Learning beyond borders
National Library Board

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
The National Library Board (NLB) manages the National Library, 26 Public Libraries (including three Regional Libraries) and the National Archives of Singapore. NLB promotes reading, learning and information literacy by providing a trusted, accessible and globally-connected library and information services through the National Library, National Archives and a comprehensive network of Public Libraries. By forging strategic partnerships to cultivate knowledge sharing, the libraries also encourage appreciation and awareness of Singapore’s history through their wide range of programmes and collections on Singapore and the region. Libraries play a critical role in preparing Singaporeans for new opportunities and challenges in a global and knowledge-based economy. NLB does so by building a dynamic and adaptable information infrastructure through participation in local and international knowledge networks and strategic partnerships in the knowledge value chain. NLB is guided by the five core values: • Commitment to Customer Service & Excellence • Valuing the Community • Working & Sharing Together • Passion for Learning • Taking Responsibility Since its inception in 1995, NLB has been working steadily to bring libraries closer to the public, NLB has placed knowledge and information management resources within easy reach of all Singaporeans (NLB reaches 1 in 2 residents). With its vast and growing collection of books and multimedia materials, the library is the repository of information. Through its links with local and overseas database providers, NLB offers users global access to information anywhere in the world. NLB is fast moving toward its goal of becoming a highly respected information hub in the region. b. Situation before the initiative began and why an Innovative solution was required Located in Asia in which many emerging markets are situated, these countries often do not have the means to develop its library infrastructure to support reading and learning. As such NLB often receives requests to provide services to improve library services in neighbouring countries. Thus NLB had to devise an innovative way to extend its reach beyond Singapore to help its neighbours. With this objective in mind, NLB has taken a step forward extend its mission to help spread knowledge within the region. This is done by working with partners to donate repurposed books and lending expertise to build IT systems and library infrastructure in developing countries such Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar. c. Major problems and issues that needed to be addressed Problems that needed to be addressed include how to reach out and help the needy in neighbouring countries. This was done by collaborating with others to reach out to the beneficiaries in those countries. It includes forming partnerships with foundations to offer repurposed books, tailoring information literacy classes to the needs of the target audience and providing customised library skills that increase the beneficiary’s opportunities for social integration and networking. d. What Social groups were affected and it what ways? Social groups affected were the people of towns in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar. They are affected by the lack of access to books and library services and materials in their home town and in the cases, they are hope to improve the standard of English so that they are better able to level up with the rest of the world.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
As a gateway to knowledge and culture, libraries play a fundamental role in society. The National Library Board (NLB) worked with various stakeholders to repurpose its books by donating them to emerging and developing countries where there is an increase demand of reading resources and library management expertise. As a leader in the library in industry, NLB was approached by SIF in 2014 to sign a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on bringing the expertise of NLB to work on projects (described in part 3 below) and enhance the SIF volunteer driven overseas community and to uplift the lives of underprivileged people living in identified countries in Asia. In addition, NLB also holds the annual Charity Book Donation, where VWOs come to collect books to distribute to their beneficiaries including those situated in Asian countries.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
. Books for Asia Program NLB worked with the Asia Foundation in the Books for Asia Program in partnership with the Sri Lanka Library Association and The National Library and Documentation Services Board, and conducted a workshop in Sri Lanka for Public Librarians in 2013. The workshop was attended by 100 Sri Lankan public librarians. The workshop trained the librarians on • Developing and implement services to develop reading skills and bilingualism in children • Promoting reading habits across the various target audience • Storytelling techniques • Cultivating customer service and service excellence culture b. Digital Windows Project NLB conducted training workshops to promote digital content and access. These initiatives provide a basic cornerstone for our library counterparts and were funded by the grants given to NLB by the US Government. The purpose of this project was to: • Present the host country with a donation of eReaders and introductory training to the librarians • Share knowledge with the region on how to utilize eResources and eDevices to deliver services to customers • Share NLB’s experience in promotion of reading initiatives i. Indonesia NLB Librarians and volunteers from the West Java Board of Library and Archives (BAPUSIPDA) in Bandung were presented with 40 Nook e-readers and given a workshop on how to conduct reading related activities using the e-readers. ii. Myanmar Myanmar Book Foundation, in collaboration with IPRD and Beyond Access held a ASEAN Library Development Forum, 2014 