via Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 2020: I had posted about a petition highlighting the plan to close the Mainland Southeast Asian Collection of the National Library of Australia. Sadly, it has come to pass. This is a real shame. When I was based in Canberra, I availed myself to the excellent Southeast Asian collections of the National Library of Australia, and this was one of the best collections in the Southern Hemisphere. There is another petition going on now to reinstate the collections, if you can, please sign it here.
The current crisis in relations with China has exposed the extreme delicacy and importance of Australia’s relationship with its Asian neighbours. One lesson of this crisis, highlighted by commentators across the political spectrum, is that Australia must prevent over-dependence on China by fostering closer relations with other regional neighbours, including Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asian nations.
The National Library of Australia has chosen this moment to announce that it will cease collecting material on Japan, Korea and all of mainland Southeast Asia, retaining only some reduced acquisition of information on China, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Seventy years of commitment to collecting on the region have made the national library one of the world’s greatest resources of information on Asia. This national treasure will now be left to wither.