Who We Are

Statutory Functions

The National Library of Singapore
Legal Deposit
Web Archiving
The Singapore National Bibliography (SNB) : PublicationSG
National Union Catalogue (NUC)

The role and functions played by National Libraries, while similar, are not homogeneous and are largely governed by a number of factors such as the literary and published heritage and the social and economic conditions of the country.

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) is the international body representing the interests of the library and the information profession. It has defined national libraries as follow:

National libraries have special responsibilities, often defined in law, within a nation's library and information system. These responsibilities vary from country to country but are likely to include:

  • the collection via legal deposit of the national imprint (both print and electronic) and its cataloguing and preservation
  • the provision of central services (e.g., reference, bibliography, preservation, lending) to users both directly and through other library and information centres
  • the preservation and promotion of the national cultural heritage

The National Library of Singapore

There are four main statutory functions under the purview of the National Library:

  • Legal Deposit
  • Web Archiving
  • National Bibliographic Services
  • National Union Catalogue

Through these statutory functions, the National Library is able to acquire, preserve, organise and provide access to materials related to Singapore including its literary and cultural heritage.

Legal Deposit

Under section 10 of the NLB Act, two copies of every library material published in Singapore in a print or otherwise physical form have to be deposited with the National Library. From 31 January 2019, the obligation to deposit library materials published in Singapore was extended to include those in the electronic form. One copy of every library material published in Singapore in the electronic form has to be deposited with the National Library. For more information about Legal Deposit and depositing of publications, please visit Deposit Portal.

As all library materials published in all formats by Singapore producers and publishers can be collected and preserved through Legal Deposit, the National Library has an important role to safeguard the documentary heritage and intellectual memory of Singapore. Publications received under legal deposit are made available as source materials for research, especially into all aspects of Singapore life, culture, history, education, scientific study and other activities by present and future generations.

The Legal Deposit physical collection is available for reference and research via the PublicationSG online catalogue since November 2015. Library members can place a reservation to consult the Legal Deposit materials in person at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. Library members may also submit their requests online via the "Request for PublicationSG Materials" form.

The Legal Deposit electronic collection is available for reference and research at a designated computer terminal in the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library at Level 11 of the National Library Building. Some electronic publications are available online via BookSG portal with the permission from copyright owners.

Web Archiving

Web Archiving is a new statutory function of the National Library from 31 January 2019. Under subsection 7(2)(fa) of the NLB Act, the National Library is empowered to make copies of any online materials made available on a Singapore website without requiring written consent from the website owners or producers.

Web archiving is necessary as more and more content is being published online. In addition, unlike traditional printed books and magazines, content on a website can be updated anytime and easily lost forever. Web archiving ensures that online content on Singapore’s history and heritage are preserved for knowledge and research and are available for generations to come even when the original websites have changed or no longer exist.

The National Library will archive publicly available content from .sg websites at least once a year, while selected websites will be archived more frequently during significant events. No action is required from the website owner.

Archived websites will be available for reference and research at a designated computer terminal in the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library at Level 11 of the National Library Building. Some archived websites are available online via the Web Archive Singapore portal with the permission from copyright owners.

The Singapore National Bibliography (SNB): PublicationSG

The Singapore National Bibliography (SNB) started in 1969 as a select bibliography. In 2015, it was upgraded to PublicationSG, which contains all titles published and deposited by publishers in Singapore with the National Library. 

PublicationSG is a useful resource for members of the public who are interested in Singapore’s published heritage. The objectives of the catalogue are:

  • to serve as a long-term record of materials published in Singapore and deposited with NLB
  • to aid libraries in the selection and acquisition of new materials for collection development 
  • to provide access by serving as reference source for librarians, researchers and bibliographers

National Union Catalogue (NUC)

The National Union Catalogue (NUC) is a comprehensive record of the collective holdings of the libraries of Singapore and is a useful tool for resource-sharing locally and internationally. The National Library plays a leadership role as it collaborates with contributing members to consolidate and connect the collections and resources of Singapore held by other libraries and information centres. NUC is accessible online via the Virtual Union Catalogue (VUC) platform. VUC allows users to do a single search across all catalogues of the participating libraries, online, without having to maintain a centralized catalogue. Real time searches will be conducted in various catalogues using the Z39.50 protocol with the results harvested and pooled.

Access VUC here.


IFLA National Libraries Section http://www.ifla.org/national-libraries

Last Updated On 25 Nov 2021