LAS Lifetime Contribution Award

The Award aims to honour a retiree who has significantly contributed to the development of the library profession in Singapore and who has represented Singapore on an international level. The recipient must have been actively involved in LAS over the span of his/her career and both length and level of service is considered. The nomination is by LAS Council.


The Award consists of a cheque of $3,000

Past Recipients

Sylvia Yap Swee Beng had an illustrious 43 year library career as one of Asia’s leading academic librarians and advocates of the library profession.

Sylvia joined the University of Singapore Library in 1973 upon receiving her honours degree in Zoology. She was then sponsored to attend a postgraduate course in London and was awarded a diploma in Library and Information Science in 1975 from the University of London. Upon returning to Singapore, Sylvia served in increasingly responsible roles in the Central, Medical and Science Libraries, rising to Deputy Librarian in 1991 and University Librarian in 2003, overseeing the NUS Libraries, comprising seven libraries.

With deft leadership and administrative skills, a keen eye for design, a recognition of technology trends, and a deep appreciation of the needs of the university community, Sylvia brought a fresh perspective to the NUS Libraries. She opened, brightened and expanded library spaces and made them more welcoming, accessible and conducive for the NUS community, encouraging more learning, collaboration, and innovation.

Among her major accomplishments, Sylvia set up the Science Library in 1986 and was involved in upgrading the Central, the Chinese and CJ Koh Law Libraries and supervised the building of the Central Library Annexe. She introduced DIALOG, a commercial online searching service, to the Singapore academic libraries in 1982.  She was also involved in many digital projects at the turn of the century transforming the NUS Libraries into an active digital hub.

Sylvia has been a powerful and passionate voice for libraries and librarians in Singapore and in Asia. She served as President of the Library Association of Singapore (2005-2007) and was a member or chair of numerous LAS committees. As LAS President, Sylvia oversaw the LAS 50th Anniversary celebrations, championed and chaired the Professional Development Scheme Board, launched the LAS annual conference, established the LAS awards panel, and kept a careful eye on LAS finances. Outside of LAS, she was appointed to the National Library Board (2005-2009) and the National Archives of Singapore Board (2009-2011).

Internationally, Sylvia was an active speaker at regional library forums, a long serving member of the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance, where academic librarians around the Pacific Rim collaborated on digital initiatives, and a member of the Organizing Committee for the IFLA World Library Congress held in Singapore in 2013.

Sylvia received the Efficiency Medal, National Day Award (1988), the Long Service Medal, National Day Award (2006), LAS Professional Service Award (2009), Public Administration Medal (Silver), National Day Award (2010), and the NUS Outstanding Science Alumni Award (2014) in recognition of her work and achievements.

In appreciation of an extraordinarily distinguished library career, marked by vision, devotion, hard work, fairness, warmth, humor, and humility, LAS is privileged to present Sylvia Yap Swee Beng with the 2018 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Mr Koh Thong Ngee had a career in academic libraries that spanned 32 years. He contributed to the Library Association of Singapore over a period of 16 years.

He joined the Nanyang University Library service in February 1960 as a Graduate Assistant in the Chinese Department. He was appointed Head of Acquisitions soon after. From 1964to 1972, he served as  Deputy Librarian. In 1973, he became the Librarian and held that position until 1980. When the University of Singapore and Nanyang University merged in August 1980, he was absorbed into the National University of Singapore (NUS) Library service and continued as Librarian. In 1983, he was concurrently appointed Head of Chinese Library. In July 1991, he was appointed Acting Chief Librarian of NUS Library where he remained until his retirement  in 1992.

Mr Koh was concerned with the development and welfare of support staff in the NUS Libraries. During his tenure he sought to  provide a good career path for the library attendants. In particular, he helped to promote eligible library attendants to the clerical grade. He also encouraged interracial interaction among staff. Those were the days when the library staff held parties to celebrate important festivals of each ethnic group like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Deepavali. He also worked very closely with and supported union representatives in their various welfare efforts. Additionally, he enjoyed mentoring young librarians in NUS.

