A culinary studio and a 705m-long running track may not be facilities you would associate with a library.
But that is exactly what the new-look Tampines Regional Library boasts. When it opens its doors at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday, visitors will also find an indoor playground and makers labs equipped with a green screen and 3D printers. The library is spread over five floors of the community hub, which also houses a mall.
The library, previously located in Tampines Avenue 7, was closed on June 4 to facilitate the move to the hub, about an eight-minute walk from the MRT station.
Floor space has been increased by more than 70 per cent and there are enough seats for 886 people.
The library, which will be run by staff and volunteers, will also showcase the heritage and community of Tampines in a gallery. Developed by the National Heritage Board (NHB), the gallery will feature a permanent and a temporary exhibition, along with an activity space.
Debate over relocation of library to VivoCity
Much debate has been swirling around the relocation of Bukit Merah Public Library to shopping mall VivoCity.
In a letter to The Straits Times Forum page, Mr Chen Junyi said: "(The branch in VivoCity) will not be able to serve as a replacement to the community in Bukit Merah.
"The library is a vital resource, with study areas for students from the nearby neighbourhood schools. Many of these students are from lower- income families. It is not feasible for them to go to the library at VivoCity, where they will need to take public transport and where food costs more."
Mr Alexander Yap Yuk Ken, in another letter, said: "I am puzzled by the decision to move Bukit Merah Public Library to VivoCity...
"There are no schools or HDB housing estates near VivoCity. It is also not a transport hub... Finding a parking space there on weekends is a challenge."
Ms Angeline Lee, 57, a retired teacher, said: "There are many disadvantaged families and marginalised elderly people living there (Bukit Merah). The library provides access to newspapers and reading material. It gives students who can't afford Wi-Fi at home a place for Internet connectivity."
In response, the National Library Board (NLB) said: "VivoCity has high visitorship and can help to attract new readers.
"We have worked closely with partners in the Bukit Merah community to ensure that residents continue to enjoy convenient access to reading materials and services.
"We will set up reading corners at various community clubs, senior activity centres and schools."
On deciding on a location, the NLB said: "(We) look at several factors, such as the development and plans for the surrounding area, demographics, visitorship and accessibility of the location.
"We want to ensure that as many people as possible can access our public libraries. This may sometimes involve moving our libraries to better locations."
Mr Alvin Tan, NHB's assistant chief executive (policy and community), said: "This co-location allows us to attract a different audience. People who may not usually be museum goers will be attracted... and this heavier footfall will allow us to reach a more diverse crowd."
Mr William Oh, 68, is one of those featured in the gallery.
The retiree, who has been living in Tampines for 30 years, said he is looking forward to being a regular user. "This new location will make it more convenient for me. It is near the mall and the MRT station."
Tampines Regional Library is the first of several public libraries to be relocated from a standalone location to a commercial space, said the National Library Board (NLB).
Bukit Merah Public Library will be moving to VivoCity next year, and Yishun Public Library will reopen at Northpoint City by the first quarter of 2018.
Thirteen of 26 NLB libraries are now located in malls and commercial spaces.
Ms Lynn Koh, senior manager of Tampines Regional Library, said she is expecting more visitors because of its location.
"Being in a mall, a popular place among Singaporeans, (the library) can attract more Singaporeans on their way home or back from work to visit," she said.
Mr Winfred Tan, 22, a university student who uses the library regularly, said: "The new library is actually a little more inconvenient for me because it is located further than the old one, but I will end up using it more because it is close to many other amenities."