LAS Professional Service Award

The LAS Professional Service Award aims to recognise LAS members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to the library profession.

The Award

The award consists of a cheque worth S$1,000.

Selection Criteria

  • Active LAS personal member working in the library profession with more than five years experience;
  • Shows strong leadership in the profession; and
  • Made significant contributions to the profession over a period of time.

Council and LAS Award Panel are eligible to submit nominations for deliberation.

Who is not eligible

  • Current LAS Council members
  • Current LAS Award Panel members
  • Recipients of LAS Lifetime Contribution Award
  • Recipients of Honorary Membership
  • Recipients of LAS Professional Service Award in the past 5 years

Selection Process

The LAS Awards Panel shall evaluate nominations received based on content and thoroughness of information provided. Incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

The LAS Awards Panel shall send the recommendations to the LAS Council for endorsement.

Presentation

The Award will be presented at an annual LAS event.

Submission Procedure

Please complete and submit the application form along with the required supporting documents to awards@las.org.sg. Nominations must be received by 28 February by 12 PM.

Required Outcomes

The recipient will be required to share his/her experience and new knowledge gained from the event with LAS members before 30 December 2022. This can be done through any pre-agreed sharing such as the following:

  • Submit an article, 1000 words, to the Singapore Libraries Bulletin.
  • Conduct a sharing session for the LAS community.

Past Recipients

Joan Wee has more than 10 years of Academic Library experience and is an author, educator, technologist, and leader. In her Library career, she has held academic library positions at the Singapore Management University (SMU), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and is presently the University Librarian with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) Library. 

Since joining SIT Library in 2016, Joan has strengthened the Library’s role as an essential learning and research partner of students and faculty, and in support of the University’s goal of transformational teaching and learning. Under her leadership, the Library has successfully embedded Information and Digital Literacy (IDL) in SIT undergraduate programmes. The IDL programmes are designed to align with university pedagogy and are able to assess the impact of learning by incorporating IDL learning competencies with the University’s captured student competencies.

Joan has been able to ensure the sustainability of SIT Library’s initiatives through strategic positioning in the University and foresight in Resources Management. For example, SIT Library has taken the direction of being an E-preferred library with 99 per cent of the Library’s resources available online. In early-2020, the team also began developing customised IDL micro-modules for students. Students could choose to take these modules at their point of need, and Librarians would use these modules as pre-lesson resources for a flipped-classroom approach. As a result, when SIT Library had to be closed due to COVID-19 Circuit Breaker measures, library staff were able to adapt IDL sessions quickly and easily.

Joan also actively seeks out opportunities to expand SIT Library’s plans and to prepare staff to meet these changes. Some initiatives at the forefront of technology include SMART Lockers, Robotic Automatic Processing (RPA) processes, and a facial-recognition walk-through lane to borrow Library items. For her efforts, she received the University’s Gold Award for Staff Appreciation in 2020. A Gold Award is awarded to a staff member who is consistently seen as a role model and has made an impressive contribution to the University that shows unique thinking, leadership, and risk-taking, and leads to delighted clients. Apart from being the University Librarian, Joan has also taken on the Culture Lead role at SIT where she works closely with the University President to drive university culture.

In her four years with the Nanyang Technology University (NTU) Libraries as a New Media Librarian, Joan partnered with the faculty to design and provide consultation and training on various social media tools and strategies that effectively supported the teaching, research, community building and marketing needs of the user. She worked on meaningful projects with many NTU researchers and even presented one of the projects with a faculty member in the first Singapore WordCamp in 2016. She was in the pioneer team to roll out alternate metrics (Altmetrics) services monitoring for researchers and was invited and sponsored to speak at the first Altmetrics conference, 1: AM, held at London in 2014. She has shared about her work in local and international conferences, and has selflessly served and volunteered at several initiatives contributing to professionalism in libraries in Singapore. She was a co-opted Council member with the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) for 2011. She organised the LAS New Year Bash, Annual General Meeting (AGM), and an engagement session “What makes a Librarian? A SWOT analysis”. She continued to stay on after her term as a LAS membership committee member in 2013 and has remained a Website / IT Committee member from 2015 till date. 

