Archives accessibility remains an issue

The National Archives of Singapore.
The National Archives of Singapore. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A recent Sunday Times editorial encouraged Singaporeans to explore their country's history more, in the light of the bicentennial celebrations and the refurbishment of the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) (Rich repository of collective memories, April 14).

However, I feel that accessibility to the archives remains an issue, despite digitisation efforts.

Most audio-visual and sound recordings in the Archives Online portal can be accessed only in situ, be it at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library or at the NAS building itself. At best, only a partial preview is available from home, for some resources.

It is inconvenient to have to travel to the city just to access relevant materials, and this runs contrary to "making its treasures more accessible for the interested layman".

It would be better if people are able to access them from the comfort of their own homes.

Similarly, for the NewspaperSG resource under the National Library Board, one can access digital copies of only newspapers dating before 1990.

A person who wants to find out more about events after 1990 through the newspapers will need to physically visit a public library, which is less convenient than being able to access digital copies from home.

If there are copyright issues at stake, I urge the relevant authorities to figure things out and not let such legalities hinder accessibility and public interest in our local history.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2019, with the headline 'Archives accessibility remains an issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe