The National Library (NL) decided to engage UNESCO’s help in microfilming, as the resources for microfilming were insufficient and equipment was inadequate and obsolete. NL alone had a backlog of 2 million pages in 1962 .
UNESCO’s Mobile Microfilming Unit was in hot demand all over the world, and the specialist A. Baillie did not arrive in Singapore until 1965. Baillie helped to microfilm a total of 151 rolls of films during his 11-month stint in Singapore .
In the late 1950s, National Library (NL) started sending its books and its newspaper collections to external vendors to microfilm, as a way of preserving them. The programme made good progress. Within five years, approximately one-third of the newspaper collection was already filmed .
As microfilming became the main method for preservation of printed materials, the Joint Liaison Council of the Library Association of Singapore (PPS) and Library Association of Malaysia (PPM) announced that a Sub-Committee on Microfilming Projects would be set up to look into the question of microfilm resources . This sub-committee was later renamed Sub-Committee on Microforms (SCOM) .
Researchers from USA proposed setting up a Southeast Asian Microform project (SEAM) . It was hoped that SEAM could help ease the problem of books on Southeast Asia being unavailable for researchers. However, countries in Southeast Asia were apprehensive about SEAM, fearing that it might do more harm than good . Nonetheless, PPS and PPM decided that SCOM should support the establishment of SEAM .
The National Library (NL) took over the Microfilming Unit from the Department of Survey from 1 January 1965. However, the Unit was still located at the Department of Survey. Hence in September 1965, Hedwig Anuar, Director of NL, wrote to the Permanent Secretary of Culture proposing to move the Unit to NL at Stamford Road . This proposal did not materialise until October 1966 when NL was asked to vacate the Department of Survey’s office urgently . That was when renovation work for the Microfilm Unit at NL started.
As microfilming became the norm for libraries and archives worldwide, a member of the Sub-Committee on Microforms (SCOM) wrote articles describing the state of microfilming in Southeast Asian countries and the challenges faced .
SCOM and Southeast Asian Microform (SEAM) drew up draft guidelines for National and International Cooperation in Microfilming at the Southeast Asia Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (SARBICA) Meeting in Manila on May 1971 .
Meanwhile, in Singapore, the National Library kept pushing to microfilm government records, writing to other agencies to ask for records that were not in its possession. For example, it wrote to the Supreme Court, asking if it could borrow some of the older law reports to microfilm .