From book swaps in workplaces to promoting Singapore literature and reading in one’s mother tongue, the National Library Board (NLB) is doubling its efforts to promote reading among adults this year.
According to an inaugural study on reading habits here that was conducted last year, eight in 10 Singaporean adults read the news, a book and/or a magazine more than once a week. However, when it comes to reading books, the proportion who picked up at least one book in the past year fell to 64 per cent, out of the 3,515 residents surveyed.
Six in 10 of those surveyed can read in both English and their mother tongue, but fewer than four in 10 (38 per cent) read in their mother tongue more than once a week. Out of those who read, almost all (98 per cent) read non-fiction while slightly over half (57 per cent) opt for fiction.
Based on these findings, this year’s National Reading Movement will focus on expanding adults’ reading diet by encouraging them to read across different genres.
The NLB is working with local authors to promote Singapore literature and ramping up its collections and programmes conducted in mother tongue languages.
It also aims to make reading more convenient for adults by providing a wider range of digital content, and by taking reading to their offices.
More than 380 firms have partnered with the NLB under the [email protected] initiative — DP Architects, for instance, share curated reading recommendations to their staff and participate in library programmes. PropNex organises mass reading sessions, while Resorts World Sentosa and KPMG have introduced book swaps to promote reading.
The NLB also plans to double the number of library corners at senior activity centres to 30 by 2020.
Noting that the NLB has seen a 38 per cent hike in books borrowed from its digital collections last year, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim said: “Technology (has enabled) our people to read and learn more conveniently, wherever they are, whenever they want ... However, I also recognise that nothing can replace the feel of a book ... Our libraries will continue to cater to all modes of reading and learning.“
This year will also see four public libraries re-open with niche features. Come March 18, Sengkang Public Library will open its doors with a space dedicated to youth with activities ranging from cosplay to programming.
Bukit Panjang Public Library, which re-opens in the third quarter of the year, will feature an “immersive storytelling” area, which calls on sound effects, lights and interactive visual projections to bring stories alive to children.
Tampines Regional Library will also re-open in the third quarter with double its previous floor area. It will feature a new space for people to tinker with gadgets, design prototypes and to bounce ideas off one another.
At the new Bedok Public Library, which opens in the last quarter of the year, the NLB aims to promote digital literacy for seniors in the neighbourhood through programmes to help them pick up digital skills.