Improving library physical facilities was another area he worked on tirelessly. He was interested in how to better use the limited space in the NUS Libraries and achieved it with small-scale renovations over time. When the NUS Libraries received additional space, he decided to build a single central storage facility to benefit all of the NUS libraries. With this central storage, each library freed up space to provide more seating areas for the users.

Mr Koh was active in the Library Association of Singapore. He was LAS President from 1973 to 1975 and participated in  LAS committees on censorship, constitution review, copyright, library education, library cooperation and training from 1971 to 1987.

For his dedicated leadership and service to the library profession, LAS is privileged to honour Mr Koh Thong Ngee with the 2017 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Mrs. Isabel Yeo had a distinguished career spanning over three decades in public, special, and academic libraries, including heading three libraries and the Library Association of Singapore (LAS).

Upon graduating with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree from the then University of Singapore, she joined the National Library’s (NL) Children Services as a trainee librarian. She went on to study librarianship in New Zealand under an award sponsored by the Colombo Plan Scholarship. After returning from New Zealand, Isabel continued to work at the NL’s Central Children’s Service, Reference and then headed NL’s Microfilm Unit before leaving in 1979 to lead the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Library. After leaving MTI, she became the Chief Librarian of the Straits Times Editorial Library, where she remained for ten years.

From serving in public and special libraries, Isabel moved into the academic sphere as Head of Library 2 at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) from 1991 to 1994. Upon the retirement of Mr. Ng Soo Kwee, Head Librarian of the National Institute of Education (NIE) Library, Isabel was appointed as his successor, and led the Library from December 1994 until her retirement in September 2009. During this period, she oversaw many transformations, including the significant shift from print to e-resources in the late 1990s, the memorable re-location from the Bukit Timah Campus to the current Yunnan Garden Campus in 2000, the conceptualisation of an IT-enabled collaborative learning space cum café in the early 2000s, and the provision of seamless digital library services in the mid-2000s. Isabel was also instrumental in the creation of two special collections at NIE Library: the C J Koh Collection, which focuses on teacher education and teaching methods, and the Singapore Educational Resources (SEDU) Collection, which serves as an archive for materials related to Singapore education.

Isabel was very active in the LAS throughout her career, holding multiple positions on the LAS Council and committees. During the 1980s, she served in the following capacity:  Hon. Secretary, Editor for Singapore Libraries, Joint Standing Committee Member on Bibliographical and Library Cooperation, Member of the Library and Information Research Group (LIRG), PPM/LAS, School Library Section and Chairperson of the Programmes Committee and Special Libraries Committee. In 1991/92, she was Vice-President of the LAS Council, and President from 1995-97. During her term as President, the LAS Council initiated a popular scheme enabling members to enjoy discount privileges at participating outlets upon producing their LAS membership card. As President of LAS, Isabel was also an ex-officio member of the National Library Board’s (NLB) Manpower Advisory Committee, and was nominated to represent the LAS on the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS).

For her dedicated leadership and service to the library profession, LAS is privileged to honour Isabel Yeo with the 2016 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Ms Ch’ng Kim See is a visionary and charismatic leader who was a dedicated Librarian and an expert in Southeast Asia studies for nearly four decades. She specialised in the history and politics of Southeast Asia, authoring 40 articles, editing and indexing several books, and compiling several bibliographies.

Kim See earned an Honours degree from the University of Malaya, a Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship from University of New South Wales, Sydney, an MSc in Information Studies from the University of Sheffield and is working on her PhD dissertation.

Kim See began her career in Kuala Lumpur as a journalist with the Straits Times Press; switched to librarianship and made rapid leaps in her career as Head of Cataloguing and Classification Division, National Library of Malaysia; and Director/Chief Librarian of the U.S. Information Service Lincoln Cultural Centre, before becoming Head, Technical Services, Joint United Nations/International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Vienna International Centre Library.

