Photo Reflections: Exploring the National Library Board of Singapore

As a student of Library and Information Science (LIS), my travels throughout Southeast Asia have seen several spikes in excitement. When I have had the opportunity to encounter non-American libraries, my mind has been blown. The pinnacle of this engagement occurred early on in the trip when visiting Singapore’s beautiful National Library Board. Essentially a Central Library megaplex, this fourteen-story hub of knowledge, reflection, and engagement was by far the coolest library I have ever been in. Why? Because it combined what I love about the stereotypical library (quiet rooms, people reading, and lots and lots of printed resources) with innovations in space, presented exhibits, and social interaction. I could write for days about this library, and I will do so, but not here. Here you will see a brief set of images showing off the highlights of the building.

First we have the library itself. With a combination of sleek contemporary design and old school office building design, the building manages to stand out just enough for praise, but also fit right in with the surroundings.

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In the main entryway you’ll notice a focus board for events (“happenings”), which also discusses exhibits within the building.


A clever informational sign from Circulation.


You may or may not be looking at a future librarian. Which one? I’m not sure. Also, I needed to get permission to take all these photos. It was pretty sweet having to say “I’m studying libraries” in order to get approval.


A socialist scheme? Strong government overdose? I’m not sure, but having this huge spread available in the entry to the library vaguely reminded me of Seattle’s Central Library, where they host free tax services to the public.


I think this is pretty self-explanatory. Oh, and it’s pretty outstanding community engagement. I’d obviously love to see the statistics of people who use e-books in the Singapore network . . . future research study, perhaps?


Obviously I had to visit the space for kids. What follows are what I discovered in the “My Tree House” room.

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Don’t you wish you had a Children’s Section like their’s?


I love seeing security signs that actually feature contemporary objects. Most places still feature the flip phone as a symbol of “cell phone” technology. And rarely do you see anything but a laptop to represent all other mobile devices.


Huge American Poetry collection. Check. Bonus points to anyone that can tell me what classification system is being used here (Hint: it’s what you would expect in a public library, and this number in particular might be inscribed on me as a tattoo when I get back to the USA.)


Read more about the Time of Your Life Initiative to see once again how Singapore takes it to the next level, in this case for older people.


Above: one of the many semi-outdoor reading areas in the library. Below, the same reading area, and all those people are statues. That way you never feel alone. Creepy or genius? Or both?

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Sartre allusion?


Above: a Paul Klee painting just hanging out among plenty of other cool paintings and photographs in a gallery. Below: I would have never expected to find “A Mini-Poetry-Anthology of Tan Swie Hian,” but there you go.


Pictures below are all related to the “Campaign City” themed exhibit, which delves into Singapore’s recent history. Exploring the many campaigns the city did to reform, shape, and/or control population behavior, “Campaign City” provides a rather unbiased look at those campaigns. I found this exhibit one of the most informative pieces on Singaporean culture of the few I experienced while visiting.

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Next: More Walking, More Eating, and More Seeing in Singapore. Even further: Kluang, Malaysia.


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