A five-year plan reimagining the future of libraries and archives.
“The pandemic has shown us that there is not much that can be predicted with absolute certainty. In this changed world and the world that we will transit into, we have to be prepared to adapt and ride on possibilities that present themselves. LAB25 is NLB’s response in this spirit and sets out how we will be with you as together, we refocus libraries and archives to empower you to learn and discover continuously to be ready for the future.
At its heart, LAB25 is an invitation to partners and the community to collaborate with NLB on a journey of innovation and experimentation to reimagine libraries and archives in Singapore.”
Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive, NLB
The National Library Board (NLB) has been relentless in its efforts to nurture reading and to bring knowledge to all Singaporeans. From its formation in 1995 as a statutory board to transform Singapore’s public libraries, to managing the National Archives in 2012, to the development of a network of new regional and community libraries under the Library 2000 Masterplan, NLB has always kept in pace with the nation’s growth.
With LAB25, NLB goes a step further by developing an omni-channel network of library and archives services as the Singapore economy restructures and as society learns to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to support Singaporeans from all strata of society as the nation navigates the rapidly evolving social, cultural and economic landscapes.
We have identified four key roles to help those we serve: building a Learning Marketplace, nurturing an Informed Citizenry, inspiring Singapore Storytellers, and being an Equaliser. Click here for an overview of LAB25 and the four pillars.
We Hear You
In developing LAB25, we first consulted with partners and the public, organising workshops and focus groups to gather ideas as we charted the journey forward. Our public consultation in 2020 drew a strong response, with 440 respondents sharing their feedback. These suggestions and responses have helped us shape NLB’s four key focus areas, even as we invite you to continue voicing your ideas as we consider the future of libraries and archives in Singapore.
Our vision is to expand our formidable user base into a major national platform by opening our doors to partners interested in advancing lifelong learning and discovery. These partners can benefit from this expanded platform and play their part in expanding it further in a virtuous cycle of agglomeration by bringing in their content and audiences. Patrons will be able to enjoy a far greater and more diverse outlay of content and services in their lifelong learning journey.
To realise the Learning Marketplace, NLB will focus on three areas.
First, transforming our platforms. NLB currently operates a network of 28 libraries, the National Library and the archives reading room, as well as offers digital services through its website and the NLB Mobile app. Over the next 5 years, NLB will fully integrate its physical and digital offerings into a network of immersive hubs and nodes. The present NLB Mobile app could be further expanded into a digital “Learning Superstore” to provide seamless omni-channel user experiences. It will connect users to all of NLB’s content and services, offering enhanced access to online resources, transforming physical libraries to provide experiential learning, and nodes to reach out to new patrons.
Second, providing multiple learning pathways such as personalised recommendations for each patron with the use of data and machine learning to string resources to help lifelong learners continually build on their learning.
Lastly, supporting learning communities by connecting patrons with similar learning interests, leveraging the timeless power of libraries as relevant and effective community and social spaces for people to come together.
We aspire to nurture a thoughtful people who reflect deeply on the information they access every day.
We want to provide a platform for the public to access both thought leaders and content creators as well as a wide range of resources and perspectives, in addition to the skills needed to navigate the pitfalls of daily life.
To do this, we will rely on two of NLB’s tried and tested initiatives – the National Reading Movement and S.U.R.E. (an information literacy programme that teaches people to discern the facts from fake news) – and our extensive networks of partners.
Our past is a treasure trove of memories and stories that have helped shape our shared experience as Singaporeans. Through Singapore Storytellers, NLB hopes to nurture a stronger appreciation and understanding of the Singapore experience. This goal will be achieved through the following ways. We will:
We envision this role to be a shared partnership with Singaporeans, as we elicit curiosity and wonder, and help shape an understanding of Singapore’s heritage and identity in the process.
Building on NLB’s long tradition of promoting reading, we are ramping up our efforts to bridge societal gaps and empower as many people as we can in this digital age. We will extend our outreach to children from lower-income families to share the joy of learning, as well as equip seniors with digital skills.
Punggol Regional Library, which will open in 2023, will pioneer integrated services for persons with disabilities. These services will be progressively rolled out in other public libraries.
We also aim to provide a platform for Singaporeans to experience and understand technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud tech and virtual reality, offering even those who are tech-savvy with new opportunities for learning and advancement.
Punggol Regional Library fully opened on 5 April 2023, welcoming everyone to experience reading, learning and discovery in new and accessible ways.
Punggol Regional Library is an important milestone in NLB’s growing role as an Equaliser. The library features an Accessible Collection, assistive technology devices, and Calm Pods, which NLB has been co-creating with the disability community over the years to improve library accessibility. Punggol Regional Library also houses ExperienceIT, a new immersive showcase of emerging technologies and innovations for patrons to experience first-hand how they work.
Visitors can also look forward to Launch, a business resource centre for aspiring entrepreneurs and independent workers, the Punggol Stories exhibition, and new reading, tinkering, and immersive spaces for people of all ages and learning styles. Explore more of Punggol Regional Library’s features and plan a visit to discover them for yourself! here
Grab-n-Go is NLB’s latest experimental concept which allows the seamless borrowing of multiple books by simply going through exit gantries.
These Grab-n-Go libraries are open to all with a library-compliant card or NLB eCard, but only library members without outstanding charges can borrow books.
Borrowing has never been easier:
While all visitors will need to tap their NLB-compliant cards to enter the Grab-n-Go, only borrowers will be prompted to tap their card again upon exit to confirm their loans.
National Library Building, Level 5 Study Lounge
Explore a collection of approximately 5,000 English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil titles across multiple genres like comics, romance and non-fiction, in the pilot Grab-n-Go within the National Library Building.
