Key Highlights

Readers for Life
Learning Communities
Readers for Life

Enhanced NLB Mobile App

Our enhanced app was rolled out on 25 October 2017 with new features such as access to eMagazines and eNewspapers, and a better eBook search function. From November 2017, the virtual library card was also introduced to the app. This enables patrons to perform transactions – from retrieving items from reservation lockers, to borrowing books – without having to use their physical cards.

Digital Business Library

Accessible via the Overdrive mobile app and website, the Digital Business Library is a one-stop portal with resources on career advancement, skills, technology, management and entrepreneurship, to support lifelong learning. For busy readers, summarised versions of books condense key points into 10-minute reads. Our NLB portal on Overdrive was also updated with a Kids’ eReading Room offering eBooks for kids; a showcase of award-winning reads; and collections by partners such as SkillsFuture Singapore.

Promoting lifelong learning

In October 2017, we piloted the Seniors Tech and Read (S.T.A.R.) programme at Bedok Public Library. It comprises Tech Assist, where we help seniors access our e-Resources, and Read Assist, where we support them in reading library materials. With 18 sessions conducted by 62 volunteers for 152 participants so far, we are planning to expand this to other libraries.

We also partnered SkillsFuture Singapore to run programmes at our libraries. SkillsFuture Advice workshops raise awareness on skills upgrading and career planning, while the two-day SkillsFuture for Digital Workplace programme teaches basic digital skills.

AskST@NLB and ZB Happy Read@NLB talks

Following the success of the AskST@NLB talks by The Straits Times’ journalists, we have extended the collaboration for another five years from July 2017. We also partnered with Lianhe Zaobao to start the 早报悦读@NLB or ZB Happy Read@NLB talk series in August 2017, to promote reading in mother tongue languages. Both programmes are well-received with full-house sessions.

POSB-NLB Kids’ Lit Quiz™ 2017 National Finals

Teams of young readers battled it out in the national finals of the POSB-NLB Kids’ Lit Quiz™ on 22 April 2017, with the winning team from St. Joseph’s Institution Junior going on to the World Finals in Canada in June. It was the fourth local edition of the quiz, organised by NLB and supported by POSB and Marshall Cavendish. 22 of our libraries across the island also held Book Out! quizzes prior to the finals, where members of the public could test their literary knowledge.

Promoting reading in mother tongue languages

In August 2017, we launched the bilingual card game Myth Masters, which was based on the Chinese classics Journey to the West and Classic of Mountain and Sea. Some 2,000 young readers redeemed cards by borrowing mother tongue language books – generating 200,000 loans – and participated in reading activities. We also expanded our mother tongue language reading clubs since their pilot in 2015, reaching 4,800 children with the help of over 160 volunteers. As of March 2018, we have 21 reading clubs: eight in Chinese, five in Malay, and eight in Tamil.
Learning Communities

Four next-generation libraries reopened

Bukit Panjang Public Library reopened on 1 July 2017 at almost double its previous size. In the Children Zone’s new Stories Come Alive Room, tales leap off the page with the help of projections, lighting and sound effects, so that children can immerse themselves in the storytelling experience. Rising up in the Adults’ Zone is the new Book Mountain, where the Adults’ Non-Fiction collection is shelved along a gradual ramp, with cosy reading areas nestled amongst the books.

Tampines Regional Library reopened on 5 August 2017, spanning five floors with double the previous floor space. In the snazzy new #spaceout area, teens can hang out in the comfortable study lounge and check out trending topics on digital screens. There is also an exciting PIXEL Labs@NLB maker space – a collaboration with the Infocomm Media Development Authority – where patrons can use 3D printers and Arduino kits to create interactive gadgets.

Bedok Public Library reopened at its new location in Heartbeat@Bedok on 28 October 2017, with a fresh green theme and new features such as cosy pods in the newspaper reading area. This library is the first to have a dedicated area and special programmes for seniors in our community. The Seniors’ Corner’s casual design is inspired by a living room, with services such as a large print collection, an electronic magnifier, and a keyboard with large letters for ease of typing. A dedicated Learning Zone also hosts Silver Infocomm Junction computer classes.

Yishun Public Library reopened on 3 February 2018 with a digital focus. The new library keeps up with readers’ connected lifestyles with its digital shopfront that is accessible 24/7, and our first Digital Learning Zone. Our virtual bookshelves allow eBooks to be checked out simply by scanning a QR code, while dedicated Learning Pods give access to virtual resources such as TEDx talks. The space also invites those who prefer offline reading to settle down with a good book in cosy private nooks.
Tampines Regional Library
Tampines Regional Library
Bedok Public Library
Yishun Public Library

Four Conversations

On 3 and 4 June 2017, four thought leaders shared insights on how Singaporeans can be future-ready in today’s rapidly changing world. Topics ranged from the importance of creativity, to the skills needed to stay ahead of a knowledge-based economy. Four Conversations: New Thinking For A New World featured physiology expert Professor Robert Root-Bernstein of Michigan State University; A*STAR’s chief scientist Professor Sir David Lane; Dr Ismail Serageldin, founding director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina; and The Straits Times’ associate opinion editor Lydia Lim.

Read! Fest 2017

Our annual Read! Fest 2017 brought 150 programmes to readers island-wide from 9 June to 29 July 2017. With 88 local authors featured, our Flavours of Singapore spotlight series provided a literary buffet of panels, book launches and meet-the-author talks. We offered events in all four official languages. Our Print & Stage series showcased theatre and interactive storytelling, while workshops provided a range of hands-on experiences, from flash fiction and poetry, to food sketching and even making bunga rampai (Peranakan potpourri). Other events took readers Beyond the Page – on a literary tour of Keong Saik, for example.

