National Library Board Singapore (NLB), our public libraries are a disgrace!

Gone are the shrieking children. Gone are the youths sprawled on the floor gossiping away. Gone are the little kids practising their tentative walks or exercising their vocal cords. Gone are all the kids too who practise their 10-metre dash.

Now you may ask What the hell are you talking about?

Aha, friends, I am talking about how quiet the public library has suddenly become! You see, today is the first day of school in the new year, and the “rascals” are back in school, and their parents are busy fussing over them at home.

How nice. I was patiently waiting for the change-over from school holidays to the school year. Finally, genuine library users can have some peace and quiet.

Bless you MOE for starting the school year a day earlier though it strikes many as odd to begin the new term on a Friday.



10 Responses to “National Library Board Singapore (NLB), our public libraries are a disgrace!”

  1. Thank you for highlighting the plight of MANY library users in Singapore. There are more more than two dozen libraries on the island and more than two million users (?) but despite measures like loud audio warnings within the premises the noise is worse than the Orchard Road din on a Saturday night.

    The same scenarios abound; parents are chasing kids between shelves; princes and princesses are screaming for their lost parents; mummy with child is surrounded by 20 books shouting out her story in the best Singlish.

    If anyone reads this and has some authority, do something.

  2. Thank you I ALSO READ. Some of my friends baulk at going to the library precisely for the reasons you cited. Ironically, bookstores like Kuni and Borders are quieter than our public libraries. Many have written to the papers to highlight this deplorable situation but the status quo prevails. National Library Board please wake up.

  3. There are other problems faced by the libraries. I have seen a man taking a whole stack of our daily papers and sit on the sofa for hours on end depriving other users for more comfortable space.

    There are some, as mentioned by Mr Poh, who use the floors between shelves to read their books and making it difficult for borrowers to search the shelves.

    Sometimes even the slips of paper to jot reference numbers are unavailable, probably eaten up by predators.

    Then there’s the inevitable phone call! I told a lady off when she started talking at the top of her voice. She scolded me. I walked away.

    I have been told that schools encourage student interaction in their own libraries. How is this done? At the top of their voices?

    A culture for users needs to be developed soon or our two dozen libraries will be Lau Par Sat potential.


  4. Thank you Mr Buay. Like you many genuine library users are outraged with the noisy environment in our public libraries. Children run right under the noses of the librarians and yet they do nothing about it. Lately I find myself telliing the kids not to run but it’s futile really.

    School libraries are not so popular with students. When asked why a student replied, “The librarian and teacher-in-charge very strict. Talk also cannot.”

    If NLB fails to address the situation, the feedback here will embarrass them.

  5. With their frequent public announcements warning library users against misbehaviour or face expulsion, the libraries are not only being irritating but also noise polluters themselves. How ironic! If the will to act against trangressions is absent it’s pointless, if not ludicrous, to make all these announcements. What do you think?

  6. Sometimes, it’s better to save up some cash to buy our own books/novels to read to avoid the national library. Anyway, the hotter titles are often loaned out for a zillion years before you can pick it up.

    But visiting the library at off-peak hours will be ideal to search for some reference materials.

    p.s. The school library is often used to “babysit” students who are enjoying their free period. So the librarian on duty has no choice but to be strict as it is mandatory for them to do so to maintain discipline.

    Take care & best regards

  7. Thank you Ezzy for your feedback. You have a good point there. Buy your own books and be spared the exasperation.

  8. Tried to get YAKUZA MOON by Shoko Tendo (2007). Waited more than 6 months before I managed to borrow a copy. And if you check the Search Catalogue you will find at least 2 copies in each library but they are either on loan, in transit or reserved.

    Even A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini (July 2008) shares the same fate.

    Guess they are very popular books. Well, just wait and wait, like making phone calls to important offices in Singapore, wait and wait and wait. Instructions after instructions just trying to get some simple information.

    Complacency IS the word!

    Andy Young

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