In the international arena, Joan was the Information Coordinator and Editor for Trends & Issues in Library Technology (TILT) of IFLA from 2017 – 2019. She shared and raised the professional profile of libraries in Singapore by showcasing Singapore library initiatives in TILT. Together with Ms Karryl Sagun from Rizal Library, she also started the 23 Mobile Things Programme in Singapore and the Philippines. This tailored, self-paced, self-exploratory online course brought together media-savvy professionals to share about different mobile tools and applications available on 23 Mobile devices for a period of 23 weeks in 2014. More than 200 Librarians and paraprofessionals from Singapore and the Philippines joined in the learning. 

Joan is also an active mentor of young Librarians who have just joined the profession or are considering switching careers to become information professionals. She believes in modernising the image of Librarianship and takes efforts to instil this in the team members training student ambassadors as they are actively involved in the Library’s projects and advocate for the Library as their learning partner. A comprehensive training programme was conducted for the students to understand the transformative role of the Library as a connector and to discover ideas, knowledge, and people. 

With her significant contributions to the development of the Library profession in Singapore and representation of Singapore on an international level, Joan has been awarded the LAS Professional Service Award for 2020.

Lee Cheng Ean has been in the library profession for 38 years. Her strong passion for the profession drove her to play a key and active role to reposition libraries, particularly academic libraries, and librarians in advancing scholarship and supporting research and education in her various capacities as the University Librarian of NUS (since 2014), President of LAS (2013-2015), Chair of Pacific Rim Research Libraries Alliance Secretariat (2019-2021), Chair of the Singapore Alliance of University Libraries (2019), a member of the OA Dialogue Taskforce (National Research Foundation (2019-2020), member of library advisory boards of several publishers, and a prominent and inspiring presenter at many national and international library conferences.

To support NUS’s vision in transforming lives through education and impactful research, she advocates a strong partnership between librarians, faculty, and researchers. With a strong belief that librarians have to reform their roles in order to remain relevant to teaching, learning, and research activities of the community they serve, she set-up a Technology-Enhanced-Learning (TEL) Imaginarium in NUS Libraries, in collaboration with the university administrators, making it the first library in Singapore with such space and facility. This opened up wide opportunities for her librarians to learn new skillsets and competencies including developing apps as they collaborated with faculty and researchers. By conducting the workshops and creating exciting thematic games to promote the use of such devices, the librarians’ expanded the scope of teaching digital literacy while at the same time making the library a hotbed for creative learning.

One of her notable achievements include the NUS Libraries’ digitisation programme of rare and special materials that have research and heritage value for Singapore studies which were no longer copyrighted. The digitised collections, brought together in one stop called Digital Gems, were launched last year for open access to the global community.

As a strong champion of collaboration among libraries, in 2019, she led the formation of the Singapore Alliance of University Libraries (SAUL) among six autonomous university libraries in Singapore for deeper collaboration by complementing rather than competing with each other. She is currently the Chair of SAULeres, the E-resources sub-committee committed to collective negotiations with publishers for favourable agreements on access and use of E-resources among the universities.

Internationally, Cheng Ean has actively participated in the annual and strategic meetings organised by the Libraries of ASEAN University Network (AUNILO) and providing advice and sharing knowledge on the initiatives of NUS Libraries.

As a passionate and a strong believer in staff training and development, in 2014, she collaborated with the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information at NTU to introduce the LAS Executive Library Management Programme (ELMP) that provided certified basic training on library management for executives without library qualifications to work in libraries. In the same year, with donations from the Singapore National Committee, her team launched the LAS WLIC Grant aimed at providing LAS members with financial support and opportunities to learn and network by attending IFLA World Library and Information Congress or Satellite Meetings. In 2015, Cheng Ean initiated and organised the first ACRL immersion programme for academic librarians in Singapore. The programme on information literacy benefited many librarians from NUS, Yale-NUS, NTU, and SMU.

