SEAM's priorities and structure is determined by its members, and its Bylaws are contained in the SEAM Prospectus, which can be revised by a vote of the representatives of SEAM member institutions. The members of SEAM also elect the SEAM Executive Committee, which sets and carries out organizational priorities. SEAM meets once a year, usually in the spring, in conjunction with the Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies. At that time SEAM discusses and votes on funding proposals for acquisitions and new projects.
Institutions and nonprofit organizations that maintain a library and whose interests coincide with SEAM are welcome to Join SEAM.
SEAM was founded in 1970 by North American librarians specializing in Southeast Asian materials. An article about SEAM's History describes the work of SEAM over the last four decades.