Get three books for free - if you promise to read

(Clockwise from right) Children enjoying a book on the NLB's "mini-Molly", one of two mini mobile libraries that will be open to the public at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and East Coast Park on Saturday.
Children enjoying a book on the NLB's "mini-Molly".PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD
(Clockwise from right) Children enjoying a book on the NLB's "mini-Molly", one of two mini mobile libraries that will be open to the public at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and East Coast Park on Saturday.
One of two mini mobile libraries that will be open to the public at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and East Coast Park on Saturday.PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD
(Clockwise from right) Children enjoying a book on the NLB's "mini-Molly", one of two mini mobile libraries that will be open to the public at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and East Coast Park on Saturday.
One of two mini mobile libraries that will be open to the public at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and East Coast Park on Saturday.PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

Those who sign online pledge can visit NLB's mini mobile libraries and get choice of books

Fewer people are borrowing books so, in a bid to encourage reading, the National Library Board (NLB) will be giving away books - to those who promise to read.

Those interested in getting their hands on these books can visit two mini mobile libraries this Saturday.

All they have to do is to sign an online pledge to read. In return, they will be given a choice of three books, previously from libraries here, from a range of genres spanning children's books to non-fiction.

On Saturday, these mini libraries - or vans packed with books - will be parked at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park from 8am to 11am, and at East Coast Park from 4pm to 7pm.

 

The giveaway is part of the National Reading Movement launched by the NLB to cultivate active reading habits in Singapore. About 10,000 books will be given out.

 

It is also in response to the NLB's borrowing records for last year, which showed that 32.5 million books were loaned from public libraries nationwide. This number pales in comparison with the 38.5 million books loaned in 2012 when borrowing was at its peak.

The decline in reading was also reflected in the first National Literary Reading and Writing Survey released in March this year. Over half of the 1,015 Singaporeans and permanent residents surveyed had not read a literary book between March 2014 and March last year.

Mr Kenneth Quek, deputy director of the National Book Development Council of Singapore, said that although he sees people reading on trains, reading for pleasure's sake might not be a habit for many. He said: "There are a lot of things that compete for our attention: television, movies, social media.

"With all these distractions, you first have to know the pleasure of reading before you become a regular reader."

There are, however, people who have not forgotten the joys of the written word.

Ms Ng Hongwen, a 23-year-old undergraduate, enjoys both literary works and online fan fiction, and said reading offers an escape from daily life. "Reading is enriching and, best of all, I don't have to pay for it. Library books are free," she said.

Mr Stanley Tan, acting director of public library services at NLB, said the book giveaway is aimed at helping people embark on a lifetime of reading. He added: "The idea is to introduce interesting reads to as many people as possible, in the most unexpected way.

"In the parks, we can reach out to families and encourage them to cultivate positive reading habits."

Miss Sivaranjini Sathiamoorthy, a 14-year-old NLB volunteer involved in the giveaway, said she and her team of 30 volunteers are excited to play a part in encouraging reading.

She said: "Books have been my passion since I was a child, and reading has always been a big part of my life. Reading also helps you gain general knowledge."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2016, with the headline 'Get three books for free - if you promise to read'. Print Edition | Subscribe