Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Libraries in Singapore

One of the many things I fell in love with in Singapore is its library system.

I used to be a book-worm during school days. It was quite difficult for me to balance between various activities when I d a book at hand, I had to finish it! So, during times when I needed to devote my time to more important things, I would take care not to start reading new books.

When I was 7-15, I used to read mostly, magazines and newspapers, from 16-~20, it was predominantly fiction. And then, I guess there was a short break to my voracious reading habit. Thanks to the public libraries here in Singapore, I've again started back on reading, but now its moderated and my readings are diversified, I don't read only fiction these days.

Almost all neighborhoods in Singapore have a library, either public libraries, or bigger regional libraries. The national library at Bugis is the biggest one. The value the library adds to the life of the residents is quite remarkable. For citizens and Permanent residents, the library membership is free(with a small joining fee, though). You pay a yearly premium only if you opt for premium membership, with which you could borrow audio-visual material apart from books.

Apart from the fundamental idea of the libraries, i.e. borrowing from a huge collection of books, I find the atmosphere at the libraries itself to be quite a nice experience.

A typical scene at the library:
The floor at ground level would house the 'Kids' section, wherein you can see toddlers to primary school children in various levels of their "reading habits", some getting introduced to the whole amazing world of books, some having a parent reading aloud to them, some browsing through the colorful illustrations in the books, some listening to a voluntary story-teller. I would say that's a nice way for kids to start reading from a young age.

All across the library you could spot school kids doing their home-work, assignments, projects, with a pile of reference books in front of them, some on desks and some squatting on floors. Access to so much material is really a catalyst to independent reading and research.

Every library has one activity or the other going on all the time. The last time I went to Jurong East Regional Library, I saw this campaign to collect old spectacles, in order to donate to less fortunate people around the world who cannot afford spectacles. I've seen friends and relatives discard spectacles for switching to cooler frames or contact lenses, this sounds like a sensible way to put your old specs to use than stashing it away in an old drawer.

I've seen families coming to library, like some family outing. Being someone who loves books, all this seems quite enchanting.

One downside about libraries here(rather, any place in Singapore), they are way too cold. The aircon temperature is set very low, you definitely need a sweater or a jacket if you intend to stay longer.

To sum up, I love libraries in Singapore. For that matter, I would love libraries anywhere in the world, if they are well-maintained, well-stocked, and provide a stimulating environment to read.


ram kakarala said...

Good description. When compared to the USA, the S'pore libraries are much more serious in atmosphere. At my local library in Pioneer North, there are so many kids studying that it feels a bit odd to check out a novel just for fun reading.

AruneM said...

So you love the libraries?
Book worm !!
Your hubby loves outdoors ?
Earth worm !!

Anonymous said...

bookworm!!!earthworm!!!what a combo!!!