Raffles Library (1945-1960)



The Raffles Museum and Library reopened to the public at the end of 1945, after three and a half years of Japanese Occupation in Singapore. While there are discrepancies over the actual date of the re-opening, it is certain the library had opened by 5 December 1945.1 In the post-war years between 1945 and 1960, the library went through several changes of administration, separated from the museum, and moved to a new building.2

Leadership
On 6 September 1945, Lieutenant-Colonel G. Archey, Superintendent of Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives in the British Military Administration (BMA), assumed directorship of the Raffles Library. He organised the task of returning abandoned publications collected during the Japanese Occupation. He left on 7 March 1946 and former curator, M. W. F. Tweedie, assumed Archey’s position and completed this task at the end of 1946.3


Louise E. Bridges was appointed to manage the library in March 1951. She was the first qualified librarian to have been hired since 1935. During her term, she successfully implemented a new system where overdue charges of five cents per day per book were imposed. She also introduced a new classification method called the Dewey Classification System. When she left in August 1952, her position was filled by temporary librarians, Joan Green (Mrs) and G. F. W. Hudson (Mrs).4

The permanent position was finally filled on 8 September 1954 when L. M. Harrod, the former chief librarian and curator of Islington Public Libraries and author of three books on libraries, was recruited. He became the director of Raffles Library on 1 January 1955 when the administration of the library and museum separated. Harrod was specially appointed to oversee the establishment of a new public library and a system of libraries for Singapore. During his leadership, the library began acquiring books in the vernacular languages of Chinese, Malay and Tamil. It also implemented the Browne system of issuing books and introduced one combined receipt for subscriptions and deposits. Harrod also conceived a method of interchanging books among the branches to ensure that varied selection of titles were available. He retired in January 1960.5

Timeline
End 1945: Raffles Museum and Library reopens to the public.6
14 Jan 1946: Junior Library reopens.7

11 Aug 1949:
Raffles Library becomes one of the worldwide networks of depository for United Nations publications except for mimeographed material, due to staff shortage and spatial constraints.8

15 Oct 1950: The library reopens on Sundays to the public, but closes on Mondays.9
21 Apr 1953: The library opening on Sundays is discontinued and opening hours are changed to 8.30 am–8 pm on weekdays.
29 Dec 1953: Colonial Secretary W. A. C. Goode officiates the first branch of Raffles Library, located on Lim Ah Pin Road off Upper Serangoon Road, at the Social Welfare Centre.10
1 Jul 1954: A second branch library opens at the Siglap social welfare centre.11
1 Jan 1955: The administration of the Raffles Library is transferred from the Director of the Raffles Museum and Library, to the Librarian of the Raffles Library. The library becomes responsible for the Government Archives and for books deposited under the Printers and Publishers Ordinance.12
1956: The library starts acquiring music scores and by 1 January 1957, music scores become available for loan.13
24 Nov 1956: The first branch library housing mainly Chinese books and under the director of social welfare, is established within a community centre in Yio Chu Kang Village.14

Raffles National Library
In 1953, the Lee Foundation, established by rubber tycoon Lee Kong Chian, donated a sum of $375,000 to establish a free public library. The library would represent the languages and cultures of Singapore and would be open to all, regardless of gender, race, class and religion. The new library was to be located at Stamford Road to the south of the Raffles Museum.15 Lee laid the foundation stone of the new building on 16 August 1957.16

On 1 April 1958, the Raffles Library was renamed Raffles National Library, after the Raffles National Library Ordinance came into effect.17

On 12 November 1960, Yusof bin Ishak, the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, officially opened the new Raffles National Library building located at Stamford Road.18 On 9 December of the same year, the library was officially renamed the National Library.19



Author

Heirwin Mohd Nasir



References
1. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 92–93. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); Raffles Library. (1945, December 5). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 86–120. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB])
3. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 91–92. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB])
4. Raffles Museum and Library. (1952). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library for the year 1951 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 12; Raffles Museum and Library. (1953). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library for the year 1952 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 13. (Call no.: RRARE 027.55957 RAF); Raffles Museum and Library. (1955). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library 1953 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1; New Raffles Librarian due next week. (1954, September 4). The Singapore Free Press, p. 5; Library buys 300 new books a month. (1953, December 4). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 102–104, 114. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); Raffles Library and Museum. (1955). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library 1954 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 12; Raffles Library and Museum. (1956). Report of the Raffles Museum 1955 [Microfilm no.: NL 9548]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1; Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1955 [Microfilm no.: NL 9548]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1–3; Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1956 [Microfilm no.: NL 9548]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1.
6. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 92–93. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); Raffles Library. (1945, December 5). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 93. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); Junior Library reopens. (1946, January 4). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 98. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB])
9. Raffles Library and Museum. (1951). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library for the year 1950 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printers Office, p. 15.
10. Raffles Library and Museum. (1955). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library 1953 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 10; Welfare centres. (1953, December 31). The Straits Times, p. 6; Libraries for rural areas: First set up. (1954, January 6). The Singapore Free Press, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Raffles Library and Musuem. (1955). Report of the Raffles Museum and Library 1954 [Microfilm no.: NL 5723]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 12; Branch library opens July 1. (1954, June 23). The Straits Times, p. 7; Siglap Library. (1954, June 25). The Singapore Free Press, p. 2; Now Siglap gets library. (1954, June 23). The Singapore Free Press, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1955 [Microfiche: MFC NL0045/024]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 4.
13. Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1956 [Microfiche: MFC NL0045/024]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1.
14. Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1956 [Microfiche: MFC NL0045/024]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 4.
15. Harrod, L. M. (1957). Raffles Library annual report 1955 [Microfiche: MFC NL0045/024]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1; $1 million free library will be built next year. (1953, July 30). The Straits Times, p. 8; Library gift – a spur to officialdom. (1953, August 14). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 100–103. (Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB])
16. Harrod, L. M. (1958). Raffles Library annual report 1957 [Microfiche: MFC NL0045/024]. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1–2.
17. Singapore. (1959). 1957 Supplement to the laws of Singapore. Raffles National Library Ordinance 1957 (Ord. 31 of 1957). Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SIN-[HWE])
18. Cultural awakening. (1960, November 13). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Singapore. (1960). 1960 Supplement to the laws of Singapore. Raffles National Library (Change of Name) Ordinance 1960 (Ord. 66 of 1960). Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SIN-[HWE]) 



The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history on the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings>>Libraries
Libraries--Singapore
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