Forum: Alternatives for 2-year shutdown of library not good enough

The interior of the mini-Molly bus.
The interior of the mini-Molly bus.PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

I appreciate the National Library Board's (NLB) reply concerning replacement provisions after Choa Chu Kang Public Library's closure (Alternative reading options near Choa Chu Kang Public Library, Oct 10).

Increased mobile library (Molly) visits, a reading corner, possibly more such reading corners to follow, and e-resources will assist residents somewhat through this long period of inconvenience.

True, there are neighbouring libraries, but while Bukit Batok Public Library is two MRT stops from Lot One Shoppers' Mall, Bukit Panjang Public Library is no less than six stops away on the LRT, and at least 30 minutes away by bus.

I therefore continue to doubt whether NLB's measures are anywhere near sufficient to meet the library needs of local residents.

Until June, Choa Chu Kang Public Library was a considerable public space that was filled morning, afternoon and night with scores of patrons, especially seniors and students as well as small children.

Daily, senior residents queued to ensure a library seat for access to free newspapers and to use IT resources for much of their day. Such a large, well-used and depended-upon community space cannot be and clearly has not been adequately replaced by one "Molly", one nearby reading corner or the mobile phone apps mentioned by NLB's Mr Ian Yap. I am unsure if senior citizens in Choa Chu Kang, dependent upon their library for computer access, are owners of smartphones.

Without consultation, the 175,000 or so residents of Choa Chu Kang have been suddenly deprived of a crucial media resource and community space, the only one of significance in the area.

Four months after closure, alternative provisions are either inadequate or yet to be rapidly implemented.

One would have thought that if the prolonged period of renovation cannot be sped up, surely an alternative space nearby could be utilised to serve as a temporary but much-needed media, social and reading space.

I am sure many would agree that two years is too long for a town to be deprived of anything resembling a library.

Angus Whitehead (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2019, with the headline 'Alternatives for 2-year shutdown of library not good enough'. Print Edition | Subscribe