Chakri Sirindhorn 11 October 1994. Bangkok: Pethai Printing.318p.
(in Thai)