From January 1988 through 2011, Kim See served as Head of the Library of the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS). She transformed the Library into one of the world’s leading Southeast Asian collections. She oversaw the computerization process, launched the OPAC in 1993 and moved it onto the Web a decade later.

Kim See significantly enhanced the collection development programme by developing close ties with many prominent figures in Southeast Asia and dramatically increased the acquisition of rare materials and private papers. She also improved access to the collection while focusing on preservation, conservation, digitisation, and exhibitions.

Kim See built a vast network of national, regional and international relationships and was invited to serve in leadership roles on many prestigious library-related boards and committees in Singapore and abroad. Kim See was a leader in both the Library Association of Singapore and Malaysia for over ten years each. She was the President of the Library Association of Malaysia, and Honorary Secretary, and served on the Executive Board of CONSAL V. After moving to Singapore in 1988, she served as Honourable Secretary, LAS Council Member and Chair of various important Committees and represented the LAS in the committee to study the feasibility of a postgraduate school (PRIM) and later lectured at NTU.

Kim See was the heart and soul of the ISEAS Library. Through her dynamic leadership, Kim See achieved her vision of making ISEAS one of Asia’s most unique, relevant, and treasured libraries. For her devotion to the library profession in Singapore and abroad and her contribution to enhancing the understanding of Southeast Asia, LAS is privileged to honour Ch’ng Kim See with the 2015 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Wee Joo Gim is one of Singapore’s pioneer librarians whose stellar career as a creative and tireless problem solver, nation builder, and widely admired library leader spanned nearly 40 years.

Joo Gim began her career at the Singapore Polytechnic Library in 1966 where she won a prestigious Ford Foundation Scholarship to study Library Science at the University of Wisconsin in the United States. In 1970, she joined the University of Singapore’s Medical and later Engineering Library before being tapped to create and lead the Colombo Plan Staff College Library for Technician Education serving participants from 26 Colombo Plan countries for nearly a decade.

In 1984, she was appointed Assistant Director of the Reference Library at the National Productivity Board, which she administered, reorganized and marketed, before returning to the National University of Singapore Library in 1986 as Assistant Librarian at the Medical Library. She was soon promoted to head the library, where she continued to enhance its reputation as Southeast Asia’s leading medical library. In 1993, Joo Gim was appointed Deputy Librarian of the NUS Library System in charge of technical services, helping to spawn a culture of continual process improvement, including reorganizing the Technical Services and introducing more IT-based programs and services. She concluded her formal library career in 2003, after working two years as Principal Assistant Librarian to implement the project to organize the digitized Photographs Collection of NUS’ Central Library.

Joo Gim’s name was synonymous with the Library Association of Singapore (LAS). She was a hands-on, collaborative, frugal, and visionary leader who held virtually every LAS Council position, including serving five terms as LAS Council President. She championed numerous forward-looking initiatives, such as establishing a library school, funding the education and professional development of librarians, encouraging greater cooperation among libraries and librarians, raising the status of librarians, creating a permanent LAS Secretariat, and building a healthier financial position for LAS. She served on nearly a dozen LAS committees, organized innumerable events, and also represented LAS regionally on CONSAL’s Executive Board and the Commonwealth Library Association (COMLA) Council.

Joo Gim has been recognized as a forthright and principled role model, strict task master, perfectionist, and respected colleague. She patiently mentored and inspired a generation of librarians, changed lives, built warm and lasting friendships with peers, and brilliantly chronicled the development of Singapore’s libraries and LAS. In recognition of her deep commitment, selfless service, and passionate efforts to promote and strengthen LAS and the library community in Singapore and the rest of Asia, it is a privilege to honour Wee Joo Gim with the 2014 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

The Lifetime Contribution Award is designed to honour a retired librarian who has significantly contributed to the development of the library profession in Singapore and who has represented Singapore on an international level. The person must also have had a strong relationship with LAS and been actively involved in LAS over the span of his/her career. This is an award given to deserving members only when the Council identifies a worthy winner. This year’s recipient is Rasu Ramachandran, who magnificently fulfills all of the above mentioned criteria.

