National Library Board's Year-In-Review 2021


Loans returning to pre-pandemic levels as NLB continues to push out digital offerings and in-person programmes

The National Library Board saw a 30 per cent increase in physical and digital book loans in 2021 compared to the year before. One in two individuals used NLB's digital resources in 2021. More than three quarters of them chose a hybrid approach to their reading and learning, for example, reading physical books alongside e-Books, e-magazines, or e-Newspapers.

NLB's services and products had received the following reception in 2021:

  • Growing number of visitors: Across NLB’s network of 27 libraries, the National Archives of Singapore, and the Former Ford Factory, total visitorship grew to 11.5 million, a 26 per cent increase from 2020. 
  • Book loans returning to pre-pandemic levels: Physical and digital books continue to be in demand, as library patrons borrowed a total of 37.9 million items in 2021, a 30 per cent increase from 2020. This increase has brought book loans close to pre-pandemic levels of 40.5 million in 2019. Notably, among the top, mostly international titles, Singaporean author Russell Lee’s "The Almost Complete Collection of True Singapore Ghost Stories: Book 26" took the third spot in NLB's Top 10 physical books.
  • Positive response to the NLB Mobile app: Patrons reached for the NLB Mobile app to read and learn, with 1.75 million sessions clocked on average every month in 2021.
  • Growing participation in programmes and exhibitions: NLB’s 15,000 programmes and 15 exhibitions drew 1.42 million participants, which more than doubled compared to 0.69 million participants in 2020.
  • Higher satisfaction with libraries and archives: In our 2021 Customer Satisfaction Survey of 5,151 patrons, we received a high 4.55 out of 5, compared to 4.42 out of 5 in 2020.

NLB Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Cher Pong, said: "We are encouraged by the positive responses to NLB’s hybrid approach to providing reading and learning experiences for all. Our patrons' reading and learning patterns are evolving, and we will continue to experiment new ways to meet their needs, including enhancing our omni-channel approach that will enable them to do so anywhere and any time. These are all part of LAB25, our Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025, where we are working with partners and the community to reimagine our libraries and archives into a key focal point for our patrons to read and learn with us."

In October 2021, NLB launched LAB25 to invite the community and partners to work together to transform experiences at the libraries and archives to meet the evolving reading and learning needs of our patrons. LAB25 has laid out four key roles whereby NLB will focus its efforts to: build a Learning Marketplace, nurture an Informed Citizenry, inspire Singapore Storytellers, and being an Equaliser.

  1. Learning Marketplace. In November 2021, NLB reopened Choa Chu Kang Public Library and launched LearnX, which is a new portal that has enabled over 8,000 participants across all ages to take part in 167 Learning Focus Areas Programmes from November to December 2021. One key initiative to create a bustling Learning Marketplace is the introduction of the Nodes, a first-of-its-kind initiative that brought learning and reading resources out of libraries and into everyday spaces. Since November 2021, the 18 nodes in shopping malls and other public spaces have welcomed many visitors with over 70,000 interactions with the installations. This year, the Nodes will be extended to more places, including offices, food and beverage outlets, and parks, providing new entry points for citizens to access digital resources.
  2. Informed Citizenry. To encourage patrons to source, understand, research, and evaluate the information they come across, NLB introduced Read to be SURE, a webpage hosting credible sources and perspectives on trending topics. Started on 26 November 2021, the webpage aims to widen the public’s perspectives on trending topics through a combination of curated reading content and accompanying programmes. Since its launch in November 2021 to March 2022, the Read to be SURE webpage has drawn more than 24,000 page views and more than 48,000 video views.
  3. Singapore Storytellers. In January 2022, NLB launched Curiocity to encourage patrons to discover, learn, and tell Singapore Stories through a series of creative installations, treasure hunts, talks and a digital storytelling website. About 80,000 people took part in these events to explore Singapore's heritage, and learn more about what makes us Singaporeans. The Curiocity website, which houses newly updated digital story maps and geo-based content related to the showcase, has received over 50,000 page views from January to February 2022. 
  4. Equaliser. NLB’s efforts for LAB25 continues this year with a spotlight on the Equaliser role with a highlight being the opening of Punggol Regional Library by end-2022. It will be Singapore's first fully inclusive library for everyone, including persons with disabilities, and will bring curated collections and programmes to support patrons’ learning and reading needs. 

NLB’s Year-in-Review 2021 infographic can be downloaded at Facts and Figures.


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.