Opening Address by Mr Ng Cher Pong, Chief Executive Officer of the National Library Board, at the 2023 Singapore Book Awards Prize Giving Ceremony on 6 September 2023, at the Pod, National Library Building

President of the Singapore Book Publishers Association, 
Mr Edmund Wee and 
Distinguished guests

1.         Thank you for inviting me to join you today at the 2023 Singapore Book Awards. Stories have the power to inspire change and reshape the world we live in. And today, we celebrate those who have dedicated themselves to this craft, recognising the best books by some of Singapore’s exceptional storytellers and publishers.

2.         The deep passion of everyone in this room – writers, publishers and readers – for books and reading, is very palpable, and it is energising to be in this company. At the National Library Board (NLB), we want to encourage this passion for books and reading to be spread to all in the community. I am so heartened by the close collaboration between NLB and Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA) to bring more local books and stories to everyone. 

3.         One of the goals for us at NLB is encouraging and supporting the creation and appreciation of our Singapore Storytellers. The stories and books we see today represent our culture and history. They capture the uniquely Singaporean experience that allows readers to understand and discover more of what makes our little red dot so remarkable and exceptional. 

4.         This is where the power of partnerships contributes to the power of storytelling. Our vibrant literary landscape would not be what it is today without partners like SBPA. We have been working closely together over the years to promote Singapore literature across both physical and digital platforms, to enhance our country’s reading ecosystem. For this year’s book awards, NLB supported SBPA on book displays and social media engagement. Our Chief Librarian and Chief Innovation Officer Gene Tan is also one of the judges at this year’s awards, as he was last year.

5.         Over the years, our collaborations have expanded. Earlier this year, NLB organised sharing sessions and library tours to support SBPA’s Internship Programme, to nurture future talents in our publishing scene. Last year, SBPA launched the Singapore BookData database for locally published books, where NLB helped by contributing publicly-available data from our catalogue to build the database of over 200,000 books in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. This helped to enhance the Mother Tongue Language resources within our community of local writers and publishers.

6.         We look forward very much to continued collaborations with SBPA to expand the range of collaborations and the literary industry as a whole, including individual publishers, writers and illustrators. Much has been done together so far, but there is still a lot more we can do together. 

7.         I know many of you here are anxious and patiently waiting to find out if your work will be awarded in the respective categories, including the coveted title of Book of the Year. I shall not keep you in suspense for much longer and would conclude by thanking each of you for being the prolific Singapore Storyteller that you are. I wish you the very best in your onward journey as creators of our Singapore Stories. Thank you very much.