Forum: Temporary closure of library not the end of the world

Readers at the National Library.
Readers at the National Library.PHOTO: ST FILE

Dr Angus Whitehead needs to be more reasonable in his views on the temporary closure of Choa Chu Kang Public Library for renovation (Alternatives for 2-year shutdown of library not good enough, Oct 14).

Let's be clear - a library is unlike a grocer or wet market, where daily or weekly trips are needed.

It is also not a clinic that provides urgent treatment to sick people who cannot commute.

So having two other libraries that are two MRT and six LRT stops away - mere minutes of travel in air-conditioned carriages - are perfectly good alternatives.

Let's not make it sound like it involves traversing tall mountains or dense forests.

In fact, with the National Library Board allowing 16 books to be borrowed for up to six weeks, one need only visit the library once a month.

The library also isn't the only community space where people can gather. There are several community centres across Choa Chu Kang, as well as residents' corners and senior activity centres. Such places typically have newspapers for reading.

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, or in this case, change.

For those who have relied solely on physical books so far, perhaps it is a good time to try reading on a digital platform. I made the switch to the NLB Mobile app a few years ago and was truly amazed by how many books were, quite literally, available at my fingertips. My borrowing record has since skyrocketed.

It was reported that hundreds of public libraries have closed in Britain in recent years.

Yet, in Singapore, the number of libraries has been on the rise.

With the recent debate over how we are a First World country with Third World citizenry, we would do well to be a more grateful people able to tolerate mild inconveniences.

Tan Yi Shu

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Temporary closure of library not the end of the world'. Print Edition | Subscribe