Visitorship and loans growing
Visits, loans and usage across the National Library Board’s (NLB) collections, programmes and exhibitions continue to grow towards pre-pandemic levels. In particular, there was a sharp increase in visitorship to NLB’s libraries and archives in 2022 compared to 2021. In 2022, NLB also saw positive public responses to its initiatives rolled out under its LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025), including the Nodes at offices, parks and malls, as well as more digital content through its various channels.
The key findings are:
Growing number of visitors: Across NLB’s network of 29 libraries, the National Library, the National Archives of Singapore, and the Former Ford Factory, total visitorship in 2022 rose by 5 million to 16.5 million. This was notwithstanding that two public libraries were closed for renovations during 2022 (i.e. Central Public Library and Marine Parade Public Library).
Book loans up in both print and digital formats: Total book loans in 2022 was 38.6 million, an increase of 0.7 million from 2021. Digital loans totalled 13 million, a 0.5 million increase from 2021. Physical loans grew by 0.2 million to reach 25.6 million.
Digital usage: E-books, e-databases and other e-resources accessible via NLB’s website and NLB Mobile app continue to be popular, with usage growing by 2.1 million to 82.7 million in 2022.
NLB’s programmes and exhibitions continued to draw strong interest from the public: NLB’s nearly 18,000 programmes and 16 exhibitions drew 2.04 million participants in 2022, a 0.62 million increase from 2021.
Strong customer satisfaction with libraries and archives: Customers were asked to rate their satisfaction with NLB’s services on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being extremely dissatisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied. NLB achieved an overall score of 8.3, which can be seen as positively exceeding patrons’ expectations.
Positive response to Nodes (New figure for 2022): There were 1.62 million visitors to Nodes at more than 20 locations across Singapore in 2022. Nodes was launched in 2021 under NLB’s LAB25. Its aim is to bring NLB’s resources to people wherever they are, as they can simply scan a QR code at the location to access the material.
NLB’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Cher Pong, said: “NLB’s programmes and resources continue to be sought after by our patrons, even as the easing of COVID-19 measures opened up more options for learning and leisure. We will continue to ramp up our efforts to make our materials more accessible across various channels, as part of our omni-channel strategy to meet the evolving needs of our patrons. As we roll out new initiatives and embark on new pilots under LAB25 in the coming year, we welcome the public to continue sharing their feedback with us as these will help to shape the future of libraries and archives in Singapore.”
LAB25, launched in November 2021, invites partners and the community to reimagine libraries and archives of the future. NLB has since launched several initiatives guided by its four pillars – building a Learning Marketplace, nurturing an Informed Citizenry, encouraging Singapore Storytellers, as well as being an Equaliser. These were the LAB25 initiatives rolled out or scaled up in 2022:
In 2022, NLB expanded Nodes through a partnership with BreadTalk, bringing NLB’s food-related resources and content to eateries around Singapore. NLB also launched Nodes at Parks in October 2022, roving installations across parks and gardens that served as a gateway to NLB’s e-resources on sustainability. These Nodes brought NLB’s resources closer to the community, at public spaces outside the physical walls of libraries.
Following a successful pilot, The Little Book Box service became a mainstream service in January 2022 and complements NLB’s wide range of reading services and offerings. The service delivers a set of curated books to children to either their home or a locker near their home. More than 100,000 books were delivered on loan through The Little Book Box service in 2022. NLB will grow its delivery services in the coming year, and more details will be shared when ready.
In April 2022, NLB launched Tamil Cholai at Woodlands Regional Library, which now houses the largest Tamil literary collection in Singapore. NLB also launched the Bioethics Corner at the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library in October 2022. These dedicated collections offer patrons more learning resources in a wide range of subject matters.
As of 2022, NLB had supported more than 100 LearnX Communities. These ground-up communities brought together more than 5,000 people who participated in some 200 programmes and activities ranging from book clubs, ukelele jamming, chatbot creation, and digital arts. NLB also piloted the Great Makeover Project, a community co-solutioning initiative where participants could propose ways to transform spaces within their communities to promote sustainable living. Their ideas went into a roving exhibition that reached nearly 100,000 library visitors.
NLB piloted a new self-checkout service “Grab-n-Go” in May 2022 at the National Library Building, enabling patrons to check out their books automatically as they exit through the gantries. NLB will build on this pilot to try new ways to transform its libraries into digital learning hubs and better serve Singaporeans.
NLB was the first public library in Asia Pacific to provide Udemy Business, a repository of online learning resources to NLB members. Access to Udemy Business platform allowed NLB members to pursue learning online from a broad range of topics as part of their library membership. As such, NLB members are able to learn and build their skills in many areas. It has been well received with 36,000 active users, and 3.5 million lectures completed in 2022.
Launched in November 2021, NLB’s Read to be SURE (RTBS) initiative encourages patrons to explore multiple perspectives on trending topics, such as gender equality and cryptocurrency, as part of the LAB25 goal to nurture an Informed Citizenry. By exploring multiple perspectives on these topics, readers and participants will benefit from a balanced and credible knowledge base. There have been close to 306,000 engagements, including pageviews on the RTBS website, programme attendance, and social media engagements.
In January 2022, NLB launched its Curiocity initiative, which included showcases, light installations, and interactive virtual treasure hunts, which aimed to inspire a greater appreciation of Singapore’s identity and heritage. The first run titled Curiocity: Places & Perspectives, took place from January to March 2022. This included a series of art installations along the Civic District and a showcase at the National Library Building, presented in partnership with the Light to Night Festival 2022. The latest run titled Curiocity Encounters: Singapore Night Festival 2022, was a collaboration with the National Heritage Board as part of the Singapore Night Festival, which ran from 19 to 27 August 2022. More than 180,000 visitors and participants have been engaged through this Curiocity initiative.
To promote the joy of reading and learning, NLB has increased the formats of content available to patrons, including sharing stories about its collection through original videos like “From Book to Cook” featuring heritage recipes and wartime food. These new formats have been well-received, with the original videos created by NLB attracting about 790,000 views. NLB’s multi-format e-resources have also been made available through KrisWorld, SIA’s in-flight entertainment system in a tie-up between NLB and the national carrier, since October 2022. New content is added every few months, including many Singapore stories to watch or listen to.
In 2022, NLB was conferred the Champions of Good Award by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, in recognition of its strong, unwavering corporate giving and partnership initiatives to build an enriching and vibrant learning community for all. NLB will continue to champion reading and discovery, build on and enhance our resources, programmes and initiatives, and create accessible, fulfilling learning experiences for everyone.
In terms of digital inclusion, NLB launched a new series of MakeIT Time of Your Life workshops in April 2022, to enable more seniors to tinker with emerging fabrication technologies like 3D printing, digital cutting and micro:bit coding. There were over 300 participants at these workshops, with positive feedback from seniors who said that the workshops allowed them to pick up a new tech skill. NLB also organised Tech Bazaar, an initiative for seniors to learn about new and emerging technologies through hands-on talks, workshops and tech showcases. Over two runs in 2022, including the first one being held as part of the Digital for Life festival, more than 4,000 seniors learned about Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, robotics and virtual and augmented reality.
NLB’s Year-in-Review 2022 infographic is in the Annex, or can be downloaded here.
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About the 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 29 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).
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