in Myanmar. NLB’s staff were invited to present two workshops at the forum. NLB also donated 40 e-readers and about 3,000 used English children’s books from our library collections to Myanmar public libraries. iii. The Philippines 40 e-readers were donated to the National Library of Philippines and NLB held training workshops on the use of the e-readers, library management, and how to engage youths using social media and reading programmes. iv. Vietnam NLB presented the 40 e-readers to The Library Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi, and conducted workshops on the use of the e-readers, library management and storytelling. In March 2017, NLB collaborated with SIF and General Sciences Library (GSL) and libraries in South Vietnam, to tap on NLB’s for specialized IT training for their staff. NLB staff also conducted training for 50 GSL and 24 district libraries to cover reference skills such as evaluation of online sources and reference service. c. Enhancing English Language Competency Programmes at Jaffna Public Library NLB was approached in Aug 2013 by Ministry of Foreign Affairs/ SIF to be their partner on a project to enhance the employability of youth in Jaffna by improving their level of English competency. The project objectives include: a) To assist by sharing Singapore’s know-how and resources. b) To provide useful work skills to young persons in Jaffna c) To provide a useful resource and skillset to Jaffna Public Library to support their outreach programmes. d) To bring together SIF’s experience in capacity building in Asia and NLB’s expertise in Library management and community education programmes to assist the Jaffna community. Training workshops were conducted for Jaffna Public Library librarians on: i. English Language competency, reading programmes and youth services. ii. Conduct library programmes in English iii. Reading programmes, teen services, social media presence and English language communication iv. Teen corner and advise on techniques for engaging online community 10,000 English language books for children from NLB’s used library collections were also donated to JPL. d. Words On Wheels (WoW) Project Words on Wheels (WOW) is a mobile library project initiated and managed by the SIF. The project builds on SIF’s current commitment to improving the quality of education. The SIF Specialist team comprising NLB librarians aims to develop local capacity through direct library skills enhancement and training of trainers. NLB was involved to build capacity in the region in the field of library work. The projects involved conducting feasibility studies to identify areas for training, followed by custom tailored workshops for the staff. NLB workshops from August 2013- May 2014 for staff and volunteers in the West Java Board of Library and Archives (BAPUSIPDA), including an attachment at public libraries in Singapore in 2014.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Collaborating with various stakeholders to leverage on their contacts to repurpose books and lending expertise to emerging and developing countries was a creative way to extend the reach of the library beyond Singapore’s shores. In early 2015, NLB and the Library Association of Singapore worked with the National Library of Myanmar and the Library Association of Myanmar on a donation of 50000 used books to the National Library of Myanmar and public libraries. In addition to our library books, NLB are heartened to receive the donation of pre-loved books from its corporate partners such as the Public Service Division, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources and DBS Bank. Every single book was taken up by the 94 participating volunteer welfare and non-profit profit organisations (VWOs & Non Profit Organsiations). In addition, NLB conducts an annual Charity Book Donation to repurpose used library books by donating them to the beneficiaries from Singapore as well as overseas countries. Close to 150 volunteer welfare organisations and their local and overseas beneficiaries received about 230,000 used books donated by NLB through its charity book donation as well as during the special book donation project.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
NLB working together with its partners have delivered reading programmes to the following organisations and countries a) Books for Asia Program- worked with the Asia Foundation in the Books for Asia Program in partnership with the Sri Lanka Library Association and The National Library and Documentation Services Board, and conducted a workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka for Public Librarians. The workshop was attended by 100 Sri Lankan public librarians. (49) b) Digital Windows Project - In the continuous effort to assist developing countries in building up their digital library capabilities, NLB conducted training workshops to promote digital content and access. These initiatives provide a basic cornerstone for our library counterparts in Southeast Asia and were funded by the grants given to NLB by the US Government. i) Indonesia Librarians and volunteers from the West Java Board of Library and Archives (BAPUSIPDA) in Bandung were presented with 40 Nook e-readers and given a 2-day workshop on use of the e-readers and conducting reading related activities using the e-readers. ii) Myanmar The 40 Nook e-readers were donated to the Myanmar Public Libraries through the Myanmar Information & Public Relations Department. NLB also donated about 3,000 used English children’s books from our library collections to Myanmar public libraries through the Myanmar Book Foundation. iii) The Philippines 40 Nook e-readers were donated to the National Library of Philippines and training workshops were conducted from 19-22 May 2014 on use of the e-readers, library management, and engaging youths using social media and reading programmes. c) Enhancing English Language Competency Programmes at Jaffna Public Library Training workshop were conducted for Jaffna Public Library librarians. 10,000 English language books for children from NLB’s used library collections were also donated to JPL
