SINGAPORE - Library users no longer need to wait for the school holidays to borrow twice as many books than usual.
From April 1, the National Library Board (NLB) will let them take out twice as many physical books, bringing the total to 32, including 16 e-books. Each book can be kept for up to 21 days.
Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, announced the increase in Parliament on Monday (March 4), during the debate on her ministry's budget.
Previously, users could borrow only eight physical books and 16 e-books. During school holidays, the loan quota for physical books was 16.
Ms Sim said the change was to meet rising demand from users, adding that the library's e-book loans have more than doubled since 2017.
Ms Nabilah Abdul Karim, 33, who is self-employed, welcomes the increased quota. She used to be frustrated at having to often go back and forth from the library to take out more books.
"The increased number of books means I can also get more books for other family members at a go," said the mother of two.
Ms Sim also said, in response to Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang), that the NLB will increase accessibility to its learning resources.
It is partnering bodies such as SkillsFuture Singapore, Workforce Singapore and the Council for Third Age to run job- and skills-related programmes for Singaporeans. In the next five years, the NLB aims to run 1,500 workshops for more than 50,000 participants, she added.
Library volunteer Noorjahan Kamaruddin is among those who have benefited from such courses. The 58-year-old, who works part-time in customer service, attended the workshop Silver Digital Creators held by the NLB and the Info-communications Media Development Authority last year.
"I love books," said Ms Noorjahan. "I also love to bake. It was my dream to put my recipes into a book someday."
At the course last year, she learnt about electronic publishing, copyright, privacy and cyber-security matters, and eventually created an e-book with 12 of her recipes. She now helps train seniors in such courses.
During the debate, Ms Sim also highlighted the library's community efforts like WondeRead, which was started last year to deliver used library books quarterly to less-privileged children without the means to visit libraries.
She added that the recent slew of revamped libraries have generated 50 per cent more loans and an increase of around 65 per cent in visitorship compared with their counterparts that have not been revamped.
The newest of these libraries is library @ harbourfront, which opened in January this year at VivoCity mall.