LibWorld – Singapore

Our guest author from the smallest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore, is Ivan Chew. His current job is to manage and develop the Adults & Young People services, looking into collection, programmes and services. He is serving a 4-year term (2005 – 2009) in the IFLA Standing Committee for Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section.

Singapore disposes of a distinguished equipment and an innovative arranged librarianship. It deemed to be as one of the best in the world. Since September 2001 exists for example the “eLibraryHub“, a virtual library, where every citizen of Singapore can use all online services.

Overview of library-related blogs in Singapore
It’s hard to say when librarians in Singapore started blogging. My sense is that blogging began to gain momentum in Singapore in 2003 or 2004, when people started to hear more about “blogs”. I know of some librarians who were already blogging by that time, but I’ve been told that I was the first to openly announce that I’m a librarian and the first to start a library-specific personal blog in Singapore. No one has disputed that so far. 🙂

Now, there are about 15 active blogs written by Singapore librarians. Back in 2005, there was perhaps a quarter of that number. But compared to 2004 and 2005, there is definitely a lot more Singapore library and librarian blogs – enough for me to publish a monthly post on “Highlights from Singapore LibraryBlogLand“.

Singapore “Liblogarians”
Here are some Singapore “Liblogarians” who post regularly:

They don’t necessarily write about library-related matters. Which is fine, if you ask me. They probably have their regular friends and readers, who connect with what they post. There’s value in just being “available” on the Internet.

My own blog is at Rambling Librarian, where I try to post a mix of library-related issues, as well as personal views and social commentaries. I started the blog in June 2004, after a blogger took issue with my remarks that “blogs were platforms for verbal diarrhea”. I decided I didn’t know what I was talking about so I plunged into the Blogosphere to educate myself. Over the last two years, I’ve become a skeptic to a person who maintains six blogs and one podcast!

Library-institutional blogs
The first library in Singapore to start a blog was Ngee Ann Polytechnic library. It’s called Readers’ Choice and started in December 2004. Their blog features book summaries and reviews by students and library staff.

Here’s an excerpt of a phone interview with the librarian who was directly involved in setting up the blog.

Other institutional library blogs followed in 2005, mainly by the National Library Board:

  • Programmes @ 100 Victoria Street (featuring programmes from the National Library of Singapore);
  • High Browse Online (a book blog by the Public Library); (a book blog by the Public Library);
  • ASK! (featuring selected questions and answers received by the public libraries);
  • DigiTalk (a blog that highlights NLB digital resources and online promotions). These blogs were started between November 2005 and June 2006.

In September 2006, the Library Association of Singapore started a blog called Singapore Libraries Bulletin. It served as an online replacement for their print newsletter.

What do I expect from the future of library and library-related blogs in my country?
In the last 10 years, the reputations of many libraries in Singapore have improved tremendously, due to the many proactive changes adopted by the public, national and academic libraries. The image of librarians has also improved generally, although many people still do not really know what goes on within the profession. Stereotypes still abound.

I sense that younger librarians recognise they will be the ones to effecting that change in mindsets, about what the profession is about. So I think there will be more librarians taking up Social Media (like blogs, podcasts, and wikis) as a way to engage and connect with users and non-users alike.

Or to learn new skills in order to keep up with whatever’s happening on the Internet. I can personally attest to this part – I’ve learned so much from my blogging “experiments”, and you tend to meet many helpful people in the blogosphere. The amount of genuine sharing is tremendous. It works both ways.

I’d expect libraries and librarians to be around in Singapore for a long, long time. It’s clear to me that library and information professionals in Singapore have the fortitude to adapt and evolve according to circumstances and changing user needs.