If your family are keen readers, buying books means you need to have heaps of storage space and it’s expensive. Borrowing keeps young bookworms satiated with new and exciting stories, it’s also environmentally friendly and extremely affordable. Luckily, there are loads of public libraries in Singapore with some great reads for teens, children and tots too. Here are some of our favourite ones across the island.
Bukit Panjang Public Library
Having just reopened in July, this library features a brand new look, double the floor space and the Stories Come Alive Room – an immersive storytelling space that brings stories alive with changing scenes, sound effects, lights and animation. On Tuesdays and Sundays, kids under six can join Playtime@ Library, an unstructured play programme conducted at the Stories Come Alive Room, where parents can make use of books and educational aids to read with their little ones. Also new to the library are Book Mountains – creative shelving designs with gradual ramps and varying shelf heights – found across the Children’s Zone and Adults’ and Teens’ Zone. For updates, visit facebook.com/bukitpanjangpl. Open Monday to Sunday from 11am to 9pm
#04-04 & 16/17 Bukit Panjang Plaza, 1 Jelebu Road
Central Public Library
Public Library is home to My Tree House, the world’s first green library for kids, aimed at promoting both literacy and environmental awareness. Constructed from recycled bottles, salvaged timber and other sustainable materials, as well as energy-efficient LED lighting, the tree is the centrepiece of the eco-library, which also features The Knowledge Tree – an interactive “fruit tree” that allows children to learn about environmental issues via shadow play – and The Weather Stump, which showcases realtime weather data such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed from the Marina Barrage. In addition, there are two e-book kiosks that allow kids to read up to 180 titles, plus a physical library with 45,000 children’s fiction and non-fiction books. The library even holds special recycling workshops and kids’ camps! For programme updates, visit facebook.com/centralpl. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm
#B1-01, 100 Victoria Street Central
Queenstown Public Library
This library has a lot to offer for kids of all ages, from weekly storytelling sessions (7.30pm on Tuesdays for seven- to 10-yearolds, and 10.30am on Saturdays for kids aged four to six) to crafts and movie screenings, as well as gardening activities as part of the Community in Bloom project. They’ve also got a little café that’s great for a mid-read snack. Stay up to date by following their Facebook page at facebook.com/queenstownpl. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
53 Margaret Drive
Marine Parade Public Library
Serving the Mountbatten, Katong, Siglap, Marine Parade and Joo Chiat communities, this library features a colourful children’s section on level two, and a dedicated mezzanine level for teens, with spacious reading areas throughout. In addition to kid-friendly multimedia exhibits, the library holds storytelling sessions for four to six-year-olds on Tuesdays at 4pm, while the Tot’s Cove toddler sessions happen on Tuesdays at 4.30pm. Bonus points for the fact that there’s a café and dedicated nappy-changing room! Stay up to date by following their Facebook page at facebook.com/marineparadepl. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
#01-02 Marine Parade Community Building, 278 Marine Parade Road
Jurong Regional Library
The largest public library in Singapore, Jurong Regional Library spans four stories, plus a basement, which means there’s plenty of space to curl up with a book. This library is the first in Singapore to offer a dedicated Teens Library service, Verging All Teens (V.A.T.), with a distinct collection of various genres of comics and graphic novels. It’s also the place for young adults to take part in open-mic gigs to showcase their talents. Meanwhile, little ones will want to check out the Early Literacy Library, which caters to four- to six-year-olds and the under-three crowd, for loads of books and audio-visual materials. In addition to weekly storytelling sessions (Fridays at 4pm and Sundays at 12.30pm), there are Jiggle, Read and Rhyme sessions for tots, as well as craft sessions available. Check for updates at facebook.com/jurongrl. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
21 Jurong East Central 1
Bukit Merah Public Library
3779 Jalan Bukit Merah Located near Redhill and Tiong Bahru, this library has a children’s collection on Level 1 featuring everything from children’s magazines, baby books and materials for pre-schoolers to books for older children up to about 12. In addition to rotating educational exhibits and displays, the library holds weekly storytelling sessions for children (Thursdays at 7.30pm for four- to six-year-olds, and Fridays at 7.30pm for kids aged seven to 10) and activities for toddlers, too. Bonus: there’s an HDB playground next to the library entrance! For updates, visit facebook.com/bukitmerahpl. Open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 9pm.
How to sign up for a library membership
The one-time registration fee for foreigners and PRs is $10.50 (and free for Singaporeans), with an annual membership fee of $42.80 for foreigners. Each foreign membership grants a borrowing allowance of eight library materials at a time (including four audio-visual materials). Registration for foreigners must be done in person at a library location, while PRs and Singaporeans can register online. For more details, visit nlb.gov.sg.
For more helpful tips head to our living in Singapore section.
This article first appeared in the September 2017 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!