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Oral History Project at SMU

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The Singapore Management University (SMU) Library was tasked with documenting the early history of SMU by the chairman of its board of trustees. An oral history project to interview the pioneers involved in the formation of the university began in 2011. The project team included the Library, the Information Technology department, and a researcher/interviewer who was familiar with SMU. It was a steep learning curve for the team. As they conducted and processed the interviews, they learned about and made decisions on interviewing, recording, transcribing, storage, website design, discoverability, usability, and sustainability. The resulting oral history website presents the interviews with in an interactive way, together with a timeline of SMU’s milestones. Public users listen or read selections from the interviews. In some cases videos are available. Transcripts of the interviews are available in SMU’s institutional repository, InK, to ensure that the contents are discoverable by search engines through use of appropriate metadata. The oral history recordings contributed to the research for a scholarly book about SMU and higher education in Singapore, commissioned to coincide with SMU’s 15th anniversary in 2015. As we move forward, the Library is organising new interviews with people and groups who have made significant contributions to SMU’s history. The oral history site is at and InK is at


Singapore Management University, oral history, interviews, pioneers, start-up team, university, higher education history, Singapore


Asian Studies | Higher Education | Library and Information Science


Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance Meeting, 2-4 December