North East residents share toys, books with community

Lee Siang Yu, four, (left) and his brother, Siang Hao, two, with their grandmother, Madam Ho Koon Foong, 61, in the play area of the toy library, while Lim Wee Yang, 16 (standing, in white) and Lai Zi Yang, 16, get help from mobile library assistant Nora
Lee Siang Yu, four, (left) and his brother, Siang Hao, two, with their grandmother, Madam Ho Koon Foong, 61, in the play area of the toy library, while Lim Wee Yang, 16 (standing, in white) and Lai Zi Yang, 16, get help from mobile library assistant Nora Mahmood, 53, to borrow books.PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

They can borrow books from 54 kiosks and play in toy library under two CDC programmes

Residents in the North East District have been leaving their old books and toys - some stored in luggage - at the Tampines office of the North East Community Development Council (CDC).

But, far from using the CDC as a dump, they are powering two initiatives: Share Your Books @ NorthEast and the North East Toy Library.

These projects take books and toys closer to residents through "libraries" set up at community clubs and residents' committee centres. Although started by the CDC, residents have kept them going and helped to expand them.

After the CDC called for second-hand books early this year, many residents donated their old books.

Over eight months, more than 22,000 books were collected.

This has helped to expand the book-sharing programme, which was started in July 2012 with just one library kiosk in Sengkang CC, to 54 across the district now.

Each kiosk has more than 300 books on various topics, including teenage and adult fiction, and self-improvement, and the books can be borrowed for three days at a time. The kiosks are typically open daily from 10am to 9pm.

On the average, 250 books are borrowed from each kiosk monthly.

Retiree Ho Koon Foong, 61, who lives in Edgefield Plains in Punggol, usually goes to a kiosk at the Punggol Meridian RC centre, which is a few minutes' walk away, to borrow Chinese magazines or books .

"It's so much more convenient than going to a public library because that would mean having to take the the LRT or bus," she said.

Ms Serene Tan, project manager of Share Your Books @ NorthEast, said: "The response has been very encouraging, and we hope that we will be able to further increase the number of mobile libraries to 74 next year ."

In July, the CDC decided to build on the success of the book programme and started the North East Toy Library at Punggol Meridian RC centre. It is open from 4pm to 9pm on weekdays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. It provides a cabinet full of games and toys such as Twister, Snakes and Ladders, and Lego, and a mat on which children can sit and play with the items. The toys are also cleaned daily.

"Through this programme, we would like to inculcate the value of sharing among the children from young," said Ms Joey Ang, project manager of the North East Toy Library.

The initiative, which will be launched officially tomorrow by Acting Minister for Education and MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol Ng Chee Meng, is already getting 10 to 20 visitors a day.

Housewife Tang Wei, 32, takes her daughter to the toy library almost daily.

She said: "Children get bored with their toys very quickly, so when I take her to the toy library, she gets excited playing with toys that she doesn't have at home."

Ms Tang added that it gives her 11/2-year-old girl a chance to build up her social skills too.

"She gets to play with other kids here; at home, it is just me and her."

•For information on Share Your Books @ NorthEast, visit: http://bit.ly/booksdrop

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2015, with the headline 'North East residents share toys, books with community'. Print Edition | Subscribe