SINGAPORE: Four new libraries will be opened this year in Sengkang, Bukit Panjang, Tampines and Bedok, announced Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim in Parliament on Monday (Mar 6).
They will be designed to encourage collaboration, and promote reading and learning as an attractive lifestyle, he said.
For instance, at the Sengkang library, its new "Tween space" will offer flexible seating and fixtures to enable discussion and creative expression.
"There’s also interactive digital displays where you can browse recommended digital books and download them via NLB’s (National Library Board) mobile app," said Dr Yaacob.
At the much larger Bukit Panjang library, NLB will pilot a new immersive storytelling service for children aged four to 12. The stories they hear will be accompanied by sound effects, lights and interactive, visual projections.
For seniors, they can get together and plan their own programmes at the new Bedok library, and with training, service their own corner of the new library in Tampines.
“There will also be a second makers’ space and collaborative work spaces at the new Tampines Regional Library, for budding entrepreneurs and creative makers to come learn and experiment together. We had one in the West at Jurong, and now we will have another one in the East,” said Dr Yaacob, giving the House a preview of what's to come at the new facilities.
The minister spoke of the goal to evolve Singapore’s libraries to foster more face-to-face connections, even as technology is used to meet the learning needs of Singaporeans and their digital lifestyles.
“We want our libraries to inspire people from all walks of life to come together as a community - to learn together, learn from one another,” he said. “Ultimately, we want these new library spaces and programmes to spur our people toward a shared, community journey of lifelong learning.”
IMPROVING A CULTURE OF READING
Dr Yaacob also said the Government will explore more partnerships and collaborations to promote a culture of reading and learning in Singapore.
He cited an inaugural, nationwide study by NLB which found that 80 per cent of those surveyed read more than once a week, including books, magazines, and news reports online. However, those who read books more than once a week made up only 19 per cent and “most” did not find reading as stimulating as audio-visual content.
“NLB will seek more partnerships to encourage adults to read more and read widely,” he said. “For example, NLB will work with an informal group of SME owners called the Bosses Network, to run a business acumen series conducted in Chinese. Established business owners will share their knowledge and favourite reads.”
Dr Yaacob said there are also efforts to continue to build a love of reading in children. A nationwide reading programme called KidsRead will offer a new curriculum with more customised activities for different reading levels, as well as "home activity packs that parents and guardians can use to read together with their children”.
“This will not only help in building bonds, but also sustain their interest in reading,” Dr Yaacob added.
“I hope that through our efforts in 2017, more Singaporeans will remember never to stop reading and learning,” he said. “Our NLB libraries will continue to play key roles in helping us do that.”