Message from Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Ms Yeoh Chee Yan

Mrs Elaine Ng
Chief Executive Officer

Our increasingly discerning visitors and growing pool of partners are sources of strength.

It has been an exciting year for National Library Board (NLB). We took the people, private and public sector partnership to new heights by pioneering community-supported libraries. We also reinforced our inclusive character by rolling out services to bridge the digital divide and serve the growing silver generation.

Our libraries developed themed collections and organised thought-provoking exhibitions. Through the Singapore Memory Project, we facilitated the formation of new national narratives while capturing the treasured memories of Singaporeans. With the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) joining the NLB family, we have bolstered our role as the custodian of the nation’s published heritage and official records.

Breaking New Ground

We proudly launched library@ chinatown, our first library supported by three key pillars: the generosity of our donors Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple and CP1 Pte Ltd, the owner of Chinatown Point Retail; the commitment of our dedicated volunteers; and guidance from a passionate group of experts in Chinese arts and culture who helped us to shape the library’s collection. library@chinatown was also our first library to experiment with a self-service model run by volunteers – visitors who have grown to love our libraries and stepped forward to serve others. For us, this was a significant step towards letting our visitors co-own the library space and take a stake in maintaining its conducive environment for everyone’s enjoyment. So far, the support from our volunteers and visitors has been encouraging. Since its opening, library@chinatown’s operating model has attracted considerable interest from other public sector organisations, international library institutions and academics.

Together with City Developments Limited, we opened “My Tree House”, the world’s first green library for kids. This unique library is driven by green principles – from its design to infrastructure, use of sustainable and recyclable materials, collection, programming, and services. We hope this green library will cultivate children’s interest in conservation and nurture them to be environmentally-conscious adults.

We also look forward to the upcoming library@orchard. This new library will set a new standard in library development steered by a Design Thinking framework. Working in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic, we engaged visitors in envisioning the spaces and services of this library. We hope this collaborative process gives the public a stronger sense of ownership of this new library space, just as we believe the process has brought us closer to our library users.

We launched two major initiatives to bridge the digital divide in our community and make information more accessible. We started an eDevice loan service at the Bedok and Bukit Merah Public Libraries with generous donations from corporations. Library users who do not have the means to own eDevices can now borrow these devices to enjoy our library’s digital resources, as well as access a wealth of information online. We have also introduced Silver Infocomm Hotspots at our libraries for our senior visitors to enjoy an hour of free internet access each day.

Investing in our Young

We continue to invest in our young through the kidsREAD and Read@ School programmes. The programmes reach out to students from pre-schools to secondary schools. To nurture and sustain the habit of reading among children between four and eight years old, we extended the kidsREAD programme from one year to five years. We have also paired more than 16 primary school kidsREAD clubs with volunteers from secondary schools. Over 17,800 children have benefitted from kidsREAD.

Read@School is our new initiative that employs a range of tailored activities to encourage reading among primary and secondary school students. We are heartened by the warm response, with more than 150 schools joining this programme.

We also welcomed teen readers Into the Young Read Advisory Panel to select books for children between 7 and 14 years, as our annual Read Campaign embraces younger readers. We deeply appreciate the dedication of our teenage reading ambassadors.

We also introduced the Asian Children’s Literature Collection at the Woodlands Regional Library for our young visitors to enjoy and appreciate a treasure trove of Asian fairy tales, folklores and fables.

Keeping Memories Alive

We pushed our creative boundaries with three illuminating exhibitions. Working in partnership with the Singapore Heritage Society, we organised the Raffles Letters: Intrigues Behind the Founding of Singapore exhibition, which offered our visitors a glimpse into a lesser-known side of Singapore’s founding. The Money by Mail to China: Dreams and Struggles of Early Migrants exhibition, gave a poignant portrayal of the trials, tribulations and aspirations of Chinese immigrants between the late 1800s and the 1970s through artefacts and letters. Visitors also enjoyed the Campaign City: Life in Posters exhibition, which featured a refreshing display of personal reinterpretations of classic 1980s campaign posters by 50 artists.

In addition, NLB paid tribute to two Singaporean literary pioneers, Edwin Thumboo and Muhammad Ariff Ahmad, through two special exhibitions.

As part of the Singapore Memory Project, we journeyed through Singapore’s heartlands to harvest the rich memories of Singaporeans from all walks of life. At the memory collection drives held in partnership with community and grassroots organisations, Singaporeans young and old came forward to share their fond memories of playgrounds, food, school days and changing neighbourhoods. These stories will help us develop new narratives of Singapore’s past through eBooks and short films.

With the NAS coming under our fold, archives, oral histories and Singapore-related library materials have all been consolidated under one roof. This has significantly increased our capacity to preserve Singapore’s documentary heritage and collective memory for future generations.

Looking Ahead

We see healthy growth in our library loans. Our loans for books and audiovisual materials grew from about 37 million to 37.7 million. eBook usage increased from about 4.9 million to 8.2 million. This reflects a widening interest in reading within our community. The rise in eBook usage also indicates that we are reaching out to more users who are digitally-inclined. We will be expanding our eBook collection to meet this growing need.

We are honoured to host two international conferences in August 2013: the Second International Summit of the Book and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) World Library and Information Congress 2013. It is with pride that we warmly welcome delegates from all over the world to Singapore. And we look forward to the discussions among thought-leaders gathered in Singapore, which will chart the path ahead for libraries navigating the changing information landscape.

We are looking at a dynamic future full of opportunities. Our challenge is to perpetually innovate and create value for our community. This is only possible with the commitment and tireless efforts of our staff. We will continue to attract, train and retain people with the talent, gumption and passion to take the organisation forward.

Our increasingly discerning visitors and growing pool of partners are sources of strength. We can draw on their talents and resources to co-create library spaces, technology platforms and programmes to enrich the overall library experience. We will also need to expand our heart-share and encourage more volunteers to co-own our library spaces. Together, we will continue to build a network of much-loved learning and social spaces for all Singaporeans.

  • Ms Yeoh Chee Yan

  • Mrs Elaine Ng
    Chief Executive Officer