Hedwig Anuar



Hedwig Elizabeth Anuar née Aroozoo (b. 19 November 1928, Johor Bahru, Malaysia–1) was the director of the National Library of Singapore from 1965 until her retirement in 1988. She has contributed a great deal in promoting, developing and shaping libraries in Singapore. Under her directorship, the National Library made tremendous progress, expanding the network of libraries and increasing its membership. Anuar is also a founding member of the National Book Development Council of Singapore (NBDCS) and the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE).

Early life and education
Born in Johor, Anuar is the second daughter of Eurasian parents – former school principal, Percival Frank Aroozoo, and housewife, Agnes Danker. She is a seventh-generation Eurasian of Portuguese descent. Anuar studied in a convent in Johor Bahru for three years before attending the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus on Victoria Street in 1937 after her family moved to Singapore.2


Anuar’s studies was disrupted by the Japanese military invasion. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), she stayed home to tend to her mother who was ill most of the time, as well as did housework and read books from her father’s library.3 The family made the acquaintance of Captain Matsumoto, a Japanese interpreter at the Young Men’s Christian Association, who was drawn to Marie’s (Anuar’s elder sister) piano music because he loved classical music. In return, he brought the family food such as rice and meat, which helped supplement the family’s diet of tapioca, potatoes and vegetables grown in the garden, and eggs from the chickens they reared.4

After the war, in 1947, Anuar entered Raffles College (renamed University of Malaya in 1949). She gave English lessons to Malayan women in classes run by the People’s Education Association and tutored a group of Malay university students to help defray the costs of her university education.5 She also participated in the student union and the Literary Dramatic and Debating Society.6 A literature major, Anuar graduated with a first-class honours degree in 1951.7 Failing to obtain the Queen’s Scholarship and secure a job in the administrative service, Anuar taught at her alma mater as a relief teacher for six months before joining the University of Malaya Library in 1952 as a library assistant.8

In 1955, Anuar went to London on a scholarship from the university library to pursue librarianship studies at the Northwestern Polytechnic School of Librarianship.9 There, she participated actively in the Malayan Students’ Union and the Malayan Forum, a group of students that came together to discuss Malayan’s political situation and current affairs.10 She also met Anuar Zainal Abidin in London,11 then a law student, and the couple got married there in 1957.12 After graduating that same year, she returned to Singapore to fulfil her bond, and gave birth to their son, Azmi.13

Anuar was sent to the University of Malaya’s Kuala Lumpur campus in 1959 to start a university library there, but was seconded to the National Library in Singapore the following year to serve as director for a year to supervise the move and setting up of the new National Library. The library was to relocate to a new building on Stamford Road.14 For the move, Anuar led a human chain of 50 staff to transfer books from the old library at the National Museum to the new premises nearby.15 After her contract ended in 1961, she left for London with her son to join her husband for six months, after being apart for four years.16 The separation had taken its toll and their marriage fell apart.17 Anuar then returned to Singapore, and delivered her daughter, Shirin.18

Career and contributions
Anuar was the assistant director for the National Library from 1962 to 1964, before assuming the role of director in 1965 – a position she remained in until 1988. For a decade, Anuar was also concurrently the director of the National Archives.19


Over more than two decades of her directorship, Anuar contributed greatly to the growth and development of the National Library, shaping the library system from infancy to become a network of libraries.20 In her quest to spread the reading habit amongst all, she and her team launched the Read More Books Campaign in the late 1950s, and introduced the mobile library service in 1960, which brought the library to 35 schools in rural districts.21

Realising that the library books catered only to children or adults, in 1966 she started the young people’s collection for teenagers.22 To promote the reading habit to the less educated, Anuar compiled and scripted a weekly magazine programme for Radio Singapore featuring extracts from books, reviews, general news and interesting happenings at the library.23 In 1987, she also spearheaded the library computerisation.24

Under her leadership, the library membership grew from 43,000 to more than 330,000 across nine libraries. For her contributions to the National Library, Anuar was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 1969.25

By the end of her career with the library in 1988, Anuar had published over 100 articles, conference papers, and reports in Singapore, Malaysian and other international journals.26 She has been published in the Blueprint for Public Library Development in Malaysia (1968),27 Libraries in Asia (1987)28 and Issues in Southeast Asian Librarianship: A Selection of Papers and Articles (1985).29 In 1998, AWARE published her autobiography, How I Became Aware.30

