Readers for Life, Learning Communities, Knowledgeable Nation.
We make knowledge come alive, spark imagination and create possibilities.
About the National Library Board (NLB)
Our libraries and archives promote reading, learning, information literacy and an interest in Singapore’s history and heritage. In 2019, we reached 7 in 10 residents in Singapore through our services, programmes and spaces.
Besides the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore, we have a total of 28 libraries in our network, comprising 25 public libraries owned and operated by NLB and 3 partners’ libraries. Our public libraries bring in more than 24 million visitors annually who borrow more than 30 million library materials and attend more than 25,000 programmes.
We aim to deliver a more personalised and omnichannel experience across multiple channels and devices by integrating our digital offerings with our physical collections and programmes at our facilities. We continue to expand our digital content, available on our website, the NLB mobile app and our social media channels (@nlbsg). This includes more than 800,000 eBooks and audiobooks, digital storytelling sessions, free access to SPH‘s eNewspapers, online talks, programmes and workshops, as well as our learning packages.
Our public libraries cater to patrons from the young to working adults and senior citizens and provide a wide lending collection of books, magazines, newspapers and audio-visual materials, across a range of subjects for everyone to use and enjoy. Complementing this are reading and learning services and programmes such as multimedia stations, where one can access NLB’s eResources and the Internet, storytelling sessions for children, talks for adults on a plethora of topics and workshops for senior citizens, among others. The choices offered for reading and learning in our public libraries are endless and almost all these services and programmes are offered free-of-charge to Singaporeans and permanent residents in Singapore. Among our public libraries are two specialised libraries with a focus on the performing arts (library@esplanade) and design (library@orchard).
Prefer to browse online? Through the NLB mobile app, we run a highly popular 24/7 digital library which offers all residents, including those based overseas, access to a wide collection of eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, eComics and learning resources such as courses and videos.
We manage two other public libraries on behalf of partners. The library@chinatown is supported by the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple to promote Chinese language and culture in all four languages, while the LLiBrary at the Lifelong Learning Institute is supported by SkillsFuture Singapore to promote reading and lifelong learning among working adults.
In addition, we extend our support to organisations that are keen to set up smaller community-run libraries by donating pre-loved books and offering advice on how to operate these libraries. For instance, we support more than 50 reading corners islandwide located in community centres, senior activity centres, pre-schools and hospitals. Each corner offers a collection of between 500 and 3,000 books donated by us, for different age groups in the four languages, based on the community’s needs.
Equal reading opportunities for everyone
We aim to provide equal reading opportunities for all Singaporeans. Since 2008, we have been operating a total of three mobile libraries (called MOLLY) to deliver the joy of reading to the underprivileged. Our fleet comprises one big MOLLY bus that offers books for adults, children and those with special needs, and two mini-MOLLY buses with a large collection of children’s books to support early literacy. Our MOLLY buses and the operations are fully sponsored by Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, and are equipped with assistive features that make the buses more accessible to people with special needs. Our mobile libraries have made over 15,000 trips since 2008, and have served more than 1 million patrons.
We continue our aim to make reading and lifelong learning accessible to everyone by working closely with the community and partners, and co-developing programmes that meet the needs and aspirations of Singaporeans. These include initiatives such as Project Deliver Me, where volunteers deliver books to those who are homebound, Early Read’s starter kit programme that targets children from lower income families, kidsREAD and WondeRead, which target different groups of the community which have difficulty accessing public libraries on their own. To date, these programmes have reached 112,000 beneficiaries and children, with the help of more than 1,300 volunteers.
Promoting reading in mother tongue languages
Beyond making reading accessible to all, we also encourage Singaporeans to read and learn in their mother tongue languages. We have set up several reading clubs, also known as Learning Communities, for all ages in Chinese, Malay and Tamil to build up interest and strengthen the command of mother tongue languages among all.
We have 21 volunteer-run reading clubs for children in Singapore in Chinese, Malay and Tamil – across our public libraries. For adults, we have 20 mother tongue language reading clubs to encourage lifelong learning through reading and learning in these languages. We plan to expand the reach of our Learning Communities, and grow our mother tongue language collections to meet the needs of our patrons. We have close to 1.9 million physical books, and more than 26,000 eBooks and audiobooks across our entire mother tongue languages collection.
Preserving Singapore’s heritage and advocating information literacy
The National Library is Singapore’s knowledge institution, responsible for collecting, preserving, curating and making accessible our documentary and published heritage as well as the provision of trusted reference services. We are the premier resource for works on or about Singapore and the region, and we provide the largest selection of reference works in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
Our physical collections are complemented by a wide range of digital collections, resources and electronic databases such as NewspaperSG for Singapore and Malaya newspapers, Infopedia on all things Singapore, BookSG for digitised rare books and documents, and NORA, the National Online Repository of the Arts.
Using our rich collections, we create the discovery and greater appreciation of Singapore’s history and culture, as well as create the platform for the public to engage with thought leaders through our active engagement efforts, whether through exhibitions, programmes and publications. We have two permanent galleries located at the National Library Building. The first is The Donors’ Gallery on Level 10, which features a selection of donations that provide a glimpse into the life of early Singapore. The second is The News Gallery: Beyond Headlines on Level 11, which offers an interactive platform for visitors to learn how to be more discerning about information and media.
That is not all. In an increasingly digital age, the National Library has three virtual exhibitions, Script & Stage, Selling Dreams, and From the Stacks, where online visitors can explore everything from rare materials to local theatre history and print advertising – all while on the go. There is also an array of digital content specially curated for users who prefer to visit us digitally on social media. Aside from programmes related to Singapore, our Eye on Asia initiative provides resources for anyone interested in opportunities in the region.
In a time when misinformation and fake news are common, the National Library has an important role to play in growing a more discerning citizenry. Our S.U.R.E. (Source, Understand, Research, Evaluate) information literacy programme creates programmes and learning resources targeted at all Singaporeans.
Curating Singapore’s valuable archival materials
The National Archives of Singapore is the keeper of archival materials of national and historical significance and is one of the vaults of Singapore’s memories. We have built a strong collection of official and private paper documents, photographs, audio-visual and sound recordings, maps and building plans, and oral history interviews.
Our collection is neither static nor passive and we have started to proactively reach out to different communities. Over time, we hope that the revamped National Archives of Singapore Building will become a lively hub for Singaporeans and anyone interested in Singapore to connect with our history and culture through our public talks (Archives Invites and Archives Unlocked), tours, workshops and film screenings. For example, the Archives Invites and Archives Unlocked talk series highlight the stories of our nation and allow us, as well as those who come after us, to understand, explore and appreciate our common heritage.
We have worked hard to provide easier access to the archival materials in both the Archives Reading Room at the National Archives of Singapore Building and Archives Online. Archives Online allows everyone to browse through the digital collections using any suitable electronic device at any time, as well as to request and receive copies of archival materials online through our e-Request system.
Besides collecting and providing access to archival materials, the National Archives of Singapore has curated an exhibition on Singapore’s constitutional history currently at the National Gallery of Singapore and a permanent exhibition on World War II at the Former Ford Factory. Digital versions of both these exhibitions – Law of the Land and Surviving the Japanese Occupation – are also available online.
The National Library Board has two subsidiaries:
Founded in 2005, the Asian Film Archive is a non-profit organisation that preserves the rich film heritage of Singapore and Asian cinema and encourages scholarly research on film. The Asian Film Archive reference collection is available to the public at library@esplanade and the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library. The Asian Film Archive organises regular film screenings, workshops, talks and exhibitions to promote a wider appreciation of Asian cinema. These activities are held at the Oldham Theatre in the National Archives of Singapore Building and at various public spaces including the National Library Building and the public libraries.
The Library & Archives Solutions Pte Ltd (LAAS) markets and exports our expertise, products and services to libraries in Singapore and overseas. This includes a wide range of services such as library planning and design, library and archives consulting services, management of library operations, cataloguing, digitisation and training services. Some of the overseas projects are the China-Singapore Friendship Library in Tianjin Eco-City, and the National Library of Myanmar in Naypyitaw.
Beyond collections, we also strive to build a vibrant community by actively forging partnerships with both individuals and organisations. For example, we have close to 5,000 active volunteers who contribute to our libraries and archives across a wide range of activities, such as reading programmes and learning workshops. If you are keen to join us as a volunteer, learn more about
how can you make a difference at
Other local and international partners, too, offer invaluable help in extending the reach of our services and building up our collections. For more information on partnership opportunities with us, check out https://www.nlb.gov.sg/GetInvolved/WorkWithUs/PartnerUs.aspx.