Borrow twice as many physical library books from April 1

Ms Noorjahan Kamaruddin, a library volunteer, has made use of the NLB's digital resources to learn about e-book publishing to realise her dream of publishing a recipe book.
Ms Noorjahan Kamaruddin, a library volunteer, has made use of the NLB's digital resources to learn about e-book publishing to realise her dream of publishing a recipe book.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Library users no longer need to wait for the school holidays to borrow twice as many books.

From April 1, the National Library Board (NLB) will let them take out twice as many physical books, from eight at the moment to 16.

They will still be able to borrow 16 e-books, bringing the total number they can check out to 32. They can keep each book for up to 21 days.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, announced the increase in Parliament yesterday during the debate on her ministry's budget. Ms Sim said the change was to meet rising demand, 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 higher quota. She used to be frustrated at having to go back and forth from the library often to take out more books. "The increased number of books means I can also get more books for family members at one 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, 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 Silver Digital Creators workshop held by the NLB and the Infocomm Media Development Authority last year.

"I love books," said Ms Noorjahan. "And I also love to bake. It has been my dream to compile my recipes into a book some day."

At the course, she learnt about electronic publishing, copyright, privacy and cybersecurity matters, and eventually created an e-book with 12 of her recipes. She now helps train seniors in such courses.


Ms Sim also highlighted the library's community efforts such as 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 has generated 50 per cent more loans and a rise in visitorship of about 65 per cent, compared with their counterparts that have not been revamped.

The NLB has 26 public libraries, of which six are revamped. The latest is library@harbourfront, which opened in January this year at VivoCity mall.

The NLB will also increase public access to archive materials this bicentennial year through efforts like a mini-exhibition at the National Library Building that will be open to the public this weekend.

It displays 16 items, including a 1604 map of Singapura with recognisable names such as Tanamera (Tanah Merah) and Sunebodo (Sungei Bedok); an 1883 Chinese-Malay dictionary; and Munajathu Thirattu, the library's oldest Tamil book on Islamic religious poetry.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said at a media preview of the exhibition, held initially at Parliament House, that an awareness of Singapore's history is "important in establishing our own identity in a world where we have an onslaught of digital influences, understanding where we have come from and what has shaped our pathways".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Borrow twice as many physical library books from April 1'. Subscribe