Mr Rama is a very passionate and committed librarian and leader who for nearly four decades has played a crucial role in the transformation and modernization of the library system in Singapore and the rest of Asia.

In his career at the National Library, which began as a Library Officer in 1969, Mr. Rama moved into senior roles in most key Divisions including Education Officer, Staff Development and Welfare Officer, Branch Head, Assistant Director of Technical Services, Deputy Director of Reference and Support Services, Director of the National Library and ultimately Deputy Chief Executive of the National Library Board.

As his career progressed he was involved in many of the boldest and most exciting initiatives in the National Library’s history which have profoundly changed Singapore’s library system. In the early years, he was instrumental in obtaining funding and training programs for librarians and library assistants and taking library services to the heartlands through a nation-wide system of branch libraries. He played a critical role in drafting the National Library Board Act 1995 which paved the way for establishing NLB. He was also a member of the Library 2000 Committee which reviewed and formulated the master plan for developing library services in Singapore as well as being deeply involved in its implementation. Realising the importance of the National Library Services as different from Public Library Services Rama developed and introduced a range of National Library services including Reference Point in 1996 and InfoXpress to make information about Singapore more readily accessible. He oversaw the Asian Children’s Festival, the Emerging Trends in Library and Archival Services and the World Library Summit which collectively drew the attention of outstanding Library developments in Singapore and the region to the rest of the world.

In addition to his leadership roles in the National Library, Mr. Rama was actively involved in professional organizations in and outside of Singapore. He was Editor of Singapore Libraries, served on the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) Council for 14 years, including becoming the Library Association of Singapore’s Honorary Secretary and served 8 years as LAS President with the goal of making it a more relevant, inclusive, cooperative, and dynamic organization. He has been praised for his role in mentoring a new generation of librarians at LAS and the National Library. He has also published widely in publications such as Singapore Book World, Malayan Law Journal and the UNESCO Bulletin for Libraries.

Mr Rama made significant inroads in expanding the role of Singapore’s libraries in Asia and beyond. In 2000, he was appointed the first Secretary-General of the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians and was an ardent, untiring advocate and supporter of CONSAL’s mission in Singapore and Southeast Asia and vigorously tried to lift Singapore’s role on the international stage. In 2004,after retiring from the National Library he was appointed as the Secretary-General of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), one of the most important international professional library bodies. In addition, he has been Vice President of the Commonwealth Library Association (COMLA), Chairman of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania, and a Member of the Library Education Committee, Asia Library & Information Virtual Association (ALIVA), Indian Library Services Advisory Panel, and the International Federation for Documentation.

In 2006, after his remarkable career at NLB and contribution to library development in the region, he continued in an aligned field as he became Executive Director of the National Book Development Council of Singapore. Since becoming Executive Director he has brought the organisation to a new level of achievement.

Mr Rama’s contributions to the library profession have been recognised with some of the library profession’s highest honours including the CONSAL Outstanding Librarian Award in 2006, Singapore’s Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 1996 and the LAS Professional Service Award in 2008.

Mr Rama’s greatest gift to the library world is the example that he has set for generations of librarians through a never say die attitude and the fervent belief that even when faced with inadequate resources, the combination of conviction, vision determination, resourcefulness, and tenacity along with fairness, inclusiveness, and good promotion, can push sound ideas and programmes to fruition.

In recognition of a lifetime of remarkable success in illuminating the role and value of libraries in Singapore and abroad through inspired and fair-minded leadership, forceful advocacy, and enduring support of libraries, librarians and their professional associations, it is a privilege to present the 2013 Library Association of Singapore’s Lifetime Contribution Award to Rasu Ramachandran.

Chan Thye Seng is a pioneer who during a 34-year career soared through the ranks of Singapore’s National Library, heading key divisions including the Adult Lending Section, the Library Extension Section, the Home Reading Division, and the Planning, Training, Research & Development Division. Perhaps most important, he conceived of and managed the mobile library initiative and the library’s decentralisation program including planning the first branch at Queenstown and managing the enormously successful Marine Parade and Toa Payoh Branches as well as chairing the Work Improvement Team movement.

