Parliament: NLB to revamp 8 libraries, including Central, and open new Punggol Regional Library

An artist's impression of the new Punggol Regional Library, which will open in late 2021. PHOTO: NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD

SINGAPORE - The National Library Board (NLB) will revamp eight more libraries from now until 2026 and also build a new Punggol Regional Library with a more inclusive slant.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information, announced this in Parliament on Tuesday (March 3) during the debate on her ministry's budget.

Libraries, she said, play a key role in connecting people in the digital age and providing a sense of community. "They have transformed over the years to become trusted and treasured spaces where people can bond, socialise and learn."

The libraries to be revamped include Central Public Library in the Bras Basah area, which will be closed early next year for the revamp, which includes increasing the floor area from 3,900 sq m to 4,600 sq m.

Its new design concept will draw on the heritage and civic district it is located in and will also highlight uniquely Singaporean aspects such as local literature.

The others include Choa Chu Kang Public Library, which shut in June last year and will gain an additional floor when it reopens next year in Lot One shopping mall, Queenstown Public Library and Marine Parade Public Library. Another four will be announced after plans are firmed up.

Ms Sim noted, in response to a question about the future of libraries from Mr Cedric Foo (Pioneer), that NLB revamped six "next-generation" libraries between 2017 and 2019.

The most recent of these was library @ harbourfront, which opened in January last year and has a technology showcase and a makerspace where children aged three to nine can tinker.

The renovated library@harbourfront as seen on Jan 3, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

"The revamped libraries have seen an increase of 73 per cent in total visitors and 49 per cent in total loans in the first year of operation," she said. "Our libraries are an exception to the global trend of falling library usage."

The new Punggol Regional Library, which will open late next year at Punggol Town Hub, will offer users with disabilities and children with special needs customised services and calming zones.

It will also house a curated world children's literature collection. This, said Ms Sim, is so that "younger Singaporeans can appreciate cultural diversity from an early age".

NLB consulted stakeholders, including Punggol residents and an advisory panel for persons with disabilities, when designing the library.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said: "Our libraries epitomise the spirit of the SG Together movement, bringing our people, volunteers and partners together in a supportive learning environment."

Such partnerships, he added, form the model for the Libraries and Archives Plan (LAP25), NLB's plan for 2021 to 2025. Over the next few months, NLB will discuss its future strategies, collections and services with various communities, partners and stakeholders.

NLB expects to conduct an LAP25 public consultation in June this year and the full plan will be launched in September to coincide with NLB's 25th anniversary.

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