New, revamped libraries cater to towns' make-up

Sengkang Public Library is the only library in Singapore to feature a dedicated area for "tweens" aged between 10 and 14.
Sengkang Public Library is the only library in Singapore to feature a dedicated area for "tweens" aged between 10 and 14.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

New and revamped libraries will customise their collections and facilities to match the demographics of the towns, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim.

"The first and most important thing is to make sure the library is utilised, and the library can only be utilised if you understand the needs of the residents," he said at the reopening of Sengkang Public Library.

For instance, the Sengkang Public Library has a dedicated "tween" space for those aged between 10 and 14, a feature which no other library in Singapore has. A National Library Board (NLB) spokesman said this was due to Sengkang's larger proportion of young families.

Bedok Public Library, slated to reopen within the last three months of this year, will have a dedicated area for seniors which includes large-print books that are easier to read. The NLB spokesman said it developed the concept of each library based on the area's demographic profile.

Following the induction of the Libraries of the Future Masterplan in 2015, NLB placed greater emphasis on active community engagement and customisation. Through initiatives such as increasing its number of focus groups, NLB gained a deeper and richer understanding of the needs of the demographic profile.



    Increase in floor area (now 2,141sq m)


    Increase in seating capacity (now 232 seats)

The Teens' Mezzanine at Pasir Ris Public Library, for instance, was introduced "as the population in the area has matured and there is a higher proportion of teens and working adults", noted the NLB spokesman.

Dr Yaacob said the upcoming Punggol library will cater to different groups, including university students. The new Singapore Institute of Technology campus is in Punggol.

The revamped Sengkang Public Library is 18 per cent larger and has 78 per cent more seating space. There are also 125,000 books there, more than half (60 per cent) of which are new, and 4,000 audio-visual items and 300 magazine titles.

Polytechnic lecturer Paul Davidson and his 10-year-old son Kyle, who live about a five-minute walk away from the library, were there yesterday. Mr Davidson, 49, said his family visits every time a new library opens to borrow new books. "I like being the first one to use a book... When a book is new, it's really nice and it has a fresh smell," he said.


Watch the snaking queue to get into the Sengkang Public Library.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'New, revamped libraries cater to towns' make-up'. Subscribe