Forum: Why a community needs a library

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

I am sorry that Tan Yi Shu deems me an ungrateful and unreasonable Third World-minded member of Singapore's citizenry in lamenting Choa Chu Kang's loss of its library (Temporary closure of library not the end of the world, Oct 16). Can I, at least in apology, correct some of his misconceptions?

He writes that "a library is unlike a grocer or wet market[OR]". If Mr Tan were a parent of young children or an elderly resident with limited means, he would not harp on this point. Libraries are full of books and books feed people. A local library is at least as important as a supermarket or a polyclinic. Book lovers will agree with me.

He describes alternative libraries being "mere minutes" away using "air-conditioned carriages". Not all Choa Chu Kang residents are within walking distance of MRT stations. Can all seniors or residents with small children afford to make regular return trips to neighbouring estate libraries?

His prescription that Singaporeans "need only visit the library once a month" makes me think of major poet Philip Larkin, who as a child would change his library books daily. But in Coventry, he had a library at the end of his street. The writer Samuel Butler said: "All my books are in the British Library." Where are the residents of Choa Chu Kang's books?

Mr Tan suggests that Choa Chu Kang residents don't even need a library. They can read online. I agree that they can, but it's nothing like, or as memorable as, reading a "real" book, as recent research has revealed.

Richard Angus Whitehead (Dr)