Bishan Community Library: World’s 7th Most Beautiful Library

Picture by Wojtek Gurak

When we think of libraries, the image of books and study often come to mind. But these days, libraries are evolving into exhibition, event and work spaces. In Singapore, the public libraries are revamped to be more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing so that just about an one can enjoy a relaxing environment working. Aside from the plush seating areas, there are water coolers, toilets, multimedia stations with computers, power points and some libraries even have cafes and vending machines. All public libraries have access to Wireless@SG.

In recent years, Bishan Community Library has the honour of being listed as one of the world’s seven most beautiful libraries by CNN Travel. That makes it in the same league as Seattle’s Central Library and Dublin’s Trinity College Library which are tourist attractions. It scored points for its simple yet quirky and endearing design which was meant to resemble a tree house.There are colourful pods canti-levered off one side of the building’s facade. These pods, aside from having aesthetic purposes, serve as quiet, private spaces for individuals.

The Bishan Community Library is home to three unique clubs. One such club is the Artist Trading Cards Club which meets to create miniature works of art the size of playing cards. Participants learn to create different types of cards and pick up art tips. Then there is the Seniors’ Chinese Reading Club which meets once a month for one and a half ours for a book session in Mandarin, facilitated by librarians. Finally there is the Kelab Baca Si Luncai, a reading club aimed to creatively ignite the passion for reading in both English and Malay in children aged 7 to 10. The sessions consist of games, bilingual story telling and craft activities.

The Toa Payoh Community Library still keeps the charming white and red facade it has always been known for, but on the inside, it has undergone a major facelift. The Children’s Section on the first floor is built like a ship. Those who have fond memories of the nostalgic dragon playground in Toa Payoh will find the hexagonal shapes in the Baby Books’ corner familiar. Senior readers will appreciate the large print books in the second floor of the library, while teenagers have access to graphic novels and audio visual materials tailored for them in the Teens Zone. It is also one of four libraries in Singapore to offer the eReader loan service that allows library users to download eBooks from popular ebook database OverDrive.

This library is the base of the Writing the City Writers’ Group, a community of writers. It brings in monthly workshops that offer participants writing exercises, guest lectures and more exposure to literature. The Creative Crew Workshop brings in industry experts who share experiences on photography, print design, video, web and other graphic and digital media. Talks are free and take lace on every second Tuesday of the month. Last but not least, there is the Thangameen Readers Club to promote confident use of Tamil. It is open to all ages, and organises film screenings, story writing competitions and poetry contests.

If you’re out of ideas for the weekend, why not head over to the library? Just be sure to go early as the seats can fill up pretty quickly.

– This article first appeared in a newsletter for Bishan-Toa Payoh residents

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