National Reading Day 2017

National Reading Day on 29 July 2017 brought together Singaporeans across the island in celebration of reading, with more than 60 reading activities held at our libraries and community spaces. It was also the culmination of our week-long Read for Books charity drive, where one book was donated for every 10 people who read for 15 minutes.

The event also featured the second edition of our Big Book Giveaway, where members of the public could bring home up to three preloved library books.


Dr Yaacob met our partners to hear about their organisations’ reading journeys. Held on 27 October 2017, the event started with sharing sessions on DBS/POSB and DP Architects’ Read@Work experiences and their collaborations with us. This was followed by a presentation on our Digital Business Library. Dr Yaacob also viewed an exhibition on the Read@Work programme and mingled with our partners over breakfast.

eReads @ Ulu Pandan

We launched eReads @ Ulu Pandan, a mini digital library in Ulu Pandan Community Club, on 20 January 2018. The pilot project includes a Digital Library Kiosk featuring our full collection of over 150,000 eBook and audiobook titles. Readers can browse eBooks and borrow them on the spot with the NLB Mobile app. At the eNewspaper Station, patrons can read digital versions of local newspapers. eReads @ Ulu Pandan is just the beginning, and we hope to bring these digital libraries to malls, hospitals and schools.

Taxi Shifu and Friends Reading Club

Senior Minister of State Mr Chee Hong Tat dropped by to meet our book-loving taxi drivers on 20 January 2018, at the first Taxi Shifu and Friends Reading Club sharing session of the year. Mr Low Lip, author of The Singapore HDB Flats Story, which the reading club discussed, was also present. Established in 2005, the Chinese-language book club now has 70 members and conducts bi-monthly book discussions at Ang Mo Kio Public Library.
Knowledgeable Nation
Learning Communities
Knowledgeable Nation

Eye on Asia

Our new Eye on Asia resource centre comprises a dedicated online portal and a physical space on Level 7 of the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, offering a broad selection of books and digital resources on emerging Asian economies. Through these curated resources and our monthly programmes, we hope to encourage everyone to be more aware of regional developments and explore opportunities in these countries. Eye on Asia is a collaboration with Enterprise Singapore, Business China and the International Trading Institute @ Singapore Management University.

Giving voice to Singapore's history

The National Archives of Singapore’s Oral History Centre formed the Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasian Community Oral History Committees to work with communities and develop our oral history collection. The committees aim to preserve Singapore’s collective memories to ensure it is comprehensive, multi-focal in scope, and representative of Singapore’s society.

Sounds of Yesteryear

The sounds of our past now resound through cyberspace, thanks to the National Archives of Singapore’s Sounds of Yesteryear initiative. Ranging from early Malay songs to performances by Singapore’s oldest Chinese opera troupes, these 52 Singapore-related pre-war musical recordings were released weekly on the Archives Online website. Dating from 1903 to 1941, the recordings were selected from over 3,500 shellac and vinyl records preserved by the National Archives of Singapore.

Tales of the Malay World

From 18 August 2017 to 25 February 2018, we brought rare manuscripts from the Malay literary world to our library patrons in the Tales of the Malay World: Manuscripts and Early Books exhibition. This showcase was a partnership with the British Library (UK), Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland (UK), and Leiden University Library (Netherlands). This marked the exhibition’s Southeast Asia debut with collections from these important holdings being brought together. More than 140 items were on display, charting the transition from handwritten manuscripts to early printed works in the 19th century. Free programmes such as curator’s tours, lectures and film screenings complemented the exhibition.

State of Motion 2018

State of Motion 2018: Sejarah-ku (My History) – the third edition of Asian Film Archive’s annual flagship series – revisited the golden age of Malay cinema in the last decade of pre-independence Singapore. Held from 12 January to 11 February 2018, the series presented 10 seminal films produced mainly by the now-defunct Shaw Malay Film Productions Ltd, performances, talks, and an exhibition. Part of the Singapore Art Week 2018, the event also featured guided film location tours – including, for the first time, an offshore tour to Pulau Ubin – with artworks inspired by the films and their locations.

Research publication on the Koh Seow Chuan collection

Three researchers delved into the riches of an important donor collection and wrote a new book, Singapore’s Social & Business History Through Paper Ephemera in the Koh Seow Chuan Collection. Launched on 21 November 2017, the book uncovers stories from Singapore’s migrant history through items such as business receipts, legal documents and remittance letters, from the history of family-owned medical hall Eu Yan Sang, to the business practices of Chettiar moneylenders from India.

The Koh Seow Chuan collection donated to us covers more than 9,000 legal and business documents, maps, hand-delivered letters, paintings, books and photographs from Asia, dating back to before the 1900s. Mr Koh Seow Chuan, a prominent architect, philatelist and heritage philanthropist, made his first donation to the National Library in 2007 and has added to the collection over the years.

Donation by the
Singapore Lam Ann Association

We received a donation of rare primary documents from the Singapore Lam Ann Association on 2 March 2018. This included minutes of meetings from the founding committee, which were dated 1924-1935, and a set of seven rare account books on the construction of the Hong San See temple, one of the oldest temples in Singapore. The donation, made up of more than 100 items, will help Singaporeans understand the history of Chinese clan associations and the early building and construction sector in Singapore. It will also contribute to our goal of supporting research and encouraging a deeper understanding of Singapore’s rich history and heritage. The materials will be made accessible to researchers and members of the public at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. A selection will also be digitised and made available for public access on our BookSG website.

Chapters on Asia

From the works of local Tamil writers to the lives of cabaret “lancing” girls, lesser-known aspects of our history were explored in nine separate essays by the recipients of our Lee Kong Chian Research Fellowship for 2014 to 2016. Written with the help of resources from our collections, these research papers were collated into the third volume of our Chapters on Asia series, and launched on 27 February 2018.