As a champion of service excellence and process improvement, Cheng Ean led many initiatives to improve work processes in NUS Libraries. She introduced process improvement using Lean Six Sigma (LSS) and Service Design concepts to NUS Libraries and the 10 LSS teams won accolades in the University, at the International Convention on QC Circles, and the ASQ World Conference and Quality Improvement. In addition, as the chair of the NUS Library Service Excellence Committee, she led NUS Libraries to win the Outstanding Award for Service Excellence in the NUS Service Class (NUSSC) in 2010, making the team the first to attain such Award at the University.

To many of us, she is a people developer, mentor, coach, and a true inspiration. In appreciation of her outstanding contributions to her organisation and to the profession at both a national and international level, LAS takes great pride to present the 2019 LAS – APBSLG (SG) Professional Service Award to Cheng Ean.

Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin has been an enthusiastic advocate of reading, sharing her passion for books with both young and old over her 40-year career with the public libraries. She has inspired and mentored many young librarians, who have since grown to hold key professional and management positions.

Her notable achievements are setting up and management of Community Children’s Libraries at HDB void decks in the 1990s, for children to gain easy access to library books and programmes, at a time when there were not as many public libraries as today. In 2001, she launched the “Born to Read, Read to Bond” project, where reading pouches for babies were distributed to 30,000 parents of newborns in hospitals to encourage parents to start reading to their children at a young age. For the “National kidsREAD programme” launched in 2004, Mrs. Kiang led the team to reach out to over 20,000 disadvantaged children to instil a love for books in them. She also led the nationwide READ! Singapore campaign launched in 2005, to promote a culture of reading in Singapore in the 4 official languages. She displayed great professional leadership in making the READ! Singapore a success, reaching out to more than 600,000 readers. Not only was she able to rally support from schools and teachers, she was also able to motivate non-readers such as hairdressers, taxi drivers and service staff to form reading clubs, coming together to share ideas and enrich one another’s lives.

Mrs Kiang is a Life Member of LAS. She served on the Publications Committee as Distribution Manager in the 1980s, and Chair of the Programmes and Social Committee from 2001 to 2003.

On the international front, Mrs Kiang served as a Committee Member of Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section, IFLA from 2000 to 2005. She edited the newsletter for the Section from 2003 to 2005 and received the “Best Newsletter of the Year Award 2005” during IFLA WLIC in Oslo. She received CONSAL’s “Outstanding Librarian Award – Silver Medal” in 2009 during the 14th General Conference of the CONSAL in Hanoi, for her contributions to promoting, nurturing, and sustaining reading in Singapore.

She received the Public Administration Medal (Bronze) in 1990. She has been the President of the Society for Reading and Literacy in Singapore since 2018 and has served as council member and secretary since 2014. She has been working with the Oral History Centre to interview political and community leaders from 2014. She continues to contribute to the reading and literacy scene in Singapore, sharing her expertise and exercising her influence as a librarian.

LAS is delighted to honour Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin with the 2018 LAS Professional Service Award.

Caroline Pang exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurship, collaboration and leadership. She has contributed significantly to the Singapore library landscape by setting up three special libraries; Tanoto Library at INSEAD, Library at the National Cancer Centre, and, the Medical Library at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), NTU. She is in the midst of setting up the Heritage Centre for LKCMedicine.

Caroline oversaw the planning, development and launch of the state-of-the-art Medical Library located on the top floor of the Clinical Sciences building, LKCMedicine. Under her leadership, the new library opened its doors in February 2017, operating on a 24×7 model with a variety of flexible spaces to meet the needs of the users. Caroline also set up an impressive collection of medical journals, textbooks and unique collections, such as the Medical Art Print Collection, Children’s Health Collection and Singapore (SG) Doctors. In April 2017, Caroline led a library information literacy project team that was awarded a full grant of $40,000 from NTU’s Teaching, Learning and Pedagogy Division.

She was recognized at the 2017 Nanyang Awards by NTU for teamwork with the NTU Museum and Student Life. She was involved in the two-year project that saw seven local artists and nineteen staff members, faculty, and students work together to create works of art which championed environmental sustainability and interdisciplinary collaboration. Caroline also worked with other departments at LKCMedicine to shape the policy on records management and archives. She was instrumental in the evaluation, selection and development of a registry and archive system for LKCMedicine.

