'Tourist mall' is no place for a community library

I am happy to see that public libraries are being redesigned and relocated to encourage Singaporeans to read more (Moving libraries to where the crowds are; July 2).

However, I am puzzled by the decision to move Bukit Merah Public Library to VivoCity.

It makes sense to move libraries to malls like Clementi Mall, Bukit Panjang Plaza and Bedok Hub, as these are near residential communities and schools.

In contrast, there are no schools or HDB housing estates near VivoCity. It is also not a transport hub, with Harbourfront MRT station being at the end of the Circle and North East lines.

Strictly speaking, VivoCity is a "tourist" mall, patronised by visitors and tourists going to Sentosa and nearby islands on ferries and cruises. They are unlikely to borrow books.

While locals do visit the mall for meals or shopping, finding a parking space there on weekends is a challenge. I am not sure parents will enjoy driving their family there just to borrow a few books.

Comparatively, Bukit Merah Public Library is a functioning community library surrounded by Gan Eng Seng Primary School, Bukit Merah Secondary School, Henderson Secondary School and Zhangde Primary School.

It is also within walking distance to Bukit Merah Central, Bukit Merah bus interchange, and the Bukit Merah and Tiong Bahru residential estates.

If the National Library Board must relocate a public library in the area, it makes more sense to relocate Queenstown Library, nostalgia notwithstanding, as it is not very accessible by bus, has no carpark, and no residential flats, hawker centre, mall or bus interchange nearby.

Alexander Yap Yuk Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2017, with the headline ''Tourist mall' is no place for a community library'. Print Edition | Subscribe