NLB’s 2024 Year in Preview – Innovative Services and New Experiences For All

In line with LAB25’s spirit of innovation, NLB to pilot three tech prototypes, and reopen the Central Public Library with exciting spaces for discovery

The National Library Board’s LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025) has been guiding our journey of innovation and experimentation since its launch in 2021. In addition to enhancing its physical libraries and archives, NLB has offered an array of new services to deliver an omni-channel experience to its patrons. This included setting up library Nodes at train and bus stations, malls, and hospitals, opening pop-up libraries (Manga, Comics and the latest Garfield x Mr Kiasu) around Singapore, starting delivery services such as The Little Book Box, and Borrow-n-Deliver (which was launched in June 2023), and launching Punggol Regional Library, the biggest public library in Singapore in April this year.


Visitorship and loans have been steadily increasing following the dips during the pandemic, and this has significantly boosted NLB’s Reach. As of August 2023, the overall Reach, or the proportion of Singapore residents who have visited NLB’s libraries and archives, and accessed NLB’s content through our programmes, exhibitions and services in the preceding one year was 78.0%. This brings us back to pre-COVID levels (72.5% in 2019), and represents a significant increase over the previous year (61.7% in 2022).


New Experiences

The strong responses to the new services have encouraged NLB to develop new ones, and enhance existing pilots, such as the Nodes around Singapore and the self-checkout system Grab-n-Go. In 2024, everyone can look forward to more new experiences and innovations from NLB. These include the following:

a.     Reopening of Central Public Library on 12 Jan 2024 – After closing for a revamp in June 2022, this library will reopen with new experiences in learning for children and adults. Look forward to going in depth into Singapore’s culture and literature, and sustainability. More details soon!


b.    Three major exhibitions – The first exhibition based on the Singapore Architecture Collection will open later this year and run till next year. Jointly presented by NLB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the exhibition aims to enhance Singaporeans’ appreciation of our built heritage. Second, the Laws of Our Land exhibition will reopen at the National Gallery Singapore with refreshed content and artefacts that trace Singapore’s legal history and the laws that founded the nation. Third, the exhibition featuring pioneer Nanyang artists will showcase new materials and insights from the significant 1950s period in Singapore’s art history. The exhibition will be held at the National Library in late 2024.


c.     Expanding our digital content offerings – More e-resources, including for e-learning, will be available for all in the coming year. This includes Season 2 of NLB’s popular From Book to Cook series, which features Singapore’s culinary heritage. There will also be new video streaming e-resources offered for the first time by NLB.


New Tech Prototypes

In a wide-ranging experiment to push new frontiers in learning and discovery, NLB is testing the use of new cutting-edge technologies such as Generative AI. Since April 2023, NLB has been working with private and public sector partners to develop several new prototypes that aim to enhance how Singaporeans discover, learn and experience. In the next few months, NLB will launch three tech prototypes, ChatBook, Glue and StoryGen.


Details of the three tech prototypes and our vision for what they can be are as follows:



ChatBook is a Generative AI-powered chat service where users can have a conversation with books. It provides responses based on the content ingested (e.g. published books, and NLB’s online resources). 

Two versions – a web version (for academics and researchers) and a WhatsApp version (for the general public) will be developed. For the web version, ChatBook will cite and show previews of the source it has used so that users can go further in their reading and discovery. 

Through ChatBook, users can engage or even “debate” with books in an interactive manner. Users will also be prompted to either buy or borrow the books, or delve deeper into NLB’s online resources.

Besides the published books, ChatBook can also draw from other content that authors have written for their books but did not use eventually, as well as other sources they have drawn from – almost like a director’s cut of the books.

NLB is launching user testing for ChatBook based on the book Seven Hundred Years: A History of Singapore by Kwa Chong Guan, Derek Heng, Peter Borschberg and Tan Tai Yong, as well as NLB’s online resources by the end of this year. 


Glue is a live visualiser that presents a dynamic composite of Singapore, past and present, through photographs, captions and bite-sized content from individuals and institutional sources. This can be geo-based or theme-based.

It can be populated through: (a) hashtags (e.g. #SgMemories), (b) user submissions on the Glue or from any other linked platforms, and (c) curated institutional sources, including those from NLB’s collections.

The visualiser can be accessed both on-the-go (through a web interface) as well as in a phygital form at public spaces, including libraries and museums. The shape of the visualiser can also be adapted to be visually stunning, e.g. as a map of Singapore.

At the libraries, it can be the nexus of community information. For example, it can present the heritage and memories of the area as well as community happenings. Through Glue, users can better understand the places, including hidden gems around them, or even connect with individuals with like-minded interests.

NLB is launching the geo-based prototype online and at a number of public libraries in Q1 2024.


StoryGen uses Generative AI to transform stories in text form into a visual and multimedia experience. Users can exercise their creativity to present well-loved stories in their own ways. For example, they can see a scene of the boy and the garfish in Sejarah Melayu come alive through images generated through AI, or take it further and present it in another genre like sci-fi. This product can be an immersive experience that visitors can go through. NLB will launch the prototype at a public library in 2024.

Please refer to the Annex for the draft mock-ups of the ChatBook and Glue prototypes.


NLB’s Chief Executive Officer Ng Cher Pong said: “We are pushing on with new ways of connecting with our patrons, and transforming how our content can be better discovered and experienced. Tech continues to be a key enabler in reshaping the future of libraries and archives. We welcome more like-minded partners to join us in experimenting and trying out more ways for everyone to read, learn and discover in meaningful and enriching ways.”



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 28 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 in 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, and NLB’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube channels.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Hoe I Yune 
Weber Shandwick 
Tel: 9324 2061

Quah Jia Ling 
Weber Shandwick 
Tel: 9699 0830 

Mock-ups of ChatBook and Glue Prototypes

[Note: The mock-ups are subject to further iterations and actual interfaces would differ.]