Message from Chairman & Chief Executive

It has been three years since we conceived the Library 2010 (L2010) vision. Since then, the National Library Board (NLB) has been working on various programmes envisaged under the vision.

This continued through Financial Year 2007/2008. We were particularly interested in assessing our progress of L2010 and took stock of what was achieved over the year and were glad to find that we were largely on track to achieving our goals.

One of the areas we deemed important was to continue educating the public about the different functions of the National Library and the network of Public Libraries. More effort was put into creating the public awareness that NLB not only looks after the public libraries in Singapore, but that we are also part of a larger international community of National Libraries.

We strived to promote and educate the public and stakeholders on our statutory functions such as legal deposit, heritage preservation and collaborative reference. From a heritage standpoint, we continued to build our local content and are happy to say that we have been quite successful in encouraging donations of printed heritage to the National Library. We organised a number of international conferences, such as the ‘International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions Interlending & Document Supply Conference’ and the ‘Dublin Core 2007 International Conference’. This has enabled us to be in the thick of some of the leading developments in the area of Library 2.0 on technical standards development and at the leading edge of digital library issues.

Our Public Libraries have stepped up efforts to address new challenges for more variegated patron segments. Recognising that Singapore’s population is increasingly becoming both older and better educated, our outreach programmes to the seniors group have taken on a different spin to tap on their life experiences and skills set. One such outreach programme is ‘Letters from Grandma and Grandpa’ where grandparents were invited to present their thoughts and the guiding principles by which they lead their lives in the form of letters to the future generations. Other than basic shelving and shelf-reading tasks, we have started to involve our senior volunteers in event support and library user management.

Aside from the seniors, our library patrons as a whole have become more sophisticated. The Internet revolution and ever-changing user profiles have resulted in the need for NLB to practise narrowcasting. We have to evolve from being a mass service provider to a provider of targeted programmes and collections that cater to specific needs of patrons with a wider range of interests and preferences.

In addition, because of urban redevelopment, many old estates in Singapore have been or are being redeveloped. These redeveloped estates generally result in the younger population moving into these estates which in turn leads to changing expectations of our libraries in those areas. Our staff at the respective libraries will continue to be cognizant of the changing user profiles and manage the collection development and programmes to better meet the differing demands of our patrons.

There were several notable accomplishments and milestones that we achieved over the year. One of our objectives is to actively engage the business sector. We sought to extend our influence beyond the traditional domains of books and reading – to become a competitive, real-time information provider. To this end, the launch of EnterpriseOne Business Information Services (EBIS), a multi-agency initiative, was a significant development for us. With the launch of an EBIS Centre at the National Library Building, we hope people will begin to realise that NLB can play a crucial role in providing information for a wide range of business needs.

Our collaborations with diverse partners allow us to perform a role beyond what is traditionally expected of a library. By extending social spaces both physically at our libraries (via events and programmes) and virtually (via blogs), we are determined to stay relevant to the communities where we operate. By taking events and programmes beyond the confines of a library, we have encouraged children from the families of lower income groups to read as part of our successful kidsREAD programme. We have also reached out to different target groups such as the hospitality industry and the Public Service, to participate in book clubs and reading discussions held in conjunction with our annual READ! Singapore programme.

Looking forward, NLB will be more innovative and distinct in our service delivery. We have revived and modernised the mobile library service to serve the underserved groups. These include users at children’s homes, special needs schools and primary schools to promote reading and lifelong learning. The personified mobile library bus, Molly, fitted with our e-kiosk and borrowing station, will be making its rounds to the various institutions and organisations, to allow a realistic sample of the library experience. We hope that in time to come, these groups will be encouraged to visit our well-distributed network of public libraries.

With the review of NLB’s brand architecture and identity in the coming year, we will also be revamping our web presence by having separate websites for corporate NLB, the National Library and the Public Libraries to create awareness of the differentiation and functions of both. The National Library site will be more academic and research-oriented, while the Public Library site will be more lively and interactive.

For all of our achievements over the year, and those to come, we would like to thank the Board Members and staff of NLB for their dedication, passion, creativity and hard work. Our team has shown both innovation, as well as practicality to overcome issues and provide solutions. We are also grateful to our patrons and valued partners for their generous support towards NLB. We will continue to forge ahead in our journey towards L2010 and are confident that NLB will continue to fulfill its mission to build a knowledgeable and engaged society, and be a beacon of lifelong learning for all Singaporeans.

Ms Lim Soo Hoon Dr N Varaprasad
Chairman Chief Executive