Mobile Library Services (1960-1991)
by Wong, Heng
Mobile Library Services were initiated by the National Library in 1960. This was mainly to ease the overwhelming demands made on its services at the main library building in Stamford Road whilst continuing to provide library services to more people.
All the 12 mobile library service points were located at Community Centres of the People's Association whose staff provided support and co-operation in maintaining the services. A modified van purchased in 1958 with UNESCO donation of US$2,000 and two trailers bought by the government, were used to provide the service. The first trailer was used in 1967 while the second was used in 1968. The service was operated by a Library Officer, a General Clerical Officer/Assistant and a driver. The bookstock in the mobile van/trailers was changed quarterly. The mobile library service was initially administered by the Library Extension Section, located in the basement of the National Library at Stamford Road. This was later moved to the Toa Payoh Branch Library in December 1973. Soon after, the mobile library service was reviewed and streamlined. The government approved plans to build more full time Branch Libraries which drew the final curtain for the mobile library services.
1960 : Mobile library services were started in September. More than 2,000 students in 35 rural schools utilised the mobile library services once a fortnight during term-time.
1964 - 1967 : Mobile library services at Tanjong Pagar and West Coast Community Centres established in July 1964. The third service point at Nee Soon Community Centre began on 26 May 1965. A fourth service point began in February 1966 at Bukit Panjang Community Centre. In 1967, six new mobile library service points were started at the Community Centres of Chong Pang (January), Kaki Bukit (February), Kampong Tengah (March), Bukit Timah (July), Changi 10 m.s. (October) and Paya Lebar (November). This was made possible by a New Zealand government grant of £$10,000 (S$85,000) which enabled the purchase of 23,519 books in 1966 for the mobile library service.
1968 : Daytime service point was established at Kampong Cheng San, Serangoon Garden Estate in March.
1969 : Daytime mobile library service established at Taman Jurong Community Centre in March. Initially it was located at the Jurong Town Primary School and was later shifted to Jurong Community Centre.
1971 : Service point at the Macpherson Community Centre opened on 26 June. Service point from Taman Jurong Community Centre was transferred here.
1972 : Kampong Cheng San service point was shifted to Serangoon Sports Club on 7 November.
1974 : Joo Chiat Part-time Branch was closed and a new mobile library service took its place on 1 June. Service points at Serangoon Garden Sports Club, Pasir Panjang Community Centre and Changi Community Centre were closed on 1 June. Readers using Serangoon Gardens Sports Club and the Changi Community Centre service points were referred to the Toa Payoh Branch Library and the Chai Chee Branch Library respectively. Bulk loan service was started at the Pasir Panjang Community Centre.
1976 : Service point at Bukit Timah Community Centre was closed on 21 June and its 2,627 members were transferred to Bukit Panjang service point. Tenth mobile library service was officially opened on 17 September by Lee Yiok Seng, MP for Bukit Panjang Constituency at Woodlands.
1978 : Punggol mobile library service point was opened on 30 November at Punggol Community Centre by MP for Punggol Constituency, Ng Kah Ting. Joo Chiat mobile library service was closed on 1 November. Its members were transferred to the Marine Parade Branch which opened on 10 November.
1979 : Tampines service point was opened by Phua Bah Lee, Senior Parliament Secretary (Defence) and MP for Tampines Constituency on 9 January 1979.
1981 : Kaki Bukit and Paya Lebar mobile service points were closed. New service point in Ang Mo Kio New Town was opened on 12 June by MP, Lee Yock Suan.
1984 : Tampines service point shifted to Changkat Community Centre on 26 June. The Kangkar service point shifted to Punggol Community Centre on 30 October.
1985 : Chong Pang service was closed on 18 March, followed by Ang Mo Kio service point on 19 July. Service point at Bukit Panjang shifted to Chua Chu Kang Community Centre on 22 April.
1986 : Kampong Tengah mobile library service point was closed on 4 July.
1988 : MacPherson service point closed on 9 June.
1991 : Remaining 6 mobile library service points at Chua Chu Kang, Nee Soon, Punggol, Changkat, Tanjong Pagar and Woodlands Community Centres were closed on 14 January.
Heng Wong & Thulaja Naidu
Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE)
National Library Board. (1963-1995). Annual Report. Singapore: National Library Board.
(Call no.: RCLOS 027.5557 RLSAR)
The information in this article is valid as at 1999 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.