Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Singapore Memories – Documenting Our Stories Together initiative about?

The NLB welcomes your help to enrich Singapore’s collective documentary and published heritage by contributing to our collection of materials about Singapore and her people. Besides contributing fresh materials, we also have records that have not yet been adequately described to be included in our online catalogue. We welcome your help to make these records more accessible by describing, transcribing, translating, and transliterating the materials. That in turn could improve search results for others looking for such material.


How can I contribute or help improve NLB’s collection?

You can login to the platform using NLB’s myLibrary username or social login (i.e. Facebook, Google or Windows). Don't have a myLibrary account? Apply now!




What is our collecting scope for contributions?

We are interested in materials which cover the nation’s documentary heritage and captures the diverse experiences of living in Singapore. Materials must be from Singapore for post-1965 items and for materials from Malaya, before 1965. These could include documents such as photographs and ephemera; films and videos captured by private individuals; audio recordings of local soundscapes; translated works, works by any authors or publishers, in all languages, at any audience levels and editions. Works published in Singapore are also collected as part of our nation’s publishing history. 

We also actively acquire records that serve as the social memory of our people. This memory allows current and future generations of Singaporeans to understand our different cultures, explore our common heritage and appreciate who we are and how we became a nation.



At the same time, we are also keen to collect materials on Singapore’s current social and cultural landscape for future generations to have access to a broad range of materials that reflect the current culture and society. NLB’s new Contemporary Collecting initiative emphasises the importance of collecting not only the distant past but also the nearer past, including online material. This is with a view that much of our contemporary collective experience is lived online and digitally.

Examples include materials that tell us about our living experiences in present Singapore:


To learn more about our collections, do check out the National Archives of Singapore and the National Library Singapore websites.


Will all my contributed items be preserved in NLB’s collections?

By contributing based on the collecting scope, you agree that NLB can archive all or a selection of the Digital Works as part of the NLB’s permanent collections if so decided by NLB. (Note:  Digital Works not archived may not be retained by NLB so you should keep your own copy as needed by you.) 


What are the terms that apply to my contributions (excluding Social Media Archives)?

I am the copyright owner of the digital item(s) I am contributing.

Terms that apply to your contributions

1        These terms (Terms) apply to your contributions of digital items (Digital Works) to the National Library Board (NLB).  

2        You confirm that you are at least 18 years old or have the permission of your parent or guardian to provide your contributions.  (Note: Parents or guardians allowing your child to provide a contribution shall be subject to the Terms.)  

3        If you are acting on behalf of an organisation or a firm, you confirm that you have the authority to act on behalf of the organisation or firm and that the organisation or firm agrees to the Terms.   (Note: In such cases, “you” and “your” shall be read as a reference to the organisation or firm.)

4        You confirm that, to the best of your knowledge and belief, the Digital Works do not contain anything that is defamatory or offensive or otherwise illegal.  

5        You confirm that where you are the creator or producer of the Digital Works, you have considered the need to protect personal data (such as the image and video or audio recording that can identify a person) and, where necessary, have sought permission from any persons appearing in the Digital Works.  There are exceptions to the need to seek permission. These are for you to determine but an example would be where the person(s) concerned are at an event or location that is open to the public without any restrictions.  

6        You confirm that, to the best of your knowledge and belief, you own all the copyright to the Digital Works and the Digital Works do not infringe copyright owned by others. Copyright ownership is for you to determine but in general, you own the copyright if you or your employee created the Digital Works; or if there is a contract that says that the copyright is owned by you or given to you. 

7        You continue to retain copyright ownership to the Digital Works and will be acknowledged as the contributor of the Digital Works. NLB does not impose any restrictions on your own use of the Digital Works. 

8        You agree that NLB can archive all or a selection of the Digital Works as part of the NLB’s permanent collections if so decided by NLB.  NLB may also decide not to archive some or any of it.  (Note:  Digital Works not archived may not be retained by NLB so you should keep your own copy as needed by you.) 

 9        You agree that NLB can use the Digital Works and allow others to use the Digital Works for any purposes including giving access (including through digital file sharing), making copies, editing, adapting, transforming, and building on the Digital Works if the use is non-commercial in nature.  Use that is “non-commercial" means uses that are not primarily intended for or directed towards commercial advantage or monetary compensation.   For the avoidance of doubt, for the purposes of NLB, any use in a book or e-book published solely by NLB shall be considered non-commercial even if the book or e-book is made available for purchase, as NLB’s primary intent shall be deemed to be to promote learning and to defray costs and not to make a profit.  


How can I contribute audiovisual records to your collection?

