Home to local history

Home to local history

SINGAPORE - You step out of a cargo lift into a very cold room and, for one disorientating moment, find your feet stuck to the floor.

A sticky mat removes and traps unwanted dirt and dust from your sandals before you can enter the sterile, temperaturecontrolled environment of the audiovisual repository at the National Archives of Singapore.

The archives, housed in a five-storey building at 1 Canning Rise, has four such repositories where millions of original photographs, recordings, building plans, government documents and other records spanning 200 years of Singapore history are locked away and preserved for posterity.

Ms Noor Fadilah Yusof, the 26-year-old registrar of archives services, is giving you an exclusive peek into the audiovisual repository, where thousands of audiovisual and sound recordings from the recent past are stored.

The shelves are built on tracks that slide back and forth to save space. Her dainty hands, encased in a pair of white, lint-free cotton gloves, take down one of the video tapes in its powder-blue, metal casing.

The label tells you it is footage from the former Singapore Broadcasting Corporation of the national anthem, used by the various television channels back in the 1980s. Other reels contain parliamentary proceedings, news bulletins and drama serials.

Other shelves hold 1960s black-and-white filmlets produced by the former Ministry of Culture to drum up awareness of everything from tourism to the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire.

There are also educational videos in the four official languages produced by the former Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore, once shown on flickering projectors in schools.

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