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A library - more than books?

Choa Chu Kang library's closure for a 2-year revamp raises questions about role today

"In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned." So writes American author Susan Orlean in The Library Book, in which she uses a disastrous library fire to illustrate the role of libraries as community spaces and as the collective memory of a people.

The Unesco Public Library Manifesto, which was prepared with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, states that the public library is a "living force for education, culture and information, and as an essential agent for the fostering of peace and spiritual welfare through the minds of men and women".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2019, with the headline 'A library - more than books?'. Subscribe