Caroline is generous with her knowledge and contributes to the development of other libraries unreservedly and to making information available to the wider community. Caroline positioned the Medical Library to serve the information needs of the Health City Novena community. In addition, she set up the resource centre at the Geriatric Education and Research Institute (GERI) and provides unstinting advice to the National Health Group cluster on managing their e-resources and library services.

Caroline was also involved in the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) as a member of the Business Development Committee from 2007 to 2011. In those years, she demonstrated tenacity, collaboration and professionalism in working with the committee members to secure sponsorships for LAS.

For her indomitable spirit, inspiration and accomplishments, but more importantly, for her leadership and collaborative efforts within and outside the library profession, LAS honors Caroline Pang with the 2017 LAS Professional Service Award.

Wong Kah Wei has been working as a librarian since 1985 and started teaching information literacy in the late 1990s. She has demonstrated much dedication in imparting lifelong learning information seeking skills to all levels of students, including librarians.

She was appointed as the Head of Learning Services, NUS Libraries in 2006. As the Head, she introduced many innovative methods and initiatives in teaching and coaching students and librarians. Breaking through the traditional concept of librarians teaching information literacy on its own, Kah Wei sought buy-in from faculty members to integrate information literacy closely into the curriculum. Her rationale is to contextualize learning information literacy in academic learning so that students experience the relevance of information literacy skills in their everyday learning. She also ensured that librarians play an integral role in managing and lecturing in doctoral level courses in research methods.

By building bridges to increase collaboration with faculty, she created a gem of an initiative. In 2016, Kah Wei became the first embedded librarian at NUS. She took on the role of an Academic Advisor at Ridge View Residential College. She coached a class for the module on environmental sustainability. She also planned and implemented the instructional design for information literacy in the module’s syllabus. She adopted innovative pedagogies to support inductive and peer learning by applying flipped classroom and a framework from which students progressively learnt. She introduced the PESTLE framework which was adopted in all the tutorials for the modules. Her information literacy learning objectives were applied by all Academic Advisors of the module.

Kah Wei is the key trainer of information literacy at NUS Libraries. In training librarians, she not only shares her experiences but also uses these sharing and training workshops as test beds to apply new methods she discovers. In her training of librarians, Kah Wei takes a meta-approach to encourage librarians to bridge gaps and to transform minds and the way we do things.

Kah Wei contributed to the profession at LAS events like the inaugural Executive Library Management Program (ELMP) organized by LAS in 2014. She spoke at the seminar on information literacy in 2015 and at various runs of “A Day in the Life of…..” programme. Through unique insights and continual innovation, she has made remarkable strides and demonstrated exceptional leadership in the field of information literacy in a career that has spanned more than three decades in Singapore.

For her persistence, dedication, and creativity in helping to significantly improve the role of the library and librarians in higher education in Singapore and promoting the importance of lifelong learning, LAS is delighted to honour Wong Kah Wei with the 2016 LAS Professional Service Award.

Aaron Tay is an accomplished academic librarian whose understanding of trends and technologies in the library and information science field is widely recognised in Singapore and abroad.

After earning an Accounting degree from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and working as an Auditor, Aaron switched careers and became a librarian. He received an MSc in Information Studies from NTU in 2007 and worked at the National University of Singapore (NUS) for eight years, rising rapidly to become a Senior Librarian and E-Service Facilitator. At NUS, Aaron worked on improving internal library processes, introducing digital initiatives to enhance the user experience and analysing large volumes of data to make recommendations on library strategy. In 2015, he joined SMU Libraries as the Library Analytics Manager and Research Librarian, Accountancy.

Aaron is a valued mentor known for being approachable, patient, thoughtful, considerate, collaborative and a true team player. In addition to advising colleagues at NUS and NTU, in 2013-2014 he helped to plan, evaluate, and serve as one of the first participants in the pilot staff development program called ‘A Day in the life of……’ with librarians from NTU, NUS and SMU.

