Bukit Merah library still a vital resource for the community

The National Library Board is right to say that VivoCity has high visitorship and is easily accessible via public transport, and that sometimes it is necessary to move libraries to fit into the changing human traffic patterns (Public libraries move as human traffic patterns change; July 13).

However, I doubt there is a meaningful link between the human traffic in Bukit Merah and that in VivoCity.

Many residents and businesses moved out of Bukit Merah Central after the Housing Board's main branch moved out in 2003, contributing to the drop in the number of visitors to the Bukit Merah library.

But VivoCity opened only in 2006.

A library branch in VivoCity would likely bring in visitors from the existing crowd there, but it will not be able to serve as a replacement to the community in Bukit Merah.

Even though the neighbourhood is quieter nowadays, the library is still located within a public housing community.

Parents and caregivers still take their children there after lessons at nearby tuition centres and the Sports Lifestyle Centre.

The library is a vital resource, with study areas for students from the nearby neighbourhood schools.

Many of these students are from lower-income families. It is not feasible for them to go to the library at VivoCity, where they will need to take public transport and where food costs more.

Furthermore, on weekends, VivoCity is very crowded, resulting in scarce parking spaces in its vicinity.

Visitors who currently drive to the Bukit Merah library on weekends, where parking is plentiful at nearby blocks, will be put off by the parking situation in VivoCity.

The National Library Board should think of the existing users who need the library more, and not just change to a new target segment in order to recapture the number of visitors.

If a move is necessary to improve the visitorship, it is better to relocate the library to the vicinity of Tiong Bahru MRT station instead.

This location is still convenient for the community currently being served by the library, and there is a good flow of human traffic.

Chen Junyi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'Bukit Merah library still a vital resource for the community'. Print Edition | Subscribe