Retirement and other activities
In addition to her career with the National Library, Anuar was also a founding member of the Library Association of Singapore, Congress of Southeast Asian Librarians,31 AWARE and the NBDCS. In the latter, she served for over two decades variously as secretary, vice chairman and chairman.32 In honour of her contributions, the NBDCS named the Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award after her.33 Anuar was also a member of the British Library Association and the International Association of Orientalist Librarians, as well as a councillor of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.34

After her retirement, Anuar, who is passionate about women’s issues, also spent her time volunteering with AWARE. Anuar and a group of like-minded women formed AWARE in 1985, an association that aims to abolish discrimination against women and promote equal rights and opportunities. She had thought up the name for the association.35 At AWARE, Anuar set up the library and attended to the helpline that offers telephone counselling to women. She also helped raise funds, and was involved in regional forums, conferences and workshops.36 In 1989, Anuar established the literacy project, Women Learning English (WISH), to help women learn English.37

Timeline38
Education

1934–1936: Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Johor Bahru
1937–1941, 1946: Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, Singapore
1947–1950: Raffles College, Singapore
1950–1951: Graduates with first-class honours in English literature from University of Malaya, Singapore
1955–1957: Studies librarianship at Northwestern Polytechnic School of Librarianship, London

Career
1952–1955: Library Assistant, University of Malaya Library, Singapore

1956: Qualifies as Associate of the Library Association, United Kingdom
1957–1959: Library assistant, University of Malaya Library, Singapore
1958: Obtains Fellowship of the Library Association
1959–1960: Library assistant and then assistant librarian, University of Malaya Library, Kuala Lumpur
1960–1961: Director, National Library, Singapore (on secondment from University of Malaya Library)
1961–1962: Assistant librarian, University of Malaya Library, Kuala Lumpur
1962–1964: Assistant director (supernumerary), National Library, Singapore
21 May 1965–19 Nov 1988: Director, National Library, Singapore
7 Feb 1969–6 Feb 1978: Director, National Archives and Records Centre, Singapore

Awards
1969: Public Administration Medal (Gold)39
1988: Medal of Honour, Library Association of London40
1993: Woman of the Year, Her World41
2007: Library Association of Singapore Lifetime Contribution Award42


Family
Parents: Percival Frank Aroozoo and Agnes Danker

Siblings: Marie, Joyce, Eleanor, Edmund, Lydia, Hilary (died within a year)43
Children: Azmi and Shirin



Authors

Zaubidah Mohamed & Gladys Low



References
1. Chua, C. H. (Interviewer). (1999, January 26). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 002036/44/1, p. 1]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
2. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/1, pp. 1, 4, 7, 9–10]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Gan Eng Seng School names library after ex-principal. (1996, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/2, p. 24]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, p. 11. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
4. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Rrecording no. 001717/11/3, pp. 33–35]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
5. Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research. pp. 13–14. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
6. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/3, pp. 43–44]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/;
7. Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, pp. 14–15. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
8. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/3, p. 46]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, pp. 15, 17. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
9. Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU); Chua, J. C. H. (1998, July 21). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 002036/44/1, n.p.]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
10. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, p. 49]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

11. Her World Woman of the Year. (n.d.). 1993: Hedwig Anuar. Retrieved 2016, September 29 from Her World Woman of the Year website: http://womanoftheyear.herworldplus.com/1993-hedwig-anuar
12. Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU); Chua, J. C. H. (Interviewer). (1999, January 26). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 002036/44/21, p. 260]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
13. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, p. 52]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, p. 19. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
14. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, p. 53]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Librarian appointed. (1960, May 6). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3; Mrs. Anuar flies to join husband in London. (1961, July 8). The Singapore Free Press, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Lum, M. (1999, March 14). I couldn't forget bomb scare. The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, p. 53]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Mrs. Anuar flies to join husband in London (1961, July 8). The Singapore Free Press, p.1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Anuar, H. (1998). How I became aware. Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, pp. 20–21. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
18. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of recording no. 001717/11/4, p. 52]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
19. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, pp. 53–54]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

