Parliament Sitting on 3 October 2022

QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

51. Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information how does the National Library Board aim to attract each new generation of children to cultivate the love for reading physical books.

52. Mr Christopher de Souza: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information whether the National Library Board will increase the number of libraries in estates and neighbourhoods so as to bring books and news closer to residents.

 

Answer:

1. NLB has an extensive network of 29 physical libraries (including the National Library, public and partner libraries) conveniently located across the island, with the new Punggol Regional Library slated for opening in 2023. Beyond this, there are currently no plans for more regional libraries, but NLB actively supports communities that are keen to set up and run their own reading corners through providing a seed collection.  

2. Nurturing the love of reading in children is a priority for NLB. As a result, based on NLB’s annual Reach Survey, more than 85% of children aged 7-12 years old benefited from NLB's services, such as accessing NLB's books and e-resources or attending programmes in the past 12 months.  

3. To cultivate the love for reading among the young, NLB employs a three-pronged approach. First, NLB has carefully curated collections and services targeted at different age groups. In 2016, NLB introduced the Babies Can Be Members Too! programme with library membership and curated materials for children aged 0 to 2 years. From 2019 to 2021, more than 96% of each birth cohort on the LifeSG app have been signed up as library members through this programme. This is complemented by the A Book A Day reading programme, which encourages parents (with children aged 6 years and below) to read daily to their children. 

4. Second, NLB encourages reading among children through gamification campaigns, such as Book Bugs, which allows children to redeem collectible cards using points earned by borrowing books. Currently in its fourth iteration, Book Bugs encourages children to read, learn, and play together, supported by a host of reading activities available in the public libraries and online. The most recent edition of Book Bugs, which also sought to encourage reading in Mother Tongue, had over 74,000 participants.  

5. Third, NLB builds strong partnerships to ensure sustained support for a child’s reading habits. Together with schools, volunteers and self-help groups, NLB promotes reading to young children and teens. kidsREAD is a nationwide reading programme that engages children from less privileged families. With the support of partner organisations, more than 170 kidsREAD clubs have been set up in community spaces and schools to engage participants in weekly story-related activities.

6. In addition, NLB has an extensive collection of e-books, e-newspapers, e-magazines and audiobooks that Singaporeans can seamlessly access from the comfort of their own homes or when they are on the move, through the NLB Mobile and Libby apps. 

7. The National Library Board (NLB) recently also launched LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025) to meet the evolving reading and learning needs of Singaporeans. By reimagining our libraries and archives, NLB seeks to make our libraries and collections easily accessible for all Singaporeans and inspire more lifelong readers and learners.

8. To encourage more citizens to discover NLB’s rich resources, NLB nodes were rolled out at shopping malls, food and beverage spaces, and workplaces starting from October 2021. These nodes feature interactive installations and immersive wallpapers that serve as entry points to NLB’s digital collections. New deployments of nodes are also being planned for other public spaces such as parks. 
 
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