The Arts Resource Centre, 1983 - 1997

by Wong, Heng


The Arts Resource Centre (ARC) was officially opened by Major Fong Sip Chee, Minister of State for Culture on 10 January 1983 at the Reference Services Division of the National Library at 91 Stamford Road. The ARC marked the beginning of a new service by the National Library where non-book materials formed a major part of the collection. It was set up to serve the needs of researchers and the public interested in the fine arts.

A grant of $100,00 from the Singapore Cultural Foundation in September 1981 served as seed money for the Arts Resource Centre (ARC). The money was to be expended on AV equipment, computer software and furniture. Two years later, on 10 January 1983, the ARC was officially opened by Major Fong Sip Chee, Minister of State for Culture, at the Reference Services Division of the National Library at 91 Stamford Road. The Singapore Cultural Foundation added $30,000 to meet the recurrent costs for the first year of operation with another $15,000 given in January 1984 for the second year of operation.

In early 1984, the Japanese Cultural Foundation gave a grant of $400,000 to upgrade the ARC. It provided the funds to purchase software, Japanese audio-visual equipment and furniture. The ARC floor space was extended from occupying a floor area of about 175 sq m to 300 sq m.

The service proved popular with the public and especially students of the fine arts. During the first three months of operation nearly 2,000 audio-visual items were requested for. Regular users of the service were members of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, concert goers, art students and lecturers in schools, vocational institutions and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. The general public usually came to consult back issues of local newspapers on microfilm and to occasionally view documentaries on science, civilisation or travel.

From 1993 to 1997, the ARC audio-visual collection was greatly improved in quality and quantity when funds were made available under the National Library's Five-Year Audio-Visual Service Project. Under this Project, the Singapore Totalisator Board donated $2, 952,500, matched by an equivalent amount from the government, most of which was used to purchase software.

On the 1 May 1997, the National Library was closed for major renovation. When it reopened on the 19 January 1998, the Arts Resources Centre (ARC) no longer existed as an entity. The services that had been established in audio-visual and arts continued to expand, however. The ARC collection was placed with the Arts Collection housed in the General Reference Centre on the third level and the Multimedia Centre for accessing the audio-visual collection and the internet, on the second level. In 2001, the
Library@Esplanade, focusing on the arts, was opened and in 2003, the Multimedia Centre at the National Reference Library was closed. By this time, several branch libraries already had lending services for its multimedia materials including DVDs, videos and CD-ROMs.

The ARC formed part of the National Reference Library extending to area of 300 sq m demarcated to house the audio-visual equipment and furniture. The
Audio-Visual services were an integral part of the ARC. At least 30 specially designed carrel stations were placed in four rows, forming an area for audio-visual viewing or listening in the Reference Library.

Books and periodicals on the fine arts were selected, purchased and placed on open shelves as a separate collection in the Reference Library, labelled "Fine Arts". Audio-visual materials on the fine arts were also purchased. Films, video-cassettes, slides, audio cassette, compact discs and records on fine arts and art reproductions were bought. Microfilms of local newspapers and microfiches on fine arts were made available.

Wong Heng

Ng, G. L. (1982). Planning for the development of audiovisual services at the National Library of Singapore. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RCLOS 025.177 NG )

Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people (p. 153). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 027. 5957 SEE)

Tan, L. W. (1985). Audiovisual services at the National Library of Singapore: current situations and recommendations for future developments. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RCLOS 025.177 TAN)

National Library Board. (1997). Annual Report. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 027.05957 SNLB)

National Library. (1983). Report for the period FY 83. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 027.55957 RLSAR)

National Library. (1980 -1995). Annual Report. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 027.55957 RLSAR)

$350,000 boost for the arts. (1983, April 1). The Straits Times, p. 1.

The information in this article is valid as at 1999 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings>>Libraries
Libraries--Special collections--Nonbook materials
Arts>>Art museums, collections and exhibitions
Libraries--Special collections
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Libraries--Special collections--Art works

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