Accessible to Everyone

The first step to gain knowledge is to make information accessible to all.

The past year has been a busy one for the Board. Library membership reached 1.76 million in 1999, a 10% increase from 1998, with almost one in every two Singaporeans being a member. A total of 19.7 million people visited the libraries in 1999, an increase of 8.5% from the previous year. By the end of FY1999, over 24.7 million items of library materials were borrowed. The NL.Line, the Board's website, recorded three million hits in 1999, a 58% increase over 1998.

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Library Upgrade

Toa Payoh had good reasons to celebrate when the upgraded Toa Payoh Community Library was re-opened in May 1999. New features included a senior citizens' corner, knowledge island clusters, a café, and an IT training centre.

The feather in the cap for the upgraded library was ONE Learning Place. A joint effort with the then National Computer Board (NCB), this was an IT training centre offering basic, intermediate and advanced Internet training at affordable prices.

Occupying 430 sq m, ONE Learning Place's 142 computer stations are connected to the Singapore ONE network. This allows users to access interactive multimedia content and services at high speed. It is the largest training centre of its kind in Singapore. The training offered is broad-based, covering a range of basic, intermediate and advanced computer courses. It caters to a large cross-section of Singaporeans, from ages of 12-60 years old. From May 1999 to March 2000, 51,000 people were trained.

Two other IT-related programmes were also introduced at Toa Payoh Community Library. The first was the Basic Information Literacy Training (BILT) programme, where participants learnt how to use the library's database, reference tools, catalogues and other services. A total of 31 sessions were held in 1999 and these were attended by 358 participants.

The second was the Cybrarian Service, which taught users how to access the library's various electronic information resources. Assuming the role of a 'cyber librarian', the service was made available at multimedia stations to provide users with easy and effective computer instructions when retrieving information. Both programmes were well-received by the public. The Cybrarian Service survey showed that 91% of users found it useful, 93% found it easy to use and 92% were keen to see the Service introduced at other libraries.

The Toa Payoh Community Library has proven to be very popular - attracting an average of 210,000 visitors and 180,000 loans per month.

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Lifestyle Library

library@orchard, Singapore's first lifestyle library, was officially opened in October 1999. It is located in the heart of Orchard Road at Ngee Ann City. The library was designed to cater to the needs of young adults aged 18-35 years. It is the Board's 16th community library and the sixth to be located in a shopping mall.

Contemporary, hip and fun, it carries a focused collection of lifestyle titles (e.g. travel, contemporary fiction, the arts, health and fitness, self-help & self-improvement) designed to appeal to the younger adults. There is also a Programme Zone to stage talks, forums, exhibitions and performances, and an in-library café. The artful combination of print, sound, video and graphics makes it a venue of learning with a difference.

On the library's opening day, it received more than 15,000 visitors and registered loans of over 10,000 books and magazines.


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Premium Service

Every library member is important to us. The Board strives to meet or exceed their expectations in every way. The Premium Service launched in September 1999 was a step in that direction. This scheme allowed library members to borrow four additional items, comprising books, magazines or audio-visual (AV) materials, within the same three-week loan period, at an annual subscription fee of $20.60. The new service was well-received, with 17,334 members signing up by December 1999.

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HuayiNet ( ), an online Chinese Overseas Databank website, was launched at library@orchard in February 2000. HuayiNet ("hua" means "Chinese", and "yi" means "descent") is a website of the Inter-Agency Committee on Chinese Overseas Databank & Research Collection, formed by nine institutions in Singapore.

The Board initiated the formation of the Committee in September 1998, to serve the growing international interest in overseas Chinese. This is part of the Board's strategic thrust to help shape Singapore into a global knowledge hub offering information on regional business and culture. It is also part of Singapore's national initiative to foster greater understanding and knowledge about ethnic Chinese communities outside China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

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VISTA was implemented in July 1999 to provide better and more user-friendly electronic information services to library users. Replacing the Board's old library automation system, it was designed to shoulder the escalating loan transactions of approximately 25 million a year, as well as provide greater system reliability. The system offers a catalogue database that allows users to access the service from school, home and office through the Internet. This access is also available from NL.Line at

The system's enhanced information search interfaces caters to the Board's spectrum of clientele from the young to the old. Screen views were tailored to meet the needs of first-time library users as well as the expert researcher. The system caters to English, Chinese and Malay language search needs.

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