Aaron is recognised for thought-provoking commentary on library science technology trends which appear in respected international publications such as JASIST and his very popular, award-winning blog for academic librarians. He is frequently invited to speak at conferences and seminars in Singapore and globally. He was a member of the Expert Panel for the NMC Horizon Report – Library Edition 2014 and 2015; which is a report that decision-makers use for planning purposes. In 2013, he was the keynote speaker at the National Workshop on Web-Scale Discovery Services: Transforming Access to Library Resources in India.

As a result of his accomplishments, Aaron has received many important awards including NUS Service Achiever award (2103), NUS Libraries Shining Star (2012), CONSAL’s Outstanding Librarian, Silver Award (2012), Salem Press, Best Academic Library Blog (2012), Library Journal Mover & Shaker award (2011), LAS Libraries for Tomorrow Seminar Best Speaker award (2011), and LAS Outstanding Newcomer Award (2011).

We are fortunate to have a librarian like Aaron Tay who in less than ten years has made impactful contributions to librarianship. In recognition of his dedication to the profession and willingness to share his knowledge, ideas and thoughts, Aaron Tay is awarded the 2015 LAS Professional Service Award.

Idris bin Rashid Khan Surattee is being honoured today with the 2013 LAS Professional Service Award which is designed to recognise LAS members who demonstrate outstanding leadership and commitment to the library profession.

In the course of a 30-year career, Idris has had a significant influence and left an indelible mark on Singapore librarianship in the public and private sector.

Idris began his career at the British Council Library before spending over 25 years at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) where he has risen to the rank of Head Librarian and Vice President of the Information Resource Centre, a position he has held for over a decade. He has spearheaded the effort to build the SPH Information Resource Centre into a cutting edge, world class news library and repository for many of Singapore’s most important historical documents and in the process demonstrated how libraries can offer value and thrive in a constantly changing and highly competitive corporate environment.

Idris’ management and leadership skills are highly acclaimed within SPH. He has been a fount of knowledge, respected role model and nurturing mentor who has constantly encouraged his staff to build confidence in their own abilities and to gain new skills so as to improve themselves to better serve their community. He has also followed his own advice to pursue lifelong learning by returning to University to earn his MSc (Information Studies) in 1997 and then go on to become a part-time Lecturer in the Division of Information Studies at Nanyang Technological University.

In addition to building and managing Singapore’s largest special library, Idris has also become one of the most respected and influential thought leaders in librarianship in Singapore. He has demonstrated a unique ability to highlight important, unconventional, occasionally provocative and often controversial issues while moderating differences and ensuring balance among those with opposing views. He has actively participated in guiding the discussion regarding where Singapore libraries should be headed while bringing meaning to librarianship in the larger context of society and how libraries and librarians can contribute to Singapore’s national goals and development.

Idris’ success in enhancing the quality of conversation about the appropriate direction of Singapore libraries is, in part, rooted in his active participation in the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) and other prominent organisations. In LAS, Idris served as a Council Member, Editor of the LAS Journal, Chairperson of the Publications Committee, Member, Joint LAS/PPM Organising Committee, Member PDS Board, and LAS Vice President. He has also been appointed to other high level boards including the National Library Board, where he played a key role in securing the rights to digitise, for public access, a collection of 1.8 million newspaper articles from the Straits Times spanning nearly two hundred years of Singapore’s social history as well as championing the National Library’s role in heritage preservation and promotion. His wisdom and insights have been tapped through his participation on the Boards of the National Archives and Street and Building Names as well as serving as a Director of the Malay Heritage Foundation.

It is our privilege and honour to present this year’s Professional Service Award to Idris bin Rashid Khan Surattee, who has not only built and managed one of Singapore’s most important and successful libraries but made a profound, impact on libraries, librarians and the community at large in Singapore. In keeping with his goal of promoting the education of librarians, Idris has requested that the monetary value associated with the Professional Service Award be donated to the LAS Scholarship fund.

