L. M. Harrod

Leonard Montague Harrod (b. 21 May 1905, Horsham, England–d. 12 March 19841), commonly referred to as L. M. Harrod, was appointed Librarian of the Raffles Library on 8 September 1954, and then its director from January 1955 to December 1959. A qualified librarian,2 Harrod contributed greatly to the development of the library system, the planning, and progress of the Raffles Library. He was formerly the Chief Librarian and Curator of Islington Public Libraries, and was the pioneer of Singapore’s then new public library.3

Harrod was educated at Rutlish School, Merton, Surrey, and the School of Librarianship, University College, London.4

1923–24: Wimbledon Public Library.5
1924–26: Fulham Public Library.
1926–37: Croydon Public Library.
1937–40: Borough Librarian, Mitcham Public Library.
1940–54: Chief Librarian and Curator, Islington Public Libraries.
8 Sep 1954: Librarian, Raffles Library.
Jan 1955–Dec 1959: Director, Raffles National Library (formerly Raffles Library).6
1960–61: Librarian, John Liang R. & D.7
1961: Librarian, City of Westminster College.8
1961–69: Lecturer-in-charge of Overseas Librarians, North-Western Polytechnic, London.9

1951: The libraries of Greater London10
1957: Books for young people: Group 3: Fourteen to seventeen: annotated and classified11 
1959: The Librarian’s glossary of terms used in librarianship and the book crafts and reference books (2nd ed.)12

Membership in associations
Society of Indexers13 

When Harrod was librarian of the Raffles Library (1954) and later director of Raffles National Library (1955–59), the library did not yet have its own building but occupied the western wing of the Raffles Museum adjoining Fort Canning Road, while the Junior Library was in the adjacent wing with a separate entrance. Harrod was specially appointed for the establishment of a free Public Library system of libraries for the colony, as well as to promote plans for the new library.14 During his tenure, Harrod made a considerable amount of progress in enhancing the library’s collection.15

Contributions to the Raffles Library 
Browne System and combined receipts
Harrod instituted a number of improvements to make the library more productive. The two main changes were the introduction of the Browne System of issuing books and the usage of a combined receipt for subscriptions and deposits. The usage of a combined receipt for subscriptions and deposits replaced the need for eight forms of receipts which were previously in use.16

Library services
Harrod initiated his blueprint for setting up the following: a comprehensive children’s section; library branches in the more populated suburbs as part of the library’s decentralisation policy; and an information bureau to cater to personal, telephone and written enquiries. He intended the new public library to be the best in Southeast Asia. It was this great enthusiasm for his work that led to the transfer of the administration of the Raffles Library from the Director of Raffles Library and Museum, to the Librarian of the Raffles Library.17

Promotion of local languages
In preparation for the free public library, Harrod worked hard to restore balance to the subjects and linguistic representation of the existing book stock, purchasing nearly 14,000 reference books in Chinese for $13,600. Later, books and newspapers in all four languages, as well as music scores, were also purchased.18

To promote local languages, a branch library stocking mainly Chinese books was opened on 24 November 1956 in the Yio Chu Kang Community Centre, under the directorship of Social Welfare. This was initiated when a bulk gift of books, received by the principal of one of the village schools, was handed to the Raffles Library to administer. Additionally, Harrod initiated a novel project to translate children’s books in English into the other official languages. This project involved library staff writing Chinese, Malay and Tamil captions next to or under the original text in children’s books. The project culminated in a Boys’ and Girls’ Week held from 26 October to 1 November 1959, during which Chinese, Malay and English children’s books were exhibited.19

Publicity efforts
Harrod publicised the library’s facilities by establishing a booth at the Colony-wide Health Week Exhibition, which was held at the Happy World amusement park in November 1955. To increase the usage of branch libraries, he sent out publicity pamphlets and letters of invitation to residents of Siglap and Upper Serangoon. He also created a method of interchanging books between branch libraries so that all new acquisitions formed a central book stock. This ensured that readers enjoyed a varied selection of reading material, and reduced clutter in the limited space available at individual branch libraries.20

Raffles Library ranked as “national” library
By 1 October 1955, the Raffles Library was ready to take over the management of the Joo Chiat Community Library, which had been run by volunteers. In 1955, two significant developments took place. The Raffles Library became a depositing and controlling authority for the government archives, and began to observe the Printers and Publishers Ordinance more stringently. In view of its responsibilities in relation to these two functions, the Raffles Library was ranked as a “national” library for Singapore.21

