Moving libraries to where the crowds are

The revamped Bukit Panjang Public Library, which underwent a 10-month renovation and reopened yesterday, has nearly doubled its floor space to 2,300 sq m. It is divided into two wings for younger and older visitors.
The revamped Bukit Panjang Public Library, which underwent a 10-month renovation and reopened yesterday, has nearly doubled its floor space to 2,300 sq m. It is divided into two wings for younger and older visitors.PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

They will be moved to malls, town hubs, and redesigned to spur more people to read

With more sources of entertainment competing with books for people's leisure time, public libraries are redesigning and relocating to encourage Singaporeans to read more as well as more widely.

Public libraries are set to become more easily accessible as they move to locations such as shopping malls and town hubs, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said yesterday.

The Bukit Merah Public Library will be moving to VivoCity next year as part of efforts to co-locate its libraries with other community facilities or malls near major transport nodes, the National Library Board said.

The Tampines Regional Library, which closed last month, will be reopening at Our Tampines Hub on Aug 5 with nearly double the space, while the Bedok Public Library will be closing on Aug 20 and reopening at Heartbeat@Bedok on Oct 28.

The Yishun Public Library will reopen at Northpoint City by the first quarter of next year.

"This is an effort on our part to ensure that libraries are easily accessible and meet the needs of the changing population demographic," Dr Yaacob said on the sidelines of the Bukit Panjang Public Library's reopening. The revamped library at Bukit Panjang Plaza, which underwent 10 months of renovation, has nearly doubled its floor space to 2,300 sq m and is divided into two wings for younger and older visitors.

The children's zone features a multimedia storytelling room that uses images and light and sound effects to create interactive storytelling sessions, while the adult and teen zones house discussion areas and a reading lounge.

The redesign of libraries to bring people together was highlighted by Dr Yaacob earlier this year as part of his ministry's plans to promote and sustain a vibrant reading culture. A national survey last year found that only one in five adults reads books more than once a week, with a tendency to spend more time on other activities like watching Web videos.

Bank executive Eric Chew, who visited the children's wing of the Bukit Panjang library with his wife and two daughters yesterday, said the space was much bigger and had a wider selection of books for kids.

"There's also more space to sit and read, and it's good that they're bringing technology into the books' space with the multimedia room," said Mr Chew, 37.

Housewife Joan Tan, 36, said: "I think it's good to have libraries in malls as I can do my shopping while my kids are there. I don't think I would travel too far just to go to the library."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 02, 2017, with the headline 'Moving libraries to where the crowds are'. Print Edition | Subscribe