Posters refer to pictorial notices often issued for the promotion and marketing of programmes, campaigns and events. They form a record of issues of interest to Singaporeans and provide an important insight into the social, cultural and political concerns of the period it was created.
The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library has over 4,000 posters either related to Singapore, or published by Singapore agencies and organisations in our collection. Additionally, the National Archives of Singapore also holds an extensive collection of over 5,000 historical posters, most of which have been fully digitised for viewing on Archives Online.
The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) is the keeper of records of national or significance. The records acquired by NAS come from both public agencies and private sources. Its collection ranges from government files, private memoirs, historical maps and photographs to oral history interviews and audio-visual materials.
Archives Online allows users to seamlessly search information across NAS’ collection databases and view selected posters, maps and plans, listen to oral history interview samplers and watch snippets of audio-visual recordings online.
Navigating Archives Online
Using the search bar at the centre of the Archives Online homepage, you can perform a simple keyword search and limit the results to posters, or alternatively, to only search for posters, click on the Posters category below.
Doing so will direct you the Posters database. You may further narrow your search by date. In the following example, let’s look for posters of the Singapore Kindness Movement by using the keyword ‘kindness’.
Below, our search has retrieved 41 poster results, most of which appear to have been digitised. Clicking on either the image preview or record title will direct you to the item description page.
Information on the poster record can be found here, such as covering date, digital preview (if applicable) and accession number.
Related results from the Archives Online and the National Library collection will also be displayed on the right hand corner of the page.
Alternatively, users may choose to search for posters from Singapore is via the NLB OneSearch website. This method will retrieve records from NLB’s collection, including digitised posters from the National Archives of Singapore, where digital previews are available and can be accessed anywhere from most internet-enabled devices.
Step 1: On the OneSearch homepage, click on Advanced Search. This is found at the bottom right corner of the search bar.
Step 2: From here, conduct a keyword search and filter by images. You may also choose to filter by creator. This method is best if you know the exact title or content of the poster.
For this example, we search for posters from the National Productivity Board using the keywords, ‘national productivity’ under creator. When complete, click Search.
Step 3: On the search results page, look to the left side of the screen and click on the Type tab. Click on ‘Poster’ to show only posters in the search results.
Sometimes, posters might be categorised as ‘Drawings’ in Onesearch, as illustrated in the example below.
NLB Catalogue entry
If the search result redirects you to an NLB Catalogue entry, follow the same steps in Method 1 of this guide to retrieve the record.
Step 4: Image retrieval. In the example below, our search has turned up a few digital previews. Let’s take a closer look at two of our search results.
The first result has directed us to BookSG, an online collection of digitised books and printed materials, including rare and historical imprints related to Singapore and Southeast Asia from the National Library and its partner institutions.
It turns out our poster is extracted from a book, Our Story: 15 years of NPB. By clicking on the title, users will to be directed to the NLB catalogue where the book’s Call Number will be available. Users can consult the actual book at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.
The second result directs to Archives Online, where the poster has been digitised for viewing online. As covered in the Archives Online section of this guide, related results can also be found on the right hand corner.
Locating posters on the NLB Catalogue
Currently, most posters in the library’s collection do not have a digital preview and must be viewed on-site. To locate these records, use the Advanced Search function on the NLB Catalogue to find the physical copies available on Level 11 of the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library.
Step 1: Click on the Advanced Search on the NLB Catalogue homepage. This is found on the bottom right corner of the search bar.
Step 2: Use the keyword ‘Singapore’ under the Anywhere filter to limit our results to Singapore. Under Material Type, scroll down and select Poster.
From here, click Search to pull up the National Library’s entire collection of posters. If you know the title or subject of the poster you are looking for, you can choose to narrow down your search by Title or Author. You may also choose to narrow the selection by year.
Step 3: You will then be directed to this search results page. Click on the result to view the item description.
Step 4: Select View Availability to retrieve the item’s Call Number. This will be found on the top right hand corner of your screen.
Once done, please approach the Counter on Level 11 of the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library with the relevant Title and Call Number to retrieve the records for viewing.
This concludes our step-by-step guide. Should you run into any issues, please approach our library staff for further assistance.