NLB doubles loan period to 6 weeks

Extension applies to physical items in move to reduce frequency of readers visiting libraries

File photo taken in January last year of library@ harbourfront. The National Library Board says the new extensions will apply to all loans made until June 30. ST FILE PHOTO

Slow readers can now take a longer time with their books.

The National Library Board (NLB) has extended the loan period for physical items from three to six weeks, in order to reduce the need for frequent visits to the library during the coronavirus outbreak.

This will apply to all loans made between tomorrow and June 30, with a possible extension beyond that date if necessary.

If loaned items are not reserved by others, patrons can renew them for another six weeks for free.

Library@harbourfront regular Ri Chang, 29, says she is thrilled to hear about the loan extensions.

"I often borrow three or four books together and am not able to finish all of them by the end of the loan period," says Ms Chang, who works as an experience artist and designs in-person or digital interactive experiences. "This will make reading a lot less stressful and more leisurely."

The NLB is also bulking up its digital collection as more users hunker down at home.

This month, it added more than 600 popular children's titles, as well as new e-books by Singapore publishers.

Several publishers have also offered unlimited checkouts on their e-books during this period, which means more than one person can borrow the title at the same time.

These include classics such as Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Jane Austen's Pride And Prejudice.

The NLB now has more than 725,000 e-books and audiobooks in its collection, which can be accessed through the Libby app.

Digital loans now account for more than one in five of its total loans. From January to February this year, its digital loans rose by 9 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Meanwhile, due to increasing demand for reservation lockers, the NLB is shortening the pick-up period for reserved items from the current seven days to five from tomorrow onwards.

To help users through the Covid-19 outbreak, the library is releasing two learning packages on the NLB mobile app.

Each recommends a mix of physical books, e-books, articles, bite-size videos and podcasts.

The first package is pandemic-themed and covers instances of virus breakouts and pandemics in the past 100 years, with topics such as vaccination and public health in Singapore.

The second aims to help users deal with stress in this period and covers topics such as mindfulness, self-meditation and working from home effectively.

The eight-part packages will be released in instalments every Monday and Thursday over four weeks, for the first, and every Monday over eight weeks, for the second. The first parts were released yesterday.

The library has also moved several of its public programmes online, such as How To Fall In Love With Classics, a lecture series by poet and literary critic Gwee Li Sui, now conducted over video; and Tamil adult reading club Kavimaalai, which is now holding its monthly sessions over Facebook Live.

  • For more information about the NLB's services, go to To download the learning packages, go to

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2020, with the headline NLB doubles loan period to 6 weeks. Subscribe