Access books on your morning walk or kopi as NLB heads to parks and restaurants

SINGAPORE – If Singaporeans can’t go to the library, maybe the library can come to them. Offices, parks and food outlets will be additional places where people can scan QR codes to read digital magazines, e-books or other resources.

So far, 18 such “nodes” have appeared in shopping malls and Jewel Changi Airport, ranging from experimental spaces to e-book QR codes in elevators. These efforts, aimed at reaching people beyond physical libraries, are part of the National Library Board’s (NLB) five-year roadmap.

“As extensions of the physical libraries, these nodes will showcase the NLB’s digital collections, to inspire Singaporeans to read and learn wherever they can,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information Rahayu Mahzam. Friday, March 4.

Ms. Rahayu was speaking in parliament during the debate on her ministry’s budget.

She added that the roadmap, known in its entirety as the Library and Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25), would also promote lifelong learning.

“Faced with digitization, our libraries must adapt to the times, to continue to offer citizens a wide range of learning opportunities.”

NLB is also launching ExperienceIT, working with groups like Amazon Web Services, to encourage people to learn about emerging technologies.

The council will also partner with the community to bring more Singapore stories to NLB libraries. The Central Public Library will, after its revamp, have a “Singapore Alcove” showcasing Singaporean stories, literature and regular events with local authors.

The new library slated to open at Punggol Town Hub in the second half of this year is another step towards “equalizing digital access”, Ms Rahayu added.

“Building on NLB’s ongoing efforts to ensure the accessibility of its physical spaces, NLB will do more through a comprehensive suite of accessibility services for people with disabilities, starting with the Punggol Regional Library.”

Doing more would include offering accessible collections – sensory and braille books, sign language with text, and assistive technologies such as immersive readers for people who need to have content translated into other languages.

A LAB25 showcase in Parliament, open to the media on Wednesday, offered a glimpse of future possibilities. These range from a newsstand where people can scan QR codes to access NLB’s digital publications, to technology that translates visual images into audio for the visually impaired.

There was also a Curiocity 2.0 web application prototype, exploring Singapore through maps and photos via a partnership with Amazon Web Services.

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