Misuse of Singapore public libraries, including the National Library.

This evening at the National Library (Victoria Street) I had to scold three kids of about 6 to 7 years of age for running about. The other readers simply ignored the disturbance or pretended to be deaf.

Some people might react with responses like Haven’t you been a kid before? Let kids have fun. Why are you such a busybody?

They miss the point. There’s such a thing as decorum which means behaving in a way that suits a particular place eg at the cinema we watch in silence, in a place of worship we listen respectfully, in the classroom we don’t run around as though it were a playground.

If the National Library fights shy of enforcing its rules, the situation in the branch libraries is even worse. For instance, Yishun Library is more like a bookstore than a library.

Entreaties over the tannoy seeking co-operation is not only a waste of time but irritating as they unwittingly contribute to the noise level.

And threats to eject those who refuse to comply with library rules? Mere empty threats, and laughable given the defiant responses.

A culture of misuse of public libraries has already become entrenched.

The National Library Board can’t simply throw up its hands in despair and blame library users and continue its mantra of seeking co-operation.

It has to take action to make our libraries a conducive place for reading, learning and research.

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