Libraries also places where people can learn skills and share: Iswaran

People queueing to enter the new library@harbourfront, which was officially opened yesterday in VivoCity mall. Spanning 3,000 sq m, it is the biggest of 13 libraries located in a mall here.
People queueing to enter the new library@harbourfront, which was officially opened yesterday in VivoCity mall. Spanning 3,000 sq m, it is the biggest of 13 libraries located in a mall here.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Besides being places where people read and borrow books, public libraries can also be places where people gather to learn and share.

Library visitors can join programmes, pick up skills and even share their experiences with others.

This is an example of how libraries can stay relevant to the changing needs of Singaporeans, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran  said yesterday at the official opening of the library @ harbourfront in VivoCity.

He said that over the next year, library @ harbourfront, for instance, is expected to have more than 500 programmes, which will help participants learn new skills, including skills for the digital economy.

The National Library Board (NLB) is also broadening its channels to reach out to an increasingly digitalised society, through the use of features such as an NLB mobile app.

Efforts have also been made to bring the libraries closer to the people, whether in a shopping mall or integrated with community facilities or community centres.

SHARED EXPERIENCE

It is not about having a space with just books or lounges and so on. It is about students, children, parents, grandparents, coming together to enjoy the facilities, and having a shared experience in reading and learning.

MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION S. ISWARAN, on how libraries are about the people who use them.

"The idea is to bring our libraries closer to our people, so it is easier to spread the joy of reading, and enjoy learning together," said Mr Iswaran.

Such efforts have led to increased visitorship, for instance, at Tampines Regional Library, which has seen a growth of almost 400,000 visitors a year after the library's revamp and relocation to Our Tampines Hub. This trend is also being seen in the libraries in Sengkang, Bedok and Yishun, which are in malls, or community spaces alongside community clubs, sports facilities and polyclinics.

The new library @ harbourfront, the 26th public library here, offers sweeping views of Sentosa. Spanning 3,000 sq m, it is the biggest of 13 libraries located in a mall here.

It has a strong focus on digital technologies - its children's section has a space for young readers to tinker with technology, and there are six learning pods for adults to access digital content and resources to upgrade their skills.

Mr Iswaran said libraries are about the people who use them.

"It is not about having a space with just books or lounges and so on," he said. "It is about students, children, parents, grandparents, coming together to enjoy the facilities, and having a shared experience in reading and learning."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline 'Libraries also places where people can learn skills and share: Iswaran'. Print Edition | Subscribe