The Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL) was founded in Singapore in 1970 in response to a growing sense of Southeast Asian identity, fostered particularly by the formation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The initiative in forming CONSAL was taken by the Library Associations of Singapore and Malaysia, due to their common origin and long history of close cooperation.
Representatives from the library associations of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and South Vietnam ratified its first constitution and the first CONSAL participants came from these seven countries. To date, CONSAL has 10 members which includes the library associations and librarians of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
CONSAL holds a conference every three years in each member country by turn. It promotes cooperation in the fields of librarianship, bibliography, documentation and related activities.
Membership is open to libraries, library schools, national library associations, national libraries, library schools and other related organizations in the region. The constitution of CONSAL provides for national membership confined to librarians, national library associations, national libraries, library schools and other related organizations in member countries and associate membership for libraries, related organizations and individuals outside member countries.
In April 2000, the CONSAL Executive Board agreed on the establishment of the CONSAL SECRETARIAT hosted by Singapore for a period of three years. The primary role of the Secretariat will be to coordinate CONSAL approved projects. Mr. R. Ramachandran was appointed as the first Secretary General of the CONSAL Secretariat.
CONSAL receives financial support from international organizations, governments and firms within the region as well as organizations outside the region, including UNESCO, IFLA, the Commonwealth Foundation and the National Library of Australia. It also carries out various fund-raising activities.