Comics Library @ Anchorpoint
The Comics Library @ Anchorpoint is a full self-service library featuring NLB’s “Grab-n-Go” service and was launched on 22 September 2023. At the new pop-up Comics Library, patrons can browse through a collection of manga, comics, and graphic novels. Starting off with 7,500 books, the collection will grow to include over 11,000 book titles by early 2024. The collection also includes a mother tongue language collection in Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, and also a separate children’s collection comprising of titles in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil.
Comprising three original video series, Singapore Storytellers highlight the collections of the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore through innovative storytelling. Discover untold stories of Singapore – about the people who lived, the food we love, and the way things were.
From Book to Cook is a cooking show on Singapore’s old recipes found in the National Library collection. In every episode, our librarian-host Paddy Ong and a guest cook will make a dish or two from a vintage recipe. What happens when you put a librarian in the kitchen, armed with traditional kitchen tools and recipes from the past? Catch the series to find out!
Curiocity uses digital storytelling tools to create content that tells interactive and compelling stories about the history of places in Singapore. We invite you to discover the rich stories available and hopefully be inspired to create more. Curious? Read on for a taster of what you can discover on Curiocity!
Digital Stories and Story Maps
Dive into the captivating world of Digital Stories on the Curiocity website and uncover Fort Canning Hill's unexpected connection to swimming pools or the forgotten past of Bras Basah as a beloved haven for movie-goers and a gastronomic paradise during the nation-building years. If these tales do not satisfy your curiosity, there are also enthralling Story Maps that use interactive maps and digital resources to tell compelling tales about places in Singapore such as the origins of Singapore's pioneering nature reserves and the captivating story behind Tiong Bahru's name.
This 1933 map shows where the YMCA swimming pool was once located on Fort Canning Hill. Originally a saltwater tank, it was opened in 1919 and had a springboard, a diving stage, a freshwater bath, and dressing sheds. Explore the rest of the Digital Story of Fort Canning. (Image Credit: National Archives of Singapore)Singapore's nature reserves trace their origins to the 1880s when Nathaniel Cantley, the Superintendent of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, proposed their establishment. Find out the reason behind this initiative in the Story Map of the first nature reserves of Singapore. (Image Credit: Singapore Land Authority collection, courtesy of National Archives of Singapore) New on Curiocity: ArchiChronicles ArchiChronicles showcases the history and development of some of Singapore’s most iconic structures. From towering skyscrapers to historic landmarks, it uses immersive digital storytelling tools such as interactivetimelines and juxtapose sliders together with photographs, building plans, maps and books sourced from the National Library of Singapore and the National Archives of Singapore to narrate the stories behind these architectural marvels, their significance to the country’s heritage, and their impact on the landscape of Singapore. Golden Mile Complex envisioned in the Urban Renewal Department's (today’s Urban Redevelopment Authority) 1966 land sale announcement. Explore the resource history of the Golden Mile Complex in this resource timeline. (Source: Urban Renewal Department’s Sale of Urban Renewal Sites for Private Development, 1966)
Nodes at SMRT Train Stations and Bus Interchanges
To make daily commutes on Singapore’s public transport system a more enriching experience, SMRT Corporation (SMRT) and NLB have collaborated to launch seven Nodes at MRT train station platforms and bus interchanges across Singapore. These Nodes, which will be available from September 2023 to March 2024, will provide SMRT commuters quick and convenient access to a selection of eMagazine titles such as TIME, National Geographic, PC World, Reader’s Digest, Storytime and Biblioasia, NLB YouTube videos and eBooks. The titles were carefully curated to cater to commuters of all ages and background. Most of the content is also refreshed every month so that commuters have something new to look forward to.
Nodes can be found at the following SMRT train stations and bus interchanges:
Read to be SURE aims to educate and inform the public on trending topics through a combination of curated reading content and accompanying programmes. By exploring multiple perspectives on these topics, readers and participants will benefit from a balanced and credible knowledge base.
In the latest edition of Read to be SURE, explore multiple viewpoints on gender equality. Read the issue here.
LearnX’s Learning Pathways are a gateway to learning and discovery, offering a wide range of programmes and resources from NLB and our partners. Explore specially curated pathways for eight key learning focus areas – Digital, Careers, Sustainability, Reading, Science, Singapore, Wellness, Arts – or be empowered to create your own tailor-made learning journey!
Our communities are the heartbeat of our libraries. With our LearnX Communities initiative, we engage with groups across our public libraries to empower volunteer-led learning communities that span a diverse range of interests and passions. Our community projects include an interactive chatbot project created by members of the Chatbot learning community and the Communities: Zzzink! club at library@orchard that aims to promote the reading of zines through its zines reproduction, displayed in a gallery showcase.
Explore our Learning Pathways and find your learning community today on the new LearnX website!
Get the library at your doorstep with NLB’s Borrow-n-Deliver service! For a fee of $8.64 (GST-inclusive), select up to 4 available items via NLB's e-Catalogue, including books, magazines and audio-visual materials, and have them delivered to your home! Click here for more details and make your first order today!
The LAB25 logo embodies our vision for the libraries and archives of tomorrow – dynamic, collaborative, open-ended. Pixels in motion capture a forward-looking attitude and a strong momentum as we embark on the journey ahead. Neon streaks reanimate NLB’s brand colours and highlight the diversity of roles and initiatives that energise LAB25 as a perpetual process of information, innovation, and transformation. Deconstructed elements express a work-in-progress spirit and opportunities for building together in collaboration. The logo, like LAB25 itself, is a blueprint for what could come next, and an invitation to all of you to reimagine libraries and archives with us. For now and the future.
This is just the start of our exciting LAB25 journey and we are eager to explore its many possibilities with you. We would like to invite you to join us as a partner or a volunteer. Working together, we can reimagine our libraries and archives to meet the challenges of the future.