Heng Kee: In 2017, we took another big step towards fulfilling our vision to create readers for life, learning communities and a knowledgeable nation.
Elaine: We had many key happenings, including the reopening of four libraries in Bukit Panjang, Tampines, Bedok and Yishun. These next-generation libraries have become social spaces for people of all ages to read, learn, and most importantly, to connect with one another.
Heng Kee: The role of libraries today goes beyond providing books. As Singapore gears up for the future economy, it is also important that we help people keep abreast of global trends and the developments in a fast-growing world.
Elaine: To connect people to emerging Asian economies, we launched the Eye on Asia resource centre. This will particularly benefit younger people who are interested in exploring opportunities in the region.
Technology has opened up a new world of opportunities for many industries, and certainly the libraries. What has NLB been doing on this front?
Heng Kee: With technology and digital content, there is now a lot more that we can do to constantly engage people to read and learn. We have expanded our digital offerings so that people can connect with the library 24/7, and tap on our resources anytime, anywhere.
Elaine: Some of our key services include the enhanced NLB Mobile app and the Digital Business Library, which are targeted at adults. With these, our library members can access content on the go. They can read, learn and upskill themselves wherever they are and whenever it is convenient for them. These efforts to promote reading and learning are at the heart of what we do. Going into the second year of our National Reading Movement, it was really all about getting people to “Read More, Read Widely and Read Together”.
The role of libraries today goes beyond providing books. As Singapore gears up for the future economy, it is also important that we help people keep abreast of global trends and the developments in a fast-growing world.
We want to make our collections more accessible and connect people to Singapore’s history and heritage.
NLB also played a key role in preserving and sharing Singapore’s history and heritage. Can you tell us more?
Elaine: We shared history and heritage about our nation through collections like Sounds of Yesteryear, which includes rare audio recordings. Other programmes like the Tales of the Malay World exhibition also featured rare manuscripts and early books in traditional Malay literature. We are working with the communities – the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian Community Oral History Committees, for example – to collect more of such precious historical memories.
Heng Kee: This is where we are also tapping on technology to make valuable resources and stories easily accessible to the public. A major undertaking was digitising our archival materials, including the Sounds of Yesteryear collection, and making them available on our Archives Online website. This brings the archives and its collections closer to the public.
Elaine: Another interesting project we have started is to recreate some of our exhibitions, such as From the Stacks and Script & Stage, in digital format. With these virtual exhibitions, people can take a digital tour and view the displayed artefacts from their home. Through these efforts, we want to make our collections more accessible and connect people to Singapore’s history and heritage.
So, what's next for NLB?
Elaine: We have exciting initiatives coming up, especially as we mark the 50th anniversary of the National Archives of Singapore. We are also playing an active role in promoting lifelong learning, by working with partners to deliver more programmes in the libraries, and by providing a comprehensive collection of learning resources.
Heng Kee: A big part of this involves us helping Singaporeans pick up new skills so that they can benefit from technology and get ready for the future economy. We want to tap on digital platforms to reach out to more people, and to provide different learning experiences with technology.
Heng Kee and Elaine: Our hope is for more people to join us in reading, learning, and to promote a lifelong love for knowledge. All of our successes in the past year would not have been possible without the contributions of our donors, sponsors, partners, volunteers, patrons and staff. We look forward to their continued support!