5 reasons why Sengkang Library is the most user-unfriendly public library in Singapore.

Photo above shows armchairs in Yishun Library.

Sengkang Library in Compass Point is probably the most user-unfriendly library in the whole of Singapore.

These are the reasons why:

1. There are no chairs in the library only hard benches.

2. There are no tables.

3. There are no tables for newspaper reading. (I noticed Yishun Library has just added another table.)

4. Even the hard benches are not enough as students convert them into their own study tables.

5. Library users are therefore forced to sit on the floor all over the library.

I raised my concerns with NLB. Their reply was laughable if not ridiculous. Their reply was that Sengkang Library is a DIY library, whatever that means. Hence the minimal facilities. Then why does Yishun Library come equipped with so many facilities even though it is also located in a shopping mall?

Bureaucrats are brilliant at justifying anything. A DIY library. My God!

In all public libraries users are urged not to sit on the floor but in Sengkang Library you have no choice.

The people of Sengkang and also of Punggol deserve better.

Or else people will ask, “Why the double standard?”

A newspaper reading table in Yishun Library.

8 Responses to “5 reasons why Sengkang Library is the most user-unfriendly public library in Singapore.”

  1. Now that you mentioned it, I recall that another shopping mall library (Bukit Batok PL) also has benches instead of sofas. To alleviate the relative lack of seating space, there are a few utility-type chairs (with back-rest) placed at selected spots. I also seem to remember tables. Likewise for Choa Chu Kang PL in Lot 1 Mall. The comparatively luxurious Yishun PL might be an exception — I suppose it has larger floorspace ?

    As shopping mall libraries tend to be much smaller & might have higher user turnover rates, the absence of sofas is probably a conscious decision to maximize floorspace usage & minimize seat hogging (esp. when users decide that comfy sofas are a good idea for naps).

    If there is a substantial voiced-out demand for tables & sofa-type seating, I suppose the affected library could consider space reconfiguration in the near future. However, if space constraint is a considerable limitation, there would probably be opportunity costs incurred in the process — most likely at the expense of fewer shelves & a smaller collection.

    Alternatively, library users on their part can attempt creative solutions in the DIY spirit — bring your own camping-type foldable seats (some of which come with back-rests), & locate yourself at some spot that won’t obstruct traffic or endanger other users. For newspaper reading, make yourself more comfortable by resting the papers on your lap.

    While the above may not be the most satisfying (as compared to having a public sofa of your own for a few hours), there is no harm in striving to get the most out of currently-available resources, while persuading NLB to fine-tune its policy wrt mall libraries.

    • Thanks for your comment and suggestions.

      There’s no space constraint in Sengkang Library. Yishun Library is only slightly bigger.

      I pity students who need tables and the elderly.

      Your suggestion about bringing foldable chairs is excellent. Perhaps I’ll bring one just to put a point across.

      I wrote to NLB but they said it’s a DIY library so I’ll DIY by bringing in a foldable chair which I happen to have (for fishing) .LOL.

      It’d be interesting to see if the library has any objection!

  2. As long as your folding-chair is not blocking anybody’s way, I don’t see why NLB should make it an issue …

    As for making a point, perhaps you might even wish to also bring along a folded-up carton box, unfold it & set it up as a paper-table. In my mind’s eye, the sides of the paper-table will begin with headers like “How We can make Our Library Better” or “I Wish Our Library Could …”, followed by listed details.

    If you are carrying out the peaceful performance-petition, do post about your experience. šŸ™‚

    Incidentally, I was also wondering about elderly & physically-challenged patrons yesterday, when I happened to chance upon NLB’s blog talking about the upcoming Serangoon PL at Nex. As such, amongst a couple of other things, I touched on your feedback wrt mall libraries, & requested NLB to consider the possibility of a more comfortable & accessible mall library.

    As of now, the comments are still held in quarantine — no indication of whether NLB would release or respond to the comments. (I had previously sent email-feedback on other issues , but there is no response to date.) Meanwhile, as a regular & concerned user of mall libraries, you might wish to raise your feedback at the NLB channel — blog link.

    It might be easier to get worthwhile changes implemented, if your suggestions are heard by relevant people managing the ground, as opposed to a mailbox or PR person following some scripted answer. Whilst at the NLB blog yesterday, I wasn’t sure if you are agreeable to direct hyperlinking to your blog at NLB sites … you shall decide accordingly, should you go ahead to make your voice heard at the said blog.

  3. Thanks for your comment and suggestions again. Certainly food for thought and humorous as well.

    I wrote to the CEO himself but it was a futile attempt.

    I’d recount my experience if I do bring in a folding chair.

  4. Do you know that we are not even allowed to sit on the floor? The library personnals will ask those sitting on the floor to sit on the benches, which is directly under the air-con!:(

    • You are right. I noticed that too. On my last visit two days ago, I noticed nothing much has changed. Do something about it , NLB!!

      • Things have changed dramatically at Sengkang Library. Finally after ten years, it now has armchairs. Thank goodness.

  5. Dropping by last night at the library, i noticed that more comfy seats have been provided for library users hence the library is now no longer the most user-unfriendly library in my personal opinion.

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