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The strategy implemented was to partner with foundations and VWOs to identify the beneficiaries and lend NLB’s expertise and donation of books to try and work with them to enhance the quality of the beneficiaries’ lives, funding was provided by the stakeholders NLB worked with. • 2009- NLB had sent staff as SIF volunteers to help set up the Children’s Section of Jaffna Public Library in 2009. Work done included remodelling the Children’s Section, training of library staff in children programmes, conducting Raise a Reader workshops for parents, and donation of used NLB books to the library. • 2013 - Books for Asia Program in partnership with the Sri Lanka Library Association and The National Library and Documentation Services Board, and conducted a workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka for Public Librarians on 24th and 25th of October 2013 in Colombo. Aug 2013 by Ministry of Foreign Affairs /Singapore International Foundation to be their partner on a project to enhance the employability of youth in Jaffna by improving their level of English competency. • 2014- Librarians and volunteers from the West Java Board of Library and Archives (BAPUSIPDA) in Bandung were presented with 40 Nook e-readers and given a 2-day workshop on use of the e-readers and conducting reading related activities using the e-readers in May 2014. Myanmar Book Foundation, in collaboration with Myanmar Information Public Relations Department and Beyond Access held a ASEAN Library Development Forum, in February 2014 in Myanmar. NLB’s staff was invited to present two workshops at the forum together with the donation of the e-readers. The 40 Nook e-readers were donated to the Myanmar Public Libraries, through IPRD. NLB also donated about 3,000 used English children’s books from our library collections to Myanmar public libraries through the Myanmar Book Foundation. NLB presented the e-readers to The Library Department, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi, and conducted workshops from 1-4 July 2014 on the use of the e-readers, library management and storytelling. NLB conducted five workshops from August 2013- May 2014 for staff and volunteers in the West Java Board of Library and Archives (BAPUSIPDA), including an attachment at public libraries in Singapore in March 2014. • 2015 - Four workshops for were conducted for staff of General Science Library (GSL) in Ho Chi Minh City from 2015-2016, with a study visit to Singapore in December 2015. • 2017- GSL network consist of GSL in Ho Chi Minh City and 24 libraries in South Vietnam to tap on NLB’s expertise for specialised IT training for their staff and conduct reference skills workshop.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The stakeholders involved included both NLB staff, the Foundations that we collaborated with e.g. Singapore International Foundation (SIF) as well as the beneficiaries such as the overseas librarians and their users. An MOU was signed with the SIF to collaborate in bringing the expertise of NLB to enhance the SIF volunteer driven overseas community development projects as well as to build the local capacity to promote reading and learning in overseas communities and to uplift the lives of under privileged people living in mutually identified countries in Asia. In the case of the Books for Asia Programme, NLB worked with the Asia Foundation in partnership with the Sri Lanka Library Association and the National Library and Documentation Services board to conduct a workshop for Sri Lankan Public Librarians in Colombo. Typically, NLB provides the expertise to train the librarians in the use and promotion of digital content and access. NLB also designs and carries out training for in areas such as Specialist Library Management or Library Science related training. In addition, NLB also helps by as well seeking grants from foundations or agencies (e.g. e book readers donated by the US Embassy) and helps support ad hoc initiatives such as book donation programmes.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Outreach to the region: SDG 4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all a. Levelling up professional library competencies i. The management team of BAPUSIPDA was very happy with the outcome of the workshops. They shared that the staff who participated in the workshops have shown marked improvement in their work performance. The staff have also shown greater commitment and passion in carrying out their duties. They are more forthcoming with suggestions and ideas on new programmes that can be offered to their library users based on what they learned during the workshops. ii. The series of workshops were beneficial to all, with parties gaining from the interaction and exchange of ideas and new friendships formed. iii. Training the librarians techniques on how to bridge age gaps between the libraries and younger customers iv. Improving the software knowledge as well as search and information acquisition techniques v. Video/ sound/ photo editing software skills introduced and broadened into learning modules aimed at enhancing the librarians soft, hard and technical skills to better promote and market libraries vi. Enhanced English language skills to broaden global reach and enhance communication. b. Repurposing used library materials i. After a meaningful lifespan spreading learning to the people of Singapore, used library materials are being repurposed to be donated to the needy from other countries in the region. In particular, 10000 English language books for children from NLB’s used library collection were donated to Jaffna Public Library ii. Over a period of 2 years 14-16 over 60 000 books were donated to NGOs/VWOs/NPOs who channelled them to countries such as Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Palestine, Vietnam. c. Cultivating a habit of reading amongst the young in Sri Lanka by training Sri Lankan Public Librarians (Collaboration with Asia Foundation in the Books for Asia Programme) i. Developing and implementing services and initiatives to develop reading skills and bilingualism in children. ii. Promoting reading habits across the various target audience iii. Honing storytelling techniques iv. Cultivating customer service and instilling a culture of service excellence.