National Library Board’s Year-in-Review 2023

About 8 in 10 residents reached via growing omni-channel offerings of programmes, services and spaces

In 2023, the National Library Board (NLB) continued to grow its omni-channel offerings beyond physical libraries and archives. This has contributed to a strong rebound in NLB’s reach, to surpass pre-pandemic levels. Positive responses were seen for NLB's LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025) initiatives, notably the opening of the fully inclusive Punggol Regional Library, and the expansion of NLB nodes network to over 100 sites across the island, enhancing accessibility to NLB resources.

The key findings are: 

1. Reach1 has surpassed pre-pandemic levels: NLB’s Reach has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, with about 8 in 10 residents (78 per cent for the period July 2022 to August 2023) having accessed NLB’s services, programmes and spaces. This positive response is encouraging as NLB continues to reimagine our libraries and archives to enhance reading, learning and discovery for everyone.   
2. Growing number of visitors: Across NLB’s network of 28 libraries, the National Library, the National Archives of Singapore, and the Former Ford Factory, total visitorship in 2023 rose by more than 3 million to 19.8 million. 
3. Strong customer satisfaction with libraries and archives: NLB continued to exceed patrons’ expectations, with an overall customer satisfaction score of 8.45. This was based on a survey where 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. 
4. Positive response to Nodes (New figure reported for 2023): There were 16.1 million visitors (up from 1.62 million the previous year) to Nodes at more than 100 locations across Singapore in 2023, including at transport hubs.
5. Decrease in book loans: Patrons made a total of 36.3 million loans across both physical and digital formats, more than a loan every second. Despite the slight decrease of 2.3 million from 2022, NLB will continue to work to expand and bring our resources closer to patrons through our omni-channel network.

NLB’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ng Cher Pong, said: “Over the past year, we have broke new ground by launching pilots such as the Comics Library, and rolling many ‘firsts’ in Punggol Regional Library, including numerous accessibility features there. We are greatly encouraged by the good response to our growing omni-channel offerings, which have opened up new ways for more patrons to discover, read and learn. As we continue to implement LAB25, we will work closely with partners and the community, taking in their feedback, to shape our libraries and archives of the future.” 

LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025)

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 2023:

1. Learning Marketplace 

Under the Libraries of the Future Masterplan, NLB will continue to transform physical libraries, refreshing service concepts and designs to remain relevant to citizens. 

a. The latest example of this is Punggol Regional Library that fully opened in April 2023. With facilities like Toy Library and Spark!LabTM, Punggol Regional Library has also become the most visited library in 2023.

b. Nodes are also expanding across Singapore in location and format, such as the experimental Grab-n-Go libraries with automated self-checkout systems. Manga Library@City Square Mall and Comics Library@Anchorpoint were both pop-up libraries launched in 2023, and saw more than 68,000 patrons visiting the spaces, and borrowing nearly 56,600 titles. The Manga Library operated from February to August, while Comics Library, which opened in September, will operate until September 2024. 

c. Since the pilot in shopping malls in 2021, NLB Nodes have expanded to food and beverage outlets, healthcare institutions, transport hubs, partner platforms, and parks. In 2023, Nodes have received an estimated 16.1 million visitors, up from 1.62 million the previous year. 

d. NLB offers LearnX, which is a suite of curated content and services across eight key Learning Focus Areas namely Digital, Sustainability, Careers, Arts, Singapore, Wellness, Science and Reading. Curated learning pathways provide opportunities to broaden or deepen one’s learning while LearnX Communities, supported by NLB, enables users to come together to leverage the power of social learning. One such community is the Chatbot LearnX community, which holds bootcamps where participants work in teams to create a chatbot that addresses real world problems.  

2. Informed Citizenry

a. Launched in 2013, S.U.R.E. (Source. Understand. Research. Evaluate.) is NLB’s flagship information literacy programme, which aims to build and strengthen our citizens’ resilience to misinformation and online falsehoods through training programmes, interactive activities and other multimodal content targeted at specific segments of society. In 2023, S.U.R.E. developed new courseware on information literacy, digital safety and digital wellness for schools, and delivered talks and content on generative AI—and its potential abuse by bad actors—to the public. 

b. Read to be S.U.R.E. aims to widen the public’s perspectives on trending topics, such as the World Cup and Metaverse, through a combination of curated reading content and programmes.

c. Launched in 2016, National Reading Movement (NRM) aims to nurture a vibrant reading culture among adults and seniors, urging residents to read more, read widely, and read together. In 2023, Read!Fest, a signature reading festival by NLB, attracted more than 510,000 participants. Through collaborations with partners, this movement aims to create delightful and unexpected reading and learning encounters for the public. In 2023, NLB worked with partners like Singapore Airlines to share our content on its in-flight entertainment system, the SingaporeAir app, and with Staytion at its various coworking spaces.

3. Singapore Storytellers 

a. The National Library Creative Residency invites creatives from different artistic disciplines to draw inspiration from the National Library and National Archives of Singapore’s collections. Two cycles of residency programmes have been completed, and the third round of residency is due to be completed in 2024.

b. The #SingaporeStorytellers Video Series aims to use innovative methods to tell stories of Singapore. Following the successful launch of three original video series in 2022, NLB has launched a new short video series called BiblioAsia Reels, a podcast called BiblioAsia+, and will launch a new season of From Book to Cook in 2024.

c. NLB also aims to make every library a Singapore Library, with Singapore-related features in the latest library revamps such as Singaporium in Punggol Regional Library.

d. Beyond showcasing the existing collection, NLB also aims to collect more Singapore content. This is done via platforms like Singapore Memories: Documenting Our Stories Together and collection partnerships with other organisations such as Urban Redevelopment Authority, National Heritage Board and National Arts Council.
4. Equaliser

a. ExperienceIT was developed in partnership with technology giants to allow patrons to experience emerging technologies in an accessible, non-intimidating environment, with the aim of sparking curiosity and building confidence to learn more. Since its launch in April 2023 at Punggol Regional Library, ExperienceIT activations have received over 30,000 visitors. 

b. Another new service being launched at the Punggol Regional Library is a suite of initiatives for Persons with Disabilities (PwD). These include the Accessible Membership, Accessible Collection, assistive technology and space design, and expanded programmes for PwDs.  

c. Patrons can also access NLB’s resources through alternative modes of service delivery. 

    • The Little Book Box is a subscription service for curated children’s books which offers doorstep and locker deliveries of both English and Mother Tongue books. As of November 2023, over 300,000 books have been delivered.

    • In June 2023, NLB launched “Borrow-n-Deliver", a new paid delivery service to meet the needs of time-strapped library patrons such as students and working adults, who have specific items that they’d like to borrow. Users of the service can get home deliveries of up to four selected books.

d. NLB reaches out to low-income children via kidsREAD, a nationwide reading programme aimed at cultivating the love of reading among children from less-privileged families. With the support of partner organisations, there are more than 170 kidsREAD clubs set up in community spaces and schools to engage participants in weekly story-related activities. As an extension of the kidsREAD programme, kidsREAD@Home is being piloted to provide eligible children with easier access to regular reading sessions with home visits and programmes held within their housing block.


1The NLB Reach Index measures the proportion of unique Singapore residents who have visited NLB’s libraries and archives and/or accessed NLB’s content through our programmes, exhibitions and services within a 12-month period. The Reach index is measured through a survey of 4,000 Singapore residents, representative of the resident population by age, sex, ethnicity, dwelling type and residence status. It takes into account all the different NLB physical and digital service points that Singapore residents have used.


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 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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NLB’s 2023 Year-in-Review Infographic