New two-storey library opens at Bedok; Govt seeks to consult public on digital publication deposits

A tree-shaped structure in the new Bedok Public Library located at Heartbeat@Bedok.
A tree-shaped structure in the new Bedok Public Library located at Heartbeat@Bedok.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - As digital publishing grows more popular, the need to collect and preserve works that appear only online or in non-physical forms, such as e-books and e-journals, becomes more urgent. 

This is why the Government is looking into ways to ensure that digital content published and produced in Singapore are archived and made accessible.

For starters, the National Library Board (NLB) will be holding public consultations to look into legislative amendments to the National Library Board Act to expand its scope to include such content.

Announcing this at the opening of Bedok Public Library on Saturday (Oct 28), Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said such a move is to ensure future generations have access to digital media that is part of Singapore’s history and culture. 

Currently, under the National Library Board Act’s legal deposit scheme, publishers have to deposit two copies of physical media published in Singapore, which includes items like books, maps, posters and music scores. The public consultation, which will run from Nov 13 - Dec 13, aims to see how this can be extended to digital media, such as e-books and e-magazines that exist only in digital formats. 

Dr Yaacob was speaking at the newly-opened Bedok Public Library at Heartbeat@Bedok, following the closure of the previous library in Bedok on Aug 20. About 12,000 visitors turned up at the library's opening.

It is the fourth library to be opened this year following a revamp or relocation, making 2017 the year with the most library openings to date.

Previous libraries which have opened this year include the ones at Sengkang, Bukit Panjang and Tampines.

The new, two-storey Bedok library has a collection of about 200,000 books, 300 magazine titles and 13,000 audio-visual items.

Book shelves that resemble snails, lampshades with motifs of butterflies, bees and ladybugs greet at the children's section of the Bedok Public Library located at Heartbeat@bedok. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY FOR THE STRAITS TIMES 

It also has senior-friendly features, such as touchscreen-enabled computers with e-newspapers, books with large font, and an electronic magnifier device that can enlarge text from pages placed on it.

Retiree Nordin Tahir, 71, said such features make it easier for him to read the travel books he enjoys reading.

The ex-finance administrator and Bedok resident, who frequents the library every two days for two to three hours, said: "Now, I don't even have to take my reading glasses out, it's so much more convenient."

The Bedok library sits at the community hub of HeartBeat@Bedok, which contains other communal facilities, such as the Kampong Chai Chee Community Club, sports facilities and swimming pools.

Housewife Lili Chen, 43, dropped by with her eight-year-old son Javier after his swimming lessons at Heartbeat@Bedok as he wanted to look for his favourite books.

"It's at a convenient location, there are the pools upstairs, a hawker centre nearby, and now the library. It's also nice and big and bright," she said.