National Library (1960-1995)



Between 1960 and 1995, the National Library expanded its collections and services. During this period, in its effort to bring information to the people, the library decentralised its services through the provision of mobile libraries and establishment of more branches in community centres and housing estates. Keeping abreast with technology, the library also embarked on a programme to computerise its loan services.1

Background
Since its establishment in 1958, the National Library has served as the country’s national and public library.2 It provides library materials and information for members of the public through its loan and reference services. As a national library, it functions as the legal deposit library that collects and receives copies of Singapore publications, as required by the Printers and Publishers Act.3


Collections
The National Library underwent an unprecedented expansion in 1963. A five-fold increase of the book budget during the period of 1962 to 1963 considerably strengthened its total collections, especially in the non-English languages.4

Throughout the years, the library also received many gifts and book donations from local as well as overseas donors. A gift of $10,000 from Datuk Lee Kong Chian was used to purchase Malay-, Chinese-, and Tamil-language books.5 Other noteworthy gifts were the Ya Yin Kwan collection from Tan Yeok Seong, and the Gibson-Hill collection of 1,000 books presented by Mrs Loke Yew in fulfilment of the intentions of her son, the late Dato Loke Wan Tho.6

Notable gifts from foreign donors included a set of the List of Lee Kong Chian Documents, donated by Tadao Harada in the 1978–79 financial year,7 and a publication entitled China’s Cultural Heritage: Rediscovering a Past of 7,000 Years, donated by the vice-president of the China International Book Trading Corporation in Beijing, in the 1994–95 financial year.8 The total number of volumes in the library grew from 174,000 in 1963 to over 3 million in 1995.9

Services
In 1967, the number of mobile library points grew to 10, as six more were added to bring libraries closer to the people.10 However, the mobile library service was slowly phased out over the years as more full-time branch services were established. By the end of the 1994–95 financial year, 10 full-time branches had been established.11

Library services were further expanded in 1991 when the National Library and its branches opened on Sundays as well. This was decided after an extensive six-month pilot project the previous year to gauge the public’s demand for library services on Sundays. The pilots were conducted in the Jurong East, Marine Parade and Toa Payoh branch libraries.12

In 1993, the National Library implemented the use of the new NRIC to borrow books. In the same year, public access to library holdings was further enhanced when the library launched an electronic link that allowed remote users to access its online catalogue (OPAC) from homes or offices.13

In keeping with new developments, a Library 2000 Review Committee was formed in 1992 to bring National Library services to a higher level through technology. Some of the recommendations made by the committee included converting the National Library into a statutory board, setting up a three-tier public library system, and implementing a network of borderless libraries that would link local and overseas libraries.14 The government accepted the committee’s report and the National Library became a statutory board in 1995.15 

Event highlights
1963: National Library Board publishes its first report covering the period from December 1960 to September 1963.16
1964: S. Rajaratnam, Minister for Culture, officially opens the South East Asia Room on 28 August and the Ya Yin Kwan Collection from Tan Yeok Seong, a Penang industrialist. A pilot mobile library service for community centres is started.17
1965: Hedwig Anuar is appointed director of the National Library. The Business, Scientific and Technical section of the Reference Division is opened.18
1966: The Young People’s Service is started. Book issuance exceeds one million for the first time on 13 December.19
1967: The Printers and Publishers (Amendment) Act 1967 is passed in November to provide for a reduction in the number of copies to be deposited from six to five, as well as a more timely and comprehensive deposit of materials by publishers. The changes were effected on 1 January 1968.20
1968: The National Library (Amendment) Act is passed in May to include the co-ordination of library resources in Singapore and the national planning of all types of library services.21
1969: First issue of Singapore National Bibliography, containing works printed or published in 1967, is released.22
1970: Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew officially opens the Queenstown Library, the first full-time branch library, on 30 April.23
1974: Tuan Haji Sha’ari bin Tadin, senior parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Culture, officially opens the Toa Payoh Library, the second full-time branch library, on 7 February.24
1977: Book collection exceeds one million volumes by the close of the April 1976–March 1977 financial year.25
1978: Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister of State (Finance) and Member of Parliament (MP) for Marine Parade, officially opens the Marine Parade Library on 10 November.26
1982: Lim Chee Onn, Minister without Portfolio and MP for Bukit Merah, officially opens the Bukit Merah Library on 28 December.27
1983: The Arts Resource Centre (ARC), which serves researchers interested in the fine arts, opens in January.28
1985: Yeo Toon Chai, MP for Ang Mo Kio Constituency, officially opens the Ang Mo Kio Community Library on 17 August. Professor S. Jayakumar, Minister for Home Affairs, Second Minister for Law and MP for Bedok, officially opens Bedok Community Library on 28 September.29
1993: Opening of the first Community Children’s Library (CCL) in Bukit Panjang on 3 June.30
1994: Library 2000 recommendations to achieve a world-class library are accepted by the government. Aline Wong (Dr), MP for Tampines GRC and Minister of State for Health and Education, officially opens Tampines Regional Library, Singapore’s first regional library, on 3 December.31
1995: Inauguration of the National Library Board as a statutory board on 1 September, to spearhead Library 2000.32 Tampines West CCL, Nee Soon East CCL and Thomson CCL open.33



Author

Muhamad Ashif Padili



References
1. Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 138–141. (Call no. RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); National Library Singapore. (1988). Annual report 1987/1988. Singapore: Author, p. 16. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); National Library Singapore. (1989). Annual report 1988/1989. Singapore: Author, p. 22. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
2. Singapore. 1957Supplement to the laws of Singapore. (1959). Raffles National Library Ordinance, 1957 (Ord. 31 of 1957). Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 498–502. (Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SIN-[HWE]); National Library Singapore. (1967). Annual report 1964. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
3. National Library Singapore. (1994). Annual report 93/94. Singapore: Author, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
4. National Library Singapore. (1966). Annual report 1963. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1–2. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
5. National Library Singapore. (1966). Annual report 1963. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
6. National Library Singapore. (1967). Annual report 1964. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); National Library Singapore. (1967).
Annual report 1965. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
7. National Library Singapore. (1979). Report for the period April 1978–March 1979. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
8. National Library Singapore. (1995). Annual report 94/95. Singapore: Author, p. 15. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
9. National Library Singapore. (1966). Annual report 1963. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); National Library Board. (1997). Inaugural annual report: Statistical summary. Retrieved 2016, November 21 from National Library Board website: http://www.nlb.gov.sg
10. National Library Singapore. (1969). Annual report 1967. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 14. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
11. National Library Singapore. (1995). Annual report 94/95. Singapore: Author, p. [Table 5]. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
12. Libraries open doors to Sunday readers. (1991, January 7). The Straits Times, p. 21; Sunday Library at 3 branches. (1990, March 30). The Straits Times, p. 33. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. National Library Singapore. (1994). Annual report 93/94. Singapore: Author, pp. 6, 17, 29. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
14. Library 2000 Review Committee. (1994). Library 2000: Investing in a learning nation: Report of the Library 2000 Review Committee. Singapore: SNP Publishers, pp. i, 19–25. (Call no.: RSING 027.05957 SIN-[LIB])
15. Singapore. Republic of Singapore. Parliamentary debates: Official report. (1995, March 1). Second reading of the National Library Bill (Vol. 64). Singapore: [s.n.], cols. 68–72. (Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN)
16. National Library Singapore. (1966). Annual report 1963. Singapore: Government Printing Office. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
17. National Library Singapore. (1967). Annual report 1964. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 5, 12. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 129. (Call no. RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB])
18. National Library Singapore. (1967). Annual report 1965. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 6, 12. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
19. National Library Singapore. (1968). Annual report 1966. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 6–7. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
20. National Library Singapore. (1969). Annual report 1967. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
21. National Library Singapore. (1970). Annual report 1968. Singapore: Government Printing Office, pp. 1, 5. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
22. National Library Singapore. (1970). Annual report 1969. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 4. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
23. National Library Singapore. (1971). Annual report 1970. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); Ministry of Culture. (1970, April 30). Address by the Prime Minister at the opening of the Queenstown Branch Library on Thursday, 30th April, 1970. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
24. National Library Singapore. (1975). Annual report 1974. Singapore: Government Printing Office, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
25. National Library Singapore. (1977). Report for the period April 1976–March 1977. Singapore: Author, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
26. Ministry of Culture. (1978, November 10). Speech by Mr Goh Chok Tong, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Member of Parliament for Marine Parade, at the opening of Marine Parade Branch Library, on Friday, 10 November 1978, at 6.30 p.m. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
27. Libraries to be built in Bedok and Ang Mo Kio. (1982, December 29). The Straits Times, p. 12; Jalil Miswardi. (1982, December 23). 12,000 sign up before opening of Bukit Merah branch library. Singapore Monitor, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. National Library Singapore. (1977). Report for the period FY 81 and FY 82. Singapore: Author, p. 9. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
29. National Library Singapore. (1977). Report for the period FY 85. Singapore: Author, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR]); Library opens. (1985, September 29). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; National Library Board. (2016, November 21). Ang Mo Kio Public Library. Retrieved 2016, November 21 from National Library Board website: http://www.nlb.gov.sg; National Library Board. (2016, November 21). Bedok Public Library. Retrieved 2016, November 21 from National Library Board website: http://www.nlb.gov.sg
30. National Library Singapore. (1994). Annual report 93/94. Singapore: Author, p. 6. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
31. Singapore. Republic of Singapore. Parliamentary debates: Official report. (1995, March 1). Second reading of the National Library Bill (Vol. 64). Singapore: [s.n.], cols. 68–72. (Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN); National Library Singapore. (1995). Annual report 94/95. Singapore: Author, pp. 4, 10. (Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR-[AR])
32. Republic of Singapore. Government gazette. Acts supplement. (1995, March 24). National Library Board Act 1995 (No. 5 of 1995). Singapore: [s.n.]. Retrieved 2016, November 21 from Singapore Statutes Online website: http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=CompId%3Ae881f200-f9e9-4cc4-b1c5-58f09aa40b9c;rec=0;resUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fstatutes.agc.gov.sg%2Faol%2Fbrowse%2FtitleResults.w3p%3Bletter%3DN%3Btype%3DactsPub
33. National Library Board. (1997). Inaugural annual report: Highlights. Retrieved 2016, November 21 from National Library Board website: http://www.nlb.gov.sg




The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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
National libraries--Singapore
Libraries
Law and government>>Culture and community>>Public libraries
Science and technology>>Library and information science>>Library and information services