Ngian Lek Choh, who has been a superb and devoted librarian, leader and administrator since 1977, has quietly, yet astutely helped to transform libraries under the National Library Board (NLB) into a world-class public library system.

After having led both Public and National Library Groups, her vision, passion, and intellect combined with a pragmatic, efficient, yet exceptionally compassionate management style was recognised and she was eventually appointed the Deputy Chief Executive of the NLB. Along the way, she oversaw the library’s computerization effort, introduced groundbreaking technology, established conveniently located libraries, helped to create the goals for the new National Library, put in place cutting-edge digital services to facilitate access to library resources, enhanced programs for the public, applied best in class management practices and expanded international outreach initiatives.

Ngian’s involvement in the Library Association of Singapore (LAS) has also been a highlight of her career. She participated in or chaired key committees and ultimately served as the LAS President from 2007 to 2009. Some of her main accomplishments at LAS have included helping to develop Singapore’s information plan, creating competency standards, developing mentoring programs, attempting to attract new librarians to the profession, organizing conferences, fostering the Special Libraries Section, implementing the Professional Development Scheme and, perhaps most important, building critical bonds between the NLB and LAS.

On the international front, Ngian is currently Vice-Chair of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL) where she helps to promote cooperation and understanding among National Libraries and is a Member of the IFLA Section for National Libraries.

In recognition of an awe-inspiring track record of commitment, innovation and enhancement of services and service standards within the National Library System and LAS, it is a privilege to honour Ngian Lek Choh with the LAS 2011 Professional Service Award.

Choy Fatt Cheong has had a remarkable 25-year library career as an author, educator, entrepreneur, consultant, international spokesperson and leader. He is a true intellectual whose innovative thinking, passionate advocacy and unparalleled service to Singapore’s library community has led to superb accomplishments.

Choy has held academic library positions at the National University of Singapore, as Chief Librarian of the Singapore Command and Staff College and SAFTI Military Institute and is the current University Librarian of Nanyang Technological University (NTU). To ensure quality library education in Singapore, he established and served as Principal Lecturer and Head of Information Studies of the pioneering diploma course in information and library studies at Temasek Polytechnic and was an Adjunct Associate Professor at NTU’s Division of Information Studies.

Choy has selflessly served the Library Association of Singapore in a vast number of leadership positions including founding editor of the Singapore Libraries Bulletin, Treasurer, longest serving President and father of the continuing education concept, the Professional Development Scheme. He has also added his talent to many Boards including those of the NLB, Council of Chief Librarians, CONSAL, and the International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries (IATUL).

We proudly honour one of Singapore’s most devoted and inspiring library leaders, Choy Fatt Cheong, the recipient of the 2010 LAS Professional Service Award.

In an illustrious career, Sylvia Yap Swee Beng has been a dynamic, passionate and engaged leader, motivator, mentor, and spokesperson for Singapore’s librarians, libraries, and library users. As the University Librarian of the National University of Singapore since 2003, Sylvia expertly engineered the transformation and upgrading of much of the University’s library system. Her ardent and dedicated advocacy of the Library Association of Singapore (LAS), culminated in her election as President of LAS (2005-2007), during which time she oversaw LAS’ 50th anniversary, initiated annual conferences, created the Awards Panel and supported the implementation of the Professional Development Scheme (PDS), where she serves as Chairperson of the PDS Board. She accomplished all of this while keeping a careful eye on the financial health of the Association. Sylvia is a gem in the library community, garnering respect and praise from all who have had the privilege to know or work with her. It is with the utmost gratitude that we celebrate and honour Sylvia’s outstanding achievements and look forward to her future contributions to Singapore, the Library Association of Singapore and Singapore’s library community.

The award was presented on 16 October 2009 during the LAS Libraries for Tomorrow Seminar and replayed during the Annual Dinner that evening.

  • R Ramachandran [Citation]
  • Manijeh Namazie [Citation]
  • Lau Siew Keng [Citation]

These three exceptional library professionals received the inaugural award from President R.S. Nathan at the Istana Reception for Librarians and Information Professionals held on 9 May 2008.