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Some challenges occurred in training the Jaffna Public Librarians (JPL) and helping them to improve their content knowledge about the donated youth collection. A key issue was that most of the JPL librarians are middle aged, there was a vast generational and cultural gap between them and the teenagers of Jaffna Town. Those gaps have been bridged through a conscious effort to feed information about the music and film markets and how they correlate and collaborate with the global publishing industry. The JPL librarians’ knowledge about pop culture, that dominates the influence of teenagers through music, films and graphic novels have been updated and thoroughly enhanced. In addition, more creative ways of promoting content had to be introduced, and thus, video and sound editing software together with photo editing and poster design skills have been introduced to librarians these skills helped them to keep libraries relevant and create awareness for reading in a society that is lacking in communicative transportation limitations. Other challenges include fine tuning the training curriculum to suit the diverse needs of the participants from the different countries, as well as language barriers. To overcome language barriers, NLB trainers had to rely on the use of interpreters, as well as to tailor the learning and content to the pace of the participants. There were also cultural differences to consider when training e.g. cannot rush things, the NLB team needed to cater for their timings.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
a. Improving lives of beneficiaries Through Words on Wheels (WOW) mobile library project, NLB together with its partner SIF improved access to books as well as English language and information Technology training. i. Enhancing English Language Competency Programmes Workshops were conducted for Jaffna Public Library Librarians to conduct English language competency training for the youth of Jaffna town. NLB staff taught JPL staff how to conduct reading programmes and youth services. Overall, after a yearlong training programme, the Jaffna Librarians have improved their abilities to speak in English. They have also learnt how to produce slides and multi-modal learning aids for book discussions. In addition, they have picked up analytical skills and questioning techniques to stimulate engaging discussions on library materials. These workshops have a positive impact in the sense that the level of competency in not just English language, but they had also picked up valuable technical skills that can be used to improve the employability of the youth in Jaffna. ii. Books for Asia Programme The same approach was taken for NLB’s work with the Asia foundation in the Books for Asia Programmme in partnership with the Sri Lanka Library Library Association and The National Library and Documentation Services Board, and conducted a workshop in Colombo, Sri Lanka for Public Librarians in October 2013 in Colombo. The workshop was attended by 100 Sri Lankan public librarians. The workshop trained the librarians on: • Developing and implementing services and initiatives to develop reading skills and bilingualism in children • Promoting reading habits across the various target audience • Storytelling techniques • Cultivating customer service and service excellence culture iii. Digital Windows Project NLB conducted training workshop to promote digital content and access. These initiatives provide a basic cornerstone for our library counterparts in southeast Asia and were funded by grants given to NLB by the US Government. The impact of these donated e book readers has helped to promote the culture of reading in the beneficiaries from Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines & Vietnam. iv. Increasing the Librarians Skill Level Under the Words On Wheels project, NLB conducted five workshops for staff and volunteers in the West Java Board of Library and Archives, in addition, it was also involved in the WoW Bandung (Indonesia) and WoW Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) projects to train library staff to build capacity in the region in the field of library work. The projects involved conducting feasibility studies to identify areas for training, followed by custom tailored workshops for the staff. Feedback received highlighted that those who participated in the workshops have shown marked improvement in their work performance. The staff have also shown greater commitment and passion in carrying out their duties and were more forthcoming with suggestions and ideas on new programmes that can be offered to their library users based on what they learned during the workshops. It was also mentioned that the systematic way that NLB librarians implement programmes were very useful and had helped librarians to plan their own programmes. The librarians also informed us that the workshops have motivated and inspired them to be creative and innovative in planning for new programmes for their library users. *(more details on positive impact can be provided upon request)

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
NA

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
NA

Contact Information

Institution Name:   National Library Board
Institution Type:   Public Agency  
Contact Person:   Narinder Kaur
Title:   Deputy Director  
Telephone/ Fax:   63323255
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   narinder_kaur@nlb.gov.sg  
Address:   100 Victoria Street
Postal Code:   188064
City:   Singapore
State/Province:   Singapore
Country:  

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