Parliament Sitting on 10 September 2018


12. Mr Kok Heng Leun:
To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) since 2014, how many complaints have been received by NLB over books with homosexual content; (b) how many of these are in the children's section, and adult and other sections respectively and what are their titles; (c) what have been the actions taken in response and what are the books that have been pulped, removed from the library, or moved from one section to another; (d) how many complaints are there about books with religious, racial and other content and what are the actions taken in light of the complaints; and (e) what is the overall policy on such books.


Since 2014, the NLB has received eleven complaints from the public over titles with homosexual content. Eight of these titles were moved to sections for older readers, while three were assessed to be suitable to remain in the original collection for children and young adults. The NLB also received feedback on twenty-three titles due to race, religion and other topics.  Of these, seven were moved to sections for older readers, and eight were retained in their original collection. A series of eight Malay children’s titles - Agama, Tamadun Dan Arkeologi (Religion, Civilisation and Archeology) - were withdrawn in June last year, due to controversial religious content.

2 The NLB brings in an average of 86,000 new titles for the 26 public libraries each year1, to ensure that library collections remain updated and relevant for Singaporeans of all ages. Titles are selected based on a collection policy which aims to provide age-appropriate and diverse reading material. The collection policy also takes reference from IMDA’s general Content Guidelines for Imported Publications. The broad guidelines of the collection policy and selection criteria are available on NLB’s website.  

3 The NLB seeks to balance the need for a wide-ranging library collection with sensitivity towards our community norms. Beyond its team of book selectors, the NLB also relies on pre-publication information from publishers and vendors, and reviews from library journals. In some instances, review copies are requested so that the NLB can assess these books in greater detail. In addition, the Library Consultative Panel (LCP), comprising citizens from a wide cross-section of our society, was established in 2015 to provide diverse community perspectives and recommendations to NLB on books which are being reviewed due to content concerns raised by members of the public.


1  As multiple copies of each titles are purchased, this translates to about 800,000 physical books across the 26 public libraries.