Committee of Supply 2021 – NLB’s Innovative Digital Offerings for All

02 Mar 2021


1.         Libraries and archives play a critical role in championing digital and information literacy, and lifelong learning for all. When the National Library Board (NLB)’s facilities were temporarily closed during the circuit breaker, NLB continued serving patrons by rapidly growing its array of new and digital offerings. These initiatives continue to be extremely popular with children, teens, adults, seniors, and working professionals.

Expanded digital collections
2.         Demand for physical library books and materials surged the weekend before the temporary closure of NLB’s facilities, with a 225% increase in loans of physical library materials. NLB responded to the demand by expanding its digital collections, uploading over 8,000 eBooks with unlimited checkouts, introducing home access to SPH eNewspapers as well as digital offerings such as online storytelling sessions and learning packages. NLB’s expanded digital collection has enjoyed immense success, with an 145% increase in e-database usage and a 32% increase in digital loans since April 2020. 

Digital storytelling for children (Storytime)
3.         To encourage reading and learning from home, NLB introduced pre-recorded storytelling sessions in English and mother tongue languages on Facebook from 13 April 2020. The 270 videos have received over 660,000 views to date.

4.         Storytime continues to be available on Facebook in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. The 5 to 15 minutes long storytelling sessions are hosted by librarians, volunteers and local authors every week. One average, each session engages engages 2,400 children.

Little Book Box
5.         As reading is a gift for the whole family, NLB piloted a book subscription service, The Little Book Box, to bring a selection of eight English children’s books to patron’s doorsteps every month. The fiction and non-fiction titles span a range of children’s interest and cater to two age groups – from 4 to 6 years old and 7 to 9 years old. Launched on 2 October 2020 in conjunction with Children’s Day, the first round of the $10.70 per month (including GST) subscription service was fully subscribed within the first week of the launch. The pilot will run until July 2021.[1]

6.         To ensure that this subscription service is accessible to children from low-income families, NLB partnered with The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund to sponsor up to 200 children from low-income families with a free nine-month book subscription service. 

Free access to eNewspapers for library patrons
7.         During the circuit breaker, NLB made it possible for patrons to have free home access to eight SPH eNewspapers, namely The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper, Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao, Shin Min Daily News, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu. In addition to the daily edition of the eNewspapers, library patrons can access past issues of the newspapers for a week.

8.         The popularity of these digital newspapers prompted NLB to work with SPH to continue providing free access from home to library patrons beyond the circuit breaker period.[2] The service has an average of over 860,000 logins per month. 

Online programmes for adults and seniors[3]
9.         To support the transition to working, learning and playing from home, NLB presented a series of online programmes for adults, especially working professionals and seniors. Since the circuit breaker, we have run more than 1,300 programme sessions, reaching over 130,000 adults.

10.       NLB’s launched season 3 of its popular Get Professional series on 6 February 2020. The expert-led workshops taught working adults essential soft skills to improve workplace productivity and communication, and highlighted critical competencies for job searching. These online programmes have seen an average of 43 participants per session.

11.       For patrons aged 50 and above, the Time of Your Life series featured informative talks, creative workshops, book clubs, and learning communities on a wide range of topics such as health, personal finance, technology, and the arts to encourage seniors to continue learning from home. These online programmes have seen an average of 40 participants per session.

12.       There have also been increased digital offerings of programmes such as A Librarian’s World and Archives Unlocked. NLB also launched the “From the Stacks” Season 2 – a collection of exclusive videos highlighting rare materials of historical significance in the National Library’s collection and virtual gallery tours. These have been made available on social media.[4]

Information literacy for seniors
13.       Responding to a surge in misinformation on COVID-19, especially among seniors, NLB published an ePresentation titled, "How to be S.U.R.E. about your COVID-19 information" on 6 May 2020 ( NLB also released a series of “How to be S.U.R.E. before you share” animated videos in Chinese, Malay and Tamil, to teach viewers how to safeguard themselves against false information on the Internet and social media in 24 July 2020 ( 

New learning packages on subjects like pandemics
14.       To encourage learning at home for all ages, NLB launched learning packages on subjects like Pandemics and the Global Economy, to help patrons understand and cope with the new normal in March 2020. New instalments continue to be published fortnightly ( 

History and heritage
15.       Bringing the collections of the National Archives of Singapore and the National Library online, we launched a new blog (, and added a new series of archival videos on Mediacorp’s meWATCH service in late August 2020, titled Reflections of Yesteryear, looking at the journey of Singapore’s first generation leaders.

16.       We also encourage people to contribute their stories online through SoundscapeSG, a crowd-sourcing initiative that called on the public to contribute sound recordings from their everyday lives. From 5 August 2020, members of the public were invited to help build a sound map of Singapore by contributing recordings that represent Singapore’s unique sonic heritage at This is the first time the National Archives of Singapore is collecting snippets of Singapore’s evolving soundscape. Through this project, NLB aims to collect sound recordings of present-day Singapore before they are no longer available.

17.       For more information on NLB’s new and digital offerings, please download the NLB mobile app ( or visit

About National Library Board
The National Library Board (NLB) nurtures Readers for Life, Learning Communities and a Knowledgeable Nation by promoting reading, learning and history through its network of 27 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB also forges strategic partnerships that encourage awareness, appreciation and greater discovery of Singapore’s history through its rich collections on Singapore and the region.

NLB achieves excellence through innovation, focusing on citizen engagement and co-creation, resource and digital innovation. This creates learning opportunities, greater access to library resources, services and archival collections, as well as a continual development of innovative library spaces. Established on 1 September 1995 as a statutory board, NLB is under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

For more information, please visit the NLB website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

For media clarification, please contact:

YEO Hannah (Ms)
Assistant Manager
Corporate Communications Division, NLB
HP: (65) 8322 4965

[1] Patrons can subscribe for this service at

[2] Library patrons can access these eNewspapers for free at and sign in with their myLibrary ID. Alternatively, they can sign in to the NLB mobile app ( and click on the SPH icon.

[3] Interested participants can continue to register for online programmes through the Go Library portal (

[4] The National Library, Singapore’s social media channels are: