Jurong primary school to set up digital library

Primary 1 pupils Tan Si Min (left) and Freyann Lee En Qi at Corporation Primary's library. Having the books in the digital format means several pupils can read the same book at the same time.
Primary 1 pupils Tan Si Min (left) and Freyann Lee En Qi at Corporation Primary's library. Having the books in the digital format means several pupils can read the same book at the same time.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Corporation Primary's pupils will be able to read up to 5,000 e-books

Pupils from Corporation Primary will be among the first in Singapore to have an e-library of their own.

The school in Jurong West, which called for a tender last month, said its new digital library will be up by the end of this month.

Its lower primary pupils will soon be able to log in and read up to 5,000 fiction and non-fiction e-books online, on top of the 28,000 books already available in the school library. The pilot scheme may be extended to the rest of the pupils after a year.

The shift to digital libraries has already been gaining momentum nationally. The National Library Board's (NLB) e-books collection has grown to about 3.2 million titles, up from 10,000 when it first started the collection in 2001.

There were 8.2 million loans or views of e-books from April 2012 to March last year, almost double the 4.9 million loans or views made over the same period the year before, according to NLB.

Its spokesman said the board expects a similar increase this year. This trend comes even as fewer people visit libraries in their neighbourhoods. Eight million fewer visits were made in person to libraries between April 2012 and March last year, compared to the preceding period.

Corporation Primary is introducing an e-library to reach out to pupils who are more inclined to use technology, said principal Vimi Sambwani. "Pupils can access thousands of e-books any time and anywhere," she added. The e-books can be read on computers and smartphones and are accessible outside of the school.

Besides encouraging leisure reading, teachers will also be using the e-books in the classroom.

After a brainstorming session, the pupils will come up with their own stories, which will be "published" online so that others can read them.

Before the stories are made into e-books, their peers can come on board to edit the stories before they are added to the collection.

Having the books in the digital format means several pupils can read the same book at the same time, said Madam Vimi. Popular books in the school library are often snapped up by the early birds. The e-books will be classified according to reading ages, so that teachers can recommend books to the pupils based on their reading abilities.

Tan Si Min, a Primary 1 pupil at the school, is already excited about the new digital library. She borrows 11 books every week from the school library and the Jurong West Public Library, which is near her home. "I won't need to take a bus to the library any more and I can read books on my mother's cellphone before bedtime," said the six-year-old.

Ms Yvonne Liong, 38, who has a daughter in Primary 1 at Corporation Primary, is not entirely sold on e-books. "I previously didn't allow her to use the iPad or smartphones as its too glaring and the fonts are too small," said the businesswoman.

However, she said it may be time to expose her daughter to online content. "As long as I restrict the amount of time she spends on such devices, I see the value in having access to so many books."

jantai@sph.com.sg

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