At an early stage in his career, Chan Thye Seng recognized the importance of participating in library organizations. He joined the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) in 1959, became a Life Member in 1965, served as a Member and Chairperson of many committees and held top LAS leadership positions including Council Member, Honorable Secretary, Vice President, and President. He also traveled extensively and was actively involved in representing the National Library and LAS in international library organizations including COMLA, IFLA, and CONSAL. In addition, Chan Thye Seng relishes sharing his knowledge and experience. He is a prolific writer who has authored over 100 articles, papers, and commentaries, principally chronicling the development of Singapore’s library system. Even in retirement, Chan Thye Seng actively contributes to major LAS events and publications.

In recognition of one-half century of involvement in the library community in Singapore and abroad as a talented innovator, excellent manager, devoted mentor, cherished friend, and noted editor, author, and speaker, we honor Chan Thye Seng with the 2011 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Datin Patricia Lim Pui Huen is a library leader and scholar who identified the needs, fought the battles, chronicled the developments and led the effort to create many essential practices and institutions underlying the success of Singapore’s libraries today.

Through her keen intellect, articulate questioning, brilliant insights, collaborative efforts, and prolific writing she built a career in prominent public, academic, and special libraries in Singapore and Malaysia, including nearly 20 years as the founding Librarian of the world class Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Library and over a decade as an ISEAS Research Fellow.

Pat was a leader and active participant in the Library Association of Singapore serving as President, Vice President, Council Member, and Editor of the Singapore Library Journal. However, her most enduring contributions came through nearly 30 years as Chair of key committees in LAS which oversaw complex and controversial efforts to establish Asian language classification standards, to develop collaborative micro forming guidelines, to create the Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians (CONSAL), and through TALIA, to prepare the paper ultimately leading to the establishment of Singapore’s own library school.

In gratitude for decades of outstanding service to Singapore’s library community, we honour Datin Patricia Lim Pui Huen, with the 2010 LAS Lifetime Contribution Award.

Mrs Rosemary Yeap was a pioneer and leader in Singapore’s library community for over three decades. As Chief Librarian of the Singapore Polytechnic, from 1961 to 1988, she oversaw the development of highly regarded libraries on three campuses and was known for her indefatigable spirit, friendship, guidance, passion, and dedication to her profession.

Mrs Yeap was a founder, leader, and active member of the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) form 1960-1991. She served LAS as President, Vice President, Honourable Secretary, Council Member, Editor of the Majallah Perpustakaan Singapura/Singapore Library Journal and member of numerous Committees from Library Education to Library Automation.

Mrs Yeap also had a significant influence on Government policy related to libraries through her participation on Ministry of Education Committees. Her service to her country led to her being awarded the Public Administration Medal in 1985.

The Library Association of Singapore extends its heartfelt thanks to Rosemary Yeap, a living legend and role model, who set the benchmark for the library professional in Singapore. We recognize and praise Mrs Yeap’s enormous contributions to the Singapore library community and to the citizens of Singapore.

Mrs Hedwig Anuar, an exemplary leader, administrator, coach and mentor, is an outstanding librarian who has contributed immeasurably to the library profession and library development in Singapore and Malaysia, from the early 1950s to the late 1980s. She was Director of the National Library of Singapore from 1965 to 1988.

Mrs Anuar initiated the inauguration of the Malayan Library Group in 1954 and served as President of the Library Association of Singapore from 1963 to1965. In her over 30 years of distinguished library career, she contributed more than 100 journal articles, conference papers, bibliographies and radio readings on librarianship in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia.

Affectionately known as the “First Lady of the National Library”, Mrs Anuar is well respected, loved and admired by librarians and non-librarians alike. She is extraordinary.

The award was presented on 1 November 2007 at the launch of the inaugural Singapore Library Week.