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Singapore’s latest next-generation library focuses on digital offering for all ages

Photo credit: National Library Board (NLB) Facebook

The new library @ harbourfront was opened on 12 January, on the third level of VivoCity overlooking Sentosa, by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information. It spans over 3,000 sq m and is the biggest library to be located in a mall in Singapore. It is designed with two distinct zones, one for adults and teens and another for children.

Augmented reality books for children

The children’s zone enables children to learn through technology. The children will be able to read augmented reality books on topics such as space, animals and the body. The books have QR codes in them, which parents can scan using a mobile application downloaded from Apple or Google Play Store, to make the books come to life. This makes the children’s reading experience more interactive.

Library also functions as eLearning resource centre for adults

There are six learning pods for adults to access digital content and resources to upgrade their skills, such as TED talk videos and online courses from LyndaLibrary. LyndaLibrary is an eLearning resource that offers an on-demand library of instructional videos covering topics such as business, design and technology.
Physical newspapers are replaced by 16 e-newspaper reading stations and there are quarterly exhibitions planned to feature emerging technologies.

The adult zone will be run by volunteers, similar to the arrangement at a number of existing libraries including library @ chinatown and Bukit Panjang Public Library to assist those who are not digitally inclined, to help them use the e-facilities on site.

Digital focus for all ages

NLB’s assistant chief executive of public libraries Catherine Lau said that the library @ harbourfront has a strong focus in digital technologies.

Explaining the digital technologies collection at the library @ harbourfront, Ms Lau said: “We want to inspire our readers to come and to learn beyond the horizon, discover new things and embark on a journey of lifelong learning.”

She said “Singapore is on this journey to promote a smart nation and NLB feels we can play a part to support it. We want to make technology something very easy for people to feel and touch but not in an intimidating way.”

Over the next year, the library @ harbourfront, is expected to have more than 500 programmes to help visitors learn new skills, including skills for the digital environment.

Keeping libraries relevant for Singaporeans

The National Library Board (NLB) is also broadening its channels to reach out to an increasingly digitalised society, with features such as an NLB mobile app.

This is an example of how libraries can stay relevant to the changing needs of Singaporeans, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said at the official opening of the library @ harbourfront.
The new next-generation library and its digital services reflects how well the National Library Board has evolved to suit the changing needs of the community over the years.  Libraries are no longer just a place of reference, they have become an interactive learning place and play an important role in helping all ages keep up the pace with digitalisation in Singapore.

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