I have used the National Library’s microfilm collection a few times. They have issues going back to to the beginning of the Straits Times.
If you are searching for an article with microfilm, you have to know roughly when the article was published. The microfilms have a number of issues on each reel. You load it onto a special projector, then start scrolling through the film to find what you are looking for.
It’s manual and tedious – though strangely enjoyable, like a treasure hunt – but if you have absolutely no idea when an certain article was published, then you’re stuck. At very least, you need to know the month and the year.
So, I want to thank the National Library Board for coming up with http://newspapers.nl.sg/. (Thanks, Ai Lin, for pointing this out!)
NLB has scanned its Straits Times microfilms, so now the text is searchable. No more wading through rolls of microfilm. And you can discover other articles related to your search which you might not have been aware of.
If you search from home, you get article titles and short abstracts. The microfilm reel number is listed too.
You can only access full text and get prints if you’re at the library using one of their multimedia terminals. Or, since you now know the microfilm number, you can zoom in to the article faster. At least you know which reel it’s on! You still have to scroll through the film to get to a particular article. No shortcuts there.
It’s an amazing resource!
Will have to try “Malay Regiment” and “Battle of Pasir Panjang”. Already saw some interesting abstracts…