The National Library of Singapore combines two library collections in an innovative and spacious design to provide an ideal, life-study learning culture.
The National Library of Singapore stands as a monument to a republic’s intellectual and academic aspirations. It is one of Singapore’s newer constructions and it seeks to establish a stronghold in Southeast Asia for the coming together of great minds.More than that, it is simply a wonderful place to relax and wallow in the great books of our time. It is one of the largest and most impressive libraries in the world. It combines the old, long-held tradition of libraries as repositories of great books; it features the modern aesthetic of economic design, and it is multi-functional. In short, it is a wonderful place for learning and for living.
Centrally located in the heart of Singapore
The National Library of Singapore is easily accessible as it is located at 100 Victoria Street, near one of the city-state’s more glamorous of promenades – Bugis Junction. It is merely a few minutes walk coming out from Bugis MRT station, with plenty of buses passing by. One could have a nice meal at Bugis before heading down to the National Library for some intellectual nutrition.
As to the National Library itself, it is first and foremost a repository of books – and a tall one at that. In all there are some 13 levels, with the last two containing rare collections and accessible only to staff. It is a skyscraper of a library, and just to trek up all its levels by elevator is an arduous journey in itself.
The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, and Central Lending Library
To get to the gist of the National Library, start by exploring the Lee Kong Chian Library, which comprises levels 7-13 in the building. Named after the Library’s foremost benefactor, Dr Lee Kong Chian. Different levels are dedicated to different fields of knowledge:
- level 7 consists of the social and technological fields
- level 8 has the arts and business
- level 9 has the Chinese and Malay collections
- level 10 has the special bequeathed collections of local donors
- level 11 has Singaporean and Southeast Asian works
- levels 12-13 have rare books
In all, the Lee Kong Chain stands out and is most likely the reason for anyone spending a day here. Its genres are as broad as they might be to encompass major fields of knowledge – history, art, science, business etc. For that its collections are as general as could be for a specialist library for the public. For local history or works of local interest – in Singapore and Southeast Asia, however, its archives are second to none. For the less specialized reader with intentions of borrowing, the Central Lending Library is open in the basement level, with the usual breadth and width of a local library.
Drama center and rooftop gardens
The National Library is much more than just a home for books, however. It is also a home for readers of books. Levels 3-5 house the Drama Center, sponsored by the National Arts Council, where visitors may attend theatrical and cultural performances. The Library is not just a place for reading and quiet learning, but also a place to explore the artistic and cultural products of the human spirit.
Moreover, the Library’s architecture incorporates energy-efficient, Eco-design principles. Symbolic of this – and a window into libraries of the future – are the two rooftop gardens which provide refuge from the city life busily going on below (and perhaps from the Library’s air-conditioning too!). The National Library is a place for the mind and spirit.
Spacious study areas make the National Library the idea place for learning
If one would to escape from the toils of Singaporean life, one need look no further than this Library. The study areas on virtually every collection level are very pleasant and spacious places for reading or revision. The tables are large and amply accommodate many at once without ever being too crowded. There are private rooms for discussion, too.
Moreover, free wireless internet connections are to be found for all laptop users, while the study desks include plugs for charging electronic equipment. The high ceilings and wide window vistas should provide enough space for the wondering mind. One could spent hours and hours in the National Library. Of all the wonderful places in Singapore, this is perhaps the best for a wondering mind.