Community libraries

by Wong, Heng

Community Libraries are administered by the National Library Board to provide library services in the HDB heartland and town centres of Singapore. All the community libraries are situated close to the homes and offices of people so as to help them avail its services easily. Community libraries are located in "stand-alone" buildings of their own; in shopping malls; and in other buildings.

Stand-Alone Community Libraries
These libraries are located in stand-alone buildings of their own. These libraries were formerly known as "Branch Libraries" of the National Library. They were renamed "Community Libraries" when the National Library became a Statutory Board on 1 September 1995. There are presently eight stand-alone community libraries in Singapore (as of 31 December 2002).

Name of Library and Date of Official Opening
Central Community Library, 12 November 1960.
Queenstown Community Library, 30 April 1970.
Toa Payoh Community Library, 7 February 1974.
Bukit Merah Community Library, 28 December 1982.
Ang Mo Kio Community Library, 17 August 1985.
Bedok Community Library, 28 September 1985.
Geylang East Community, Library 26 July 1988.
Jurong East Community, Library 1 August 1988.

The Central Lending Library however, is housed on the ground level of the National Library building at 91 Stamford Road. All the other buildings are two to three storied and were specifically designed for library use by architects from the Public Works Department with inputs from Building Briefs prepared by Library Building Committees of Librarians appointed by the Director of the National Library.

Each of these community libraries are designed to serve a population of 250,000. It is managed by a qualified and experienced librarian as "Head of the Branch" assisted by staff pool consisting of librarians, library officers and library assistants.

Stand-alone community libraries provide the following services: adult lending library for the use of adults and young people; an adult reference library; and an audiovisual reference library where users can view videos, cd-roms and Teletext or listen to music on the premises. The libraries also include a children's library with a lending collection, a children's reference collection and a story-telling room. The adult reference library and the children's library are also equipped with information desks manned by librarians or library officers to answer enquiries from users. These community libraries actively organise library programmes, book displays and exhibitions at their Auditorium/Lecture Halls to promote reading in the community.

Shopping Mall Community Libraries
NLB established new community libraries in shopping malls from 1 September 1995 onwards. Each of these community libraries have an area of between 1,200 to 2,300 square metres. There are presently nine such libraries in Singapore (as of 31 December 2002).

Name of Library Shopping Mall and Date of Official Opening
Jurong West Community Library, Jurong Point, 22 March 1996.
Choa Chu Kang Community Library, Lot One Shopper's Mall, 22 February 1997.
Cheng San Community Library, NTUC Hougang Mall, 6 March 1997.
Bukit Panjang Community Library, Bukit Panjang Plaza, 4 April 1998.
Bukit Batok Community Library, West Mall, 21 November 1998.
Library@Orchard, Ngee Ann City, 21 October 1999.
Sembawang Community Library, Sun Plaza, 11 August 2000.
Pasir Ris Community Library, White Sands, 6 October 2000.
Sengkang Community Library, Compass Point, 30 November 2002.

Shopping mall community libraries provide library services similar to those of the older ones with a proportionate reduction in the quantum delivered. The services provided are loaning of books/magazines for adults, young people and children, self-check stations for book borrowing, loans status, and payment of fines, and book drops for the return of books.

Users can also use the multimedia stations to access internet and view cd-roms. The libraries are also equipped with a small collection of Reference books and a Customer's Service Counter to register members and answer enquiries from users. At the Library@Orchard, located in the Podium Block, Ngee Ann City, Orchard Road, a Programme Zone is provided for activities and even entertainment in a library environment, together with a 149 square metre cafe for users to enjoy some refreshments. There is no Children's Library service at this Community Library.

Unlike the larger community libraries, libraries located in shopping malls do not have a Reference Desk.Various library programmes are actively organised. More community libraries will be established in the near future to cater to the needs of the community.

Community Libraries Located in Other Buildings
Apart from being located in stand-alone buildings and shopping malls, community libraries are also located in other buildings. The Yishun Community Library is located in a town council building; The Marine Parade Community Library* is located in the Marine Parade Community Complex and the Library@Esplanade is located within the Esplanade -Theatres on the Bay.

Name of Library, Location and Date of Official Opening
Marine Parade Community Library, Marine Parade Community Building, 28 May 2000.
Yishun Community Library, Sembawang Town Council, 26 February 1998.
Library@esplanade, Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, 12 September 2002.

*Marine Parade Community Library used to be a stand-alone library since its opening on 10 November 1978. It later moved to its new premises in the Marine Parade Community Complex and was officially opened on 28 May 2000.

Heng Wong & Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

Seet, K. K. (1983). A place for the people. Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 027.55957 SEE)

National Library. (1963 -1995). Annual report. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RCLOS 027.55957 RLSAR)

National Library Board. (1997). Annual report. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 027.05957 SNLB)

National Library Board. (2001). Our libraries. Retrieved February 2, 2003, from 

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.

Public libraries--Singapore

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