Statutory Functions of a National Library

National libraries have special responsibilities within a nation’s library system, often defined in law. These responsibilities include acquiring, preserving, and providing access to materials (in both physical and electronic formats) published in or related to the nation, and promoting its national cultural heritage through its collections.

The National Library Board (NLB) Act defines the following statutory functions of National Library Singapore:

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

Under the NLB Act, all materials published and distributed in Singapore must be deposited with the National Library. This includes:

  • 2 copies of every published material in a physical format
  • 1 copy of every published material in an electronic format

National Library, Singapore collects and preserves these materials. We also make these available as research materials into all aspects of Singapore life for present and future generations. For more information about Legal Deposit and depositing publications, visit Deposit Portal.

You can access the materials in the Legal Deposit collection in two ways:

  • The physical collection, known as PublicationSG, has been made available for reference and research since 2015. Library members can search the NLB Catalogue for PublicationSG materials and place a reservation to consult the Legal Deposit materials via the "Request for PublicationSG Materials" online form. For more information on viewing and requesting these materials, please refer to our PublicationSG website.
  • The Legal Deposit electronic collection is available for viewing at a designated computer terminal at Level 11 of the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library at the National Library building. Some electronic publications are available online via our PublicationSG website with permission from copyright owners.

As more content is being published online, the updated NLB Act was implemented in 2019 to enable National Library Singapore to archive internet content on Singapore. This ensures online content on Singapore’s history and heritage will be archived for researchers and future generations, even if the original websites have been taken down.

Online materials being archived include:

  • Publicly available content from .sg websites,
  • Content that owners have granted NLB permission to web archive

To access archived websites, you can:

  • Visit the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library (Level 11) in person to view the archived websites or
  • Visit the Web Archive Singapore portal, where some archived websites can be viewed online.

You can also help us preserve websites with Singapore content. If you wish to recommend Singapore websites not under a .sg domain for inclusion in the Web Archive Singapore collection, please refer to our Web Archive Singapore online recommendation form.


Materials found in other libraries in Singapore, such as university libraries, are kept on record in the National Union Catalogue (NUC). Users can easily do a single search online to scan the collections of all the participating libraries. The catalogue is also very useful when sharing Singapore’s library collections internationally, or for cross-border collaborations.

The NUC can be accessed via the Virtual Union Catalogue (VUC) platform.

Materials relating to Singapore’s published heritage are listed under the Singapore National Bibliography (SNB), which has been known as PublicationSG since 2015. It contains titles published in Singapore which were deposited with National Library Singapore as part of Legal Deposit and is a useful catalogue of Singapore’s published heritage.

Visit PublicationSG to learn more.