20. Tom, K. (2005, July 2). Makings of a modern classic. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Lee, P. (2007, November 1). First lady of books. The Straits Times, p. 62. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Chua, J. C. H. (1998, November 3). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of Mp3 Recording no. 002036/44/34, pp. 427–428]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
23. Lee, P. (2007, November 1). First lady of books. The Straits Times, p. 62. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Toh, S. (1988 October 1). Library head all set for new career. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Toh, S. (1988 October 1). Library head all set for new career. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26. Loh, A. (1989). Bibliography: Works by and about Hedwig Anuar, 1958–88. In S. Gopinathan & V. Barth (Eds.), The need to read: Essays in honour of Hedwig Anuar. Singapore: Festival of Books, pp. 1–13. (Call no.: RSING 020.95957 NEE)
27. Blueprint for public library development in Malaysia. (1968). Kuala Lumpur: Persatuan Perpustakaan Malaysia. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.4595 ANU)
28. Anuar, H., & Krzys, R. (1987). Libraries in Asia. New York: Marcel Dekker. (Call no.: RSEA 027.05 ANU)
29. Issues in Southeast Asian librarianship: A selection of papers and articles. (1985). Singapore: Information Publications; Gower England. (Call no.: RSING 021.00959 ANU)
30. How I became aware. (1998). Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
31. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/4, pp. 55–56]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
32. Council chief. (1980, April 6). The Straits Times, p. 5; Singaporeans’ reading habits now an open book. (1980, August 23). The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Who’s who in Singapore. (1981/82). Singapore: City Who’s Who, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 920. 05957 WWS)
33. Akshita Nanda (2010, May 16). Reads for kids. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; National Book Development Council of Singapore. (n.d.). Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award. Retrieved 2016, September 29 from the NBDCS website: http://bookcouncil.sg/awards/hedwig-anuar-childrens-book-award
34. Who’s who in Singapore. (1981/82). Singapore: City Who’s Who, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 920. 05957 WWS)
35. How I became aware. (1998). Singapore: Association of Women for Action and Research, pp. 26–27. (Call no.: RSING 305.42095957 ANU)
36. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1996, January 16). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of recording no. 001717/11/9, pp. 103–104]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
37. Leong, C. (1994, March 10). Daddy’s girl and proud of it. The New Paper, p. 12; Women’s English programme a wish come true for many. (1995, June 22). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
38. Who’s who in Singapore. (1981/82). Singapore: City Who’s Who, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 920. 05957 WWS)
39. Who’s who in Singapore. (1981/82). Singapore: City Who’s Who, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 920. 05957 WWS) 
40. Tan, J. (2005, December 14). Timeline: Hedwig Anuar. Today, p. 40. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
41. 1993: Hedwig Anuar. (n.d.). Retrieved from Her World Woman of the Year website: http://womanoftheyear.herworldplus.com/1993-hedwig-anuar
42. Singapore marks first Library Week. (2007, November 1). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
43. Lai, A. E. (Interviewer). (1995, November 28). Oral history interview with Hedwig Anuar [Transcript of MP3 Recording no. 001717/11/1, p. 7]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Gan Eng Seng School names library after ex-principal. (1996, July 21). The Straits Times, p. 27. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Hedwig Anuar: First lady of the National Library [Slide]. (1988). Singapore: National Library.
(Call no.: RSING 020.924 HED)

Hedwig Anuar: First lady of the National Library [Videotape]. (1988). Singapore: National Library.
(Call no.: RSING 020.924 HED -[LIB])

Hedwig Anuar is Woman of the Year. (1994, March 10). The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

In honour of a former librarian. (1990, February 7). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Lim, P. H. (1986). Hedwig Anuar. In R. Wedgeworth (Ed.), ALA world encyclopedia of library and information services. Chicago: American Library Association, pp. 50–51.
(Call no.: R 020.3 ALA -[LIB])

Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Time Books International, pp. 118–137.
(Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE)

Toh, S. (1988, November 20). Farewell of surprises as library legend Hedwig Anuar retires. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.




The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Library directors--Singapore--Biography
Community leaders
Science and technology>>Library and information science>>Library and information services
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
Law and government>>Culture and community>>Public libraries
National libraries--Singapore--Biography