Speech by Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Chairman, National Library Board, Second Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, at 40th Anniversary Celebration of Queenstown Public Library, 30 April 2010, 2:35pm at Queenstown Public Library

Release Date : 30 Apr 2010

Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts,

Mr Baey Yam Keng, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC,

Board Members of the National Library Board,

Ms Ngian Lek Choh, Deputy Chief Executive, NLB,

Friends of the Library,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon and a very warm welcome to the 40th anniversary celebration of Queenstown Public Library.

Bringing Reading Resources Closer to the People

2. Exactly 40 years ago, on 30 April 1970, this library was officially opened by the then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. In his opening speech, Mr Lee described this library in Queenstown as “a milestone in our rising standards of life.”

3. Indeed, Queenstown Public Library set a precedent by being the first public library to be built in the Singapore heartlands. Back in the 1960s, books were expensive and not many Singaporeans could afford them. By building public libraries in the housing estates, NLB enhanced the quality of life for Singaporeans by bringing reading resources to their local community.

4. Queenstown Public Library proved to be popular with the residents from the start. Within the first year, more than 293,000 books were borrowed and close to 12,600 people registered as library members.

Catering to the Needs of the Community

5. This library has continued to renew itself as a conducive and accessible social space, with programmes that bring knowledge and discovery to the community. In 2003, Queenstown Library was closed for upgrading and officially re-opened on 31 October 2003. With that revamp, the library had new and improved facilities. A wheelchair-friendly ramp at the entrance of the library, a lift within the building, as well as toilets and self-help stations with lowered heights, to serve the needs of the elderly and the disabled.

6. The upgraded Queenstown Public Library adopted a unique inter-generational theme, 'iGEN@Queenstown'. In line with this theme, the library aims to bring together children, youths, adults and seniors, and provide them with opportunities to read, learn and interact with one another. And indeed, I can attest to the success of this effort as a visit to Queenstown Library was a regular part of my father's and son's weekly routine. It made for a strong inter-generational bond, between grandfather and grandson. And it gave them a sense of belonging to their local community. I am sure it did so for the community.

Queenstown Public Library Today

7. Today, Queenstown Public Library has a wide ranging collection of about 230,000 items, including both books and audio-visual materials. These resources serve residents of different ages in Queenstown as well as other housing estates in Tanjong Pagar GRC. The library has continued to gain popularity within the community. It has an annual visitorship of more than 990,000 patrons and makes about one million loans annually. We will continue to improve our collection and services for this community.

Celebrating 40 Years of Reaching Out to the Community

8. This afternoon's programme is put up in collaboration with our many partners in the community to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Queenstown Public Library. There is also an exhibition featuring photos of Queenstown Public Library over the years and a showcase of artwork by students of Queenstown Primary School which I know you will enjoy.

9. In addition, the library will be organising a series of special programmes, including storytelling sessions, reading activities and craft workshops over the next two months.

Appreciation and thanks

10. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Acting Minister Mr Lui Tuck Yew. Thank you for gracing today's event as the Guest-of-Honour. Your presence here today motivates all at NLB to constantly innovate so that library services better benefit the wider community.

11. I would also like to express my appreciation to Mr Baey Yam Keng for joining us today. We appreciate your great support for the Queenstown Public Library and our patrons.

12. I would like to also thank the partners and schools who have worked closely with us. With your collaboration, we are able to extend our reach and together, create new value for the community.

13. To the volunteers of the NLB, fondly known as 'Friends of the Library', I would like to express my deepest appreciation to all of you for your hard work and continuous support for the public libraries.

14. Lastly, I would like to thank the NLB staff, in particular those who have worked at Queenstown Public Library all through the years, for your professional and friendly services to the community all these years.

15. I wish all of you an enjoyable and memorable afternoon.

Thank you.