Speech by Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at the Opening of My Tree House - The World's 1st Green Library for Kids
Mrs Elaine Ng
Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board
Mr Kwek Leng Joo
Managing Director, City Developments Limited
Children from My First Skool
Good morning. I am really very happy to join you this morning for the opening of My Tree House - our Green Library for Kids.
Library as information resources
Children are an important target for the National Library. One out of every five active members of our library is a child under 12 years of age. In fact, children can be members of the library from the time they are born! The children’s section in all our libraries have high traffic and usage, with the books checked out and returned at very high frequencies.
NLB realised the importance of nurturing the reading habit in our young as early as 1970, during the opening of the Queenstown Public Library, which was the first library to have a dedicated children’s section. So in fact, today, all our 22 Public and three Regional libraries, with the exception of library@esplanade, have a children’s section!
Besides books, children also visit the libraries to take part in activities such as storytelling sessions, reading programmes and art-and craft workshops. Increasingly, our libraries are now a place where children and their families can participate in programmes and activities, and more importantly, have access to a wide range of information resources.
Partnership with the people and private sectors
All these programmes and activities are only possible with the support of volunteers and organisations. For instance, the long-running kidsREAD programme, which started in 2004 to encourage reading among children from low income families, enjoys the strong support of over 1,000 volunteers. Many of these volunteers are from self-help groups, with some of them having volunteered with the library for as long as 9 years. We hope that more of you will step up and give back to the community.
This transformation of the previous children’s section of the Central Public Library, which started at Stamford Road and moved here in 2005, is the result of yet another strong partnership between City Development Limited (CDL) and NLB. Besides providing its building expertise and funding support, CDL has roped in its partners to work with NLB in this exciting green initiative. It is constructed extensively with green materials and energy-efficient fittings, I am pleased to announce that “My Tree House” was awarded the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark Platinum Award in May, a recognition that it has achieved internationally recognized best practices in environmental design and performance. This is indeed a wonderful achievement for our Green Library, and something the Government wants to encourage as many buildings as possible to achieve energy efficiency targets.
Over the years, the National Library has benefited greatly from generous donations from philanthropists and the hard work of our volunteers. And I would like to encourage more to follow CDL’s example today by partnering NLB on innovative projects like “My Tree House”.
On programmes and activities in the library, I am happy to hear that a number of partners have already approached NLB to explore the running of green-themed programmes. Today, we will see the first of such collaborations - a recycled art exhibition by Bart, a cardboard artist, which will be on display here for the next few weeks, giving children an early head-start into art and at the same time, an appreciation for recycling. The library will also be jointly organising programmes with the National Climate Change Secretariat, the National Environment Agency and the National Parks Board in the coming months.
Let me now touch on the collection in the green library. There are some 45,000 books in this library, 30 per cent of which are green-themed covering on animals, plants, nature, water, weather, environment, recycling, and of course, climate change. A lot of thought has been put into the development of this library to create this enjoyable and educational environment, from infrastructure, book collection, to programmes and activities. I hope our parents and our teachers can bring the children and students here to the library to check out the treasure in store!
In closing, I would like to thank CDL and all who have contributed towards making “My Tree House” a reality. And I wish all our children meaningful and enjoyable experiences through NLB’s efforts.