Please send us more information through Contact Us and we will be in touch.


I would like to contribute physical materials to your collection. How can I do so?

You may wish to convert your physical materials into a digital format first by scanning and then contributing the digital format via the Singapore Memories: Documenting Our Stories Together portal.  If you are keen to donate physical materials, please find out more at Donate to our Collections.




How should I describe these images?

Start by submitting what you know. Part of the beauty of crowdsourcing is that even if you do not know something, someone else might. Perhaps you know the location of the image and someone else will know who the person in the photo is, or the year it was taken. 

Description about the image should contain factual information (such as when, where, who, what). You can also imagine what words you would use if you were searching for this image and put these in your description. If you do not have any knowledge about our Singapore collections, you can find out more at Archives Online and the National Library Online.




What we are looking for: ‘Lim Nang Seng (left) with his Merlion sculpture’

What we are not looking for: ‘Men with a statue’

The former contains useful factual information that enhances historical knowledge pertaining to the image; the latter has no factual information and does not help someone who may be looking for this image. 


What are the guidelines to transcribe the documents?

  1. Save your work regularly!
  2. Transcribe the document in the order in which you would read it. 
  3. What is important are the words on the page that help make the document searchable. Do not worry about formatting, like underlined words, line breaks and so on (even though line breaks may help organise your thought process).
  4. Use square brackets for anything that you may not be sure about.  If there is anything you want to note down which is not a word, such as the presence of a picture, you can write your notes in square brackets like [picture of animal]. Or you can put it in like this [read or reed?] if you want to highlight a word that you are unsure of. You do not have to correct spelling and grammar or expand any abbreviations. Do note however that hyphens need to be removed from hyphenated words so that the word can be searched. 
  5. If something is puzzling you – take a break or try something else. Someone else can work on it! Reading handwriting, for example, also gets easier with practice. 
  6. You are encouraged to check through your work before “Submit for review” to ensure accuracy. Please do not worry if you realise you have made a mistake after submission. This is a public-driven project, and we understand that unintended errors may be inevitable. 


What is the difference between “Save As In-Progress” and “Submit for Review” for transcriptions?

Transcribing may take time over several sessions, so the “Save As In-Progress” button lets you save your work. After you have saved and left the page, you or anyone else can come back later to continue transcribing the page.

You should only click the “Submit for Review” button when all the text on the page have been transcribed (barring perhaps a few words that may be difficult to decipher). Clicking on “Submit for Review” temporarily closes the page to any further contributions until a NLB staff has reviewed the page. If the transcription is completed, the page will be permanently closed. If there are still parts of the page pending transcription, the page will be made editable again for public contributions.   


Are the background information or dates accurate?

The information that we have is dependent on the extent of accuracy provided by the record sources.


I have an interest in a particular collection and keen to improve the discoverability of its materials through improve tasks such as description, transcription, etc. However, I do not see this collection as part of the offerings under your available tasks. Can you provide with such an opportunity?

Selection of tasks is subject to suitability and availability of materials, among many other factors for consideration. If you do not see what you are looking for under a particular task, feel free to browse through the other tasks under Improve, or check out Contribute as there may be other areas that may suit your interest and expertise!

You could also check out this portal periodically to see if there is new content uploaded which may suit your interest areas.


What will happen to the tasks that I have submitted under Improve?

Submitted tasks will be reviewed by NLB periodically and made accessible on the Archives Online database and the National Library Online when appropriate. NLB reserves the right to select, modify or remove any content based on suitability and accuracy. 


What resources can I refer to help me in describing/improving the collection?

The Archives Online database and the National Library Online can offer more clues about the records. For example, if you know the name of the event but are unsure which year it was in, try searching the NewspaperSG database to see which year it took place.


Can my work to help improve access to your collections be registered as volunteer hours for school and/or corporate projects?

We do not track the number of hours of your participation and are unable to create a report to document volunteer hours. We regret that we are also unable to sign off on your hours or act as a supervisor for your participation. 

As each record differs in length and complexity, there is no formulae to calculate the pages transcribed or records translated to a quantity of hours. However, you could keep track of your own hours, include the URLs or screenshots of each record you worked on during this time as a submission to your school or organisation.

For those who are seeking volunteering opportunities with contributions credited as volunteering hours, please visit the NLB volunteers portal and register as a NLB volunteer to sign up for other volunteering opportunities, or write to 




What are Themes?

These are thematic calls based on subjects or topics for contributions to help enrich the national collection. 




How do I contact you if I have questions or feedback?

Please get in touch through our Contact Us form if you have any comments about Singapore Memories – Documenting Our Stories Together initiative.