In January 1957, the library’s bulletin was issued for the first time. It disseminated valuable information about library developments.22 In 1959, with a fully responsible Parliamentary government replacing the colonial bureaucracy, the library had evolved from a national institution by law, to being a symbol for national identification and solidarity. In line with this, the library made some changes in administration and content. It purchased more non-fiction books about science, mathematics, agriculture and husbandry to meet the technical requirements of an industrialising society and a greater decentralisation of library facilities. Together with this came a rapid Malayanisation of the staff. Two staff members also received government scholarships to obtain professional library qualifications at Northwestern Polytechnic in London.23

New library building
Harrod, together with a British architect from the Public Works Department, designed the National Library Building at Stamford Road.24 Although the new building was criticised for its harsh red-brick exterior, and described as being “out of character”, “forbidding”, and “intimidating”,25 it was acknowledged that its 101,500 sq ft of floor area was a great expansion compared to the old library, which was approximately one-quarter of its size. Harrod’s foresight in providing for the five floors of stack area was also acknowledged.26


Harrod retired from his directorship in January 1960.27

Zaubidah Mohamed

1. J. L. Thornton, “Obituary: Leonard Montague Harrod,” The Indexer: Journal of the Society of Indexers 14, no. 2 (October 1984)
2. Thomas Landau, ed., Who’s Who in Librarianship and Information Science (London: Abelard-Schuman, 1972), 129 (Call no. RCLOS 020.92 WHO); K. K. Seet, A Place for the People (Singapore: Times Book International, 1983), 102 (Call no. RSING 027.55957 SEE-[LIB]); Raffles Library and Museum, Annual Report 1954 (Singapore: Government Printing Office, 1955), 1, 12 (Call no. 027.55957 RAF; microfilm NL5723); Hedwig Anuar, “The National Library of Singapore 1958–1983,” Singapore Libraries 13, (1983), 10. (Call no. RSING 020.5 SL)
3. Seet, Place for the People, 102–04, 114; Raffles Library and Museum, Annual Report 1954, 1, 12.
4. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.” 
5. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.” 
6. “New Raffles Librarian Due Next Week,” Singapore Free Press, 4 September 1954, 5 (From NewspaperSG); Hedwig Anuar, “The National Library of Singapore 1958–1983,” Singapore Libraries Bulletin 13 (1983), 10 (Call no. RSING 020.5 SL); Seet, Place for the People, 102.
7. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.”
8. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.” 
9. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.” 
10. L. M. Harrod, The Libraries of Greater London (n. p.: Bell, 1951).  (Call no. RCLOS 021.009421 HAR-[DIR])
11. L. M. Harrod, Books for Young People: Group 3: Fourteen to Seventeen : Annotated and Classified (London: Library Association, 1957).  (Call no. RCLOS 028.52 LIB-[LIB])
12. L. M. Harrod, L. M. (1959). The librarians’ Glossary: Terms Used in Librarianship and the Book Crafts (n.p.: Grafton, 1959). (Call no. RCLOS 020.14 HAR-[LIB])
13. Thornton, “Leonard Montague Harrod.”
14. Seet, Place for the People, 101–05; Raffles Library and Museum, Annual Report 1954, 1, 12; Hedwig, “National Library of Singapore 1958–1983,” 4–5
15. Seet, Place for the People, 102–05, 114.
16. Seet, Place for the People, 102–03.
17. Seet, Place for the People, 102; “Our New Library - Best in S. E. Asia,” Straits Times, 24 September 1954, 5; “Know-How Goes On the Phone,” Straits Times, 28 October 1954, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Seet, Place for the People, 103, 107.
19. Seet, Place for the People, 107, 114–15; State of Singapore Annual Report 1959 (Singapore: Government Printing Office. 1959), 204. (Call no. RCLOS 959.57 SIN)
20. Seet, Place for the People, 104–05.
21. National Library (Singapore), Raffles Library Annual Report 1955 (Singapore: National Library, 1956), 4 (Call no. RRARE 027.55957 RLSAR; microfilm NL9548); Seet, Place for the People, 105.
22. Seet, Place for the People, 109.
23. National Library (Singapore), Raffles Library Annual Report 1957 (Singapore: National Library, 1958), 1 (Call no. RRARE 027.55957 RLSAR; microfilm NL9548); Seet, Place for the People, 112–14.
24. Hedwig, “National Library of Singapore 1958–1983,” 5.
25. Seet, Place for the People, 115.
26. Hedwig, “National Library of Singapore 1958–1983,” 5.
27. Seet, Place for the People, 114.

The information in this article is valid as at September 2019 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.

L. M. Harrod, 1905-?
Library directors--Singapore--Biography