8 Cool Things You Didn’t Know About Our Public Libraries

Published on 26 September 2017

In Singapore, our public libraries boast beautiful and inviting public spaces that are conducive for reading and learning. At the same time, they offer a range of (free!) information-related services to the public.

By Melanie Lee


The perfect quiet spot Libraries such as Bukit Panjang Public Library are conducive for reading and learning. (Photo: National Library Board)

The recently refurbished Bukit Panjang Public Library features Book Mountains, innovative shelving featuring a gradual ramp and varying shelf heights that allow browsers to look out to the rest of the library.  Meanwhile, [email protected] at orchardgateway is the first public library in Singapore to be built on the principles of Design Thinking. Its highlight? Tall, contoured shelves stocked with volumes on design, lifestyle and applied arts books. Also, don’t forget to check out the outdoor gardens at the Central Public Library on Victoria Street. Its Bamboo Garden houses 5,000 bricks from the former National Library at Stamford Road. There are also life-size bronze figures by Chong Fah Cheong featuring children in various reading poses.


Photo: National Library Board

With the NLB Mobile App, there’s no excuse to say you’re too busy to read. Free to download on iOS and Android mobile devices, this app lets you borrow eBooks and read them offline. It’s also a one-stop shop where you can keep track of your loans, register for library events, recommend new titles, and pay late fees. You can even bypass the borrowing stations, and take books out using the app’s barcode scanner function.


Photo: National Library Board

If you are researching topics related to Singapore’s heritage or history, you can contact librarians from the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library (National Library building, Levels 7-13) who can help identify print and electronic materials from relevant collections. Just write to [email protected] to ask for assistance.


Photo: National Library Board

PIXEL [email protected] is a collaboration between the National Library Board and Infocomm Media Development Authority. Located in Jurong Regional Library and Tampines Regional Library, the labs organise public workshops on robotics, drones and coding. You may also borrow their tools, such as 3D printers and microcontrollers, for on-site tinkering. For more information, visit their website.


Feel like you need to connect with other book-loving folk to share your love for stories? Some public libraries organise book clubs which hold regular meetings. For example, the Jurong West Public Library holds the Gathering Readers Book Club for children aged 10 to 15, while the Bukit Batok Public Library’s Heartlands Book Club explores literary classics like George Orwell’s 1984. For the full list of library book clubs, click here.


Did you know that you can view vintage 19th- and early 20th-century Singaporean and South-East Asian written works at BookSG (www.eresources.nlb.gov.sg/printheritage), a digitised version of the books and printed materials held in the National Library? If you want to view the actual material in person (there are over 8,700 items in this rare collection), write to the Deputy Director, Content & Services at [email protected].


Besides BookSG, the National Library Board also offers other databases to  members, such as NewspaperSG (a digital archive of Singapore’s newspapers dating back to 1831), Infopedia (short, encyclopedic articles on Singapore-related topics), PictureSG (over 30,000 images that chart the development of Singapore from 19th-century till today), and MusicSG (a digital archive of published Singaporean musical works including National Day songs, xinyao, and indie music). There’s even an ephemera collection, which organises flyers, brochures and pamphlets that provide a glimpse of Singapore’s past. Find out more.


Our libraries are committed to getting more Singaporeans to read more. A 2016 survey by the National Arts Council revealed that over half the respondents had not read a book in a year due to a lack of time and interest. The National Reading Movement was launched in 2016, and is a five-year campaign that aims to build a vibrant reading culture. A key programme is [email protected], where companies organise reading-related activities and an annual Read! Fest with author talks, film screenings, and book-related workshops.

Not yet a member of the National Library Board? Register for a Basic library membership using your SingPass, and you can use your
NRIC as your library card. Membership is free for Singaporeans, and $10.50 (one-time fee) for Permanent Residents. For children below 15 and foreigners, registration must be made at the libraries. Visit NLB’s website for more information.

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