Parliament Sitting on 6 February 2023
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
35. Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) in the last five years, how many library books have been removed from public borrowing by the National Library Board (NLB); (b) what are the reasons for such removal and whether other measures such as labels for age appropriateness or advisory can be considered; and (c) what are the typical processes and relevant factors considered by NLB before deciding to remove such titles or publications from its repository.
1. The National Library Board (NLB) strives to ensure that its collections are appropriate for different age groups, in line with prevailing social and cultural norms. Its collection policy also takes reference from content guidelines provided by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). For children’s titles reviewed and assigned “Parental Guidance Recommended” Advisory, a Parental Guidance label will be shown in the library’s catalogue records and during check-out at book borrowing stations, to alert readers to potentially sensitive matter.
2. The NLB brings in an average of 86,000 new titles for the public libraries each year, to ensure that library collections remain updated and relevant for Singaporeans of all ages. When NLB receives public feedback on certain titles, it has processes in place to review the books concerned. This includes tapping on its Library Consultative Panel (LCP), an independent citizen-based committee from a wide cross section of society. Established in 2015, the panel provides diverse community perspectives and recommendations to NLB on the books that the public have highlighted.
3. Since 2018, the NLB has received 42 instances of feedback from members of the public. 1 title was withdrawn, after consultation with the Library Consultative Panel, due to its violent storyline and illustrations. 17 children’s titles were moved to sections for higher age groups, 1 adult title was reclassified and moved to the reference section, while 23 titles (including books for children, young adults, and adults) were assessed to be suitable to remain in their original collections.