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Mar 28, 2009

NLB eResources Training for Seniors

Actually, I am supposed to blog about the “NLB eResources Training for Seniors” which I attended on 27 March, 2009 at the National Library Building. []

Since I am blogging as an individual participant to express my personal learning experience at the training session, I decided to use an informal blog style instead of the usual news magazine reporting format.

Please bear with me while I ramble a little bit, a little "lor sor" (long-winded). I am in the mood to reminisce about my love affair with the library since my young days.

I must thank my late mother for bringing me to the library over 50 years ago when I was in Primary 3. (By the way, this is not a “thank father, thank mother” type of blog. I beg your pardon).

Although my mother was a simple lady without formal education and could only write numbers in Chinese, who speaks to me in Hokien dialect during her lifetime, she realized the importance of education and always drummed into my mind that I must learn to read and write “ang moh” (English). On the advice of wise neighbors, I was switched to an English school after 2 years in a Chinese primary school. I did not have any choice in deciding what language school I should attend. That's a long story which I will blog about at another time on a different blog.

Back to the library visit with my mother. The first library I visited and joined as a member was the Raffles Library, which was located at a small corner of the present National Museum of Singapore building before the recent renovation. (Photo above)

Whenever I visit the library during my young days, I could spend the whole day there poring over the children's books with colorful pictures and simple words which I learn in school, and more. It was as if I was transported to a world of animals, of fairy tales and of adventures. In primary school, my favorite was the “Famous Five", “Secret Seven” and other adventure series written by Enid Blyton. Although I did not buy any of the books, I have read them all...loaned from the National Library.

I am grateful that I have such a close affinity with the National Library which is my constant provider for knowledge and joy in books. It has nourished me over the years with the learning resources which is available free of charge for all Singaporeans. It is and will always be my learning haven for as long as I am physically fit to make a trip to the library and whenever I have the time to do so. Don't ask me to “get a life”. The library is my belongs to all Singaporeans too!

In her opening address, Ms Veronica Boudville, Deputy Director, Public Libraries Singapore, traced the history of the National Library and its development and changes over the years. She also introduced the wide range of innovative amenities and library services available at the Central Library and the various branches.

I sought Veronica's permission to quote her, though not in her exact words.

She mentioned that a visit to the National Library is “recession-proof”, and there is free access to the reading material, audio-books, multi-media resources for all library members.

So it doesn't matter that the world is going through a period of “economic tsunami", the National Library is always there for now and will be in the future (unless a real tsunami catastrophe sweeps our land away (God forbids) to serve the intellectual and learning needs of everyone, including many foreign visitors who do a bulk of their research at “The People's Library”.

Dr N Varaprasad, the Chief Executive of the National Library Board, wrote in the Foreword of “THE PEOPLE’S LIBRARY", a publication to commemorate 50 years of National and Public Library Services: “....In the coming years, we will continue to respond to the changing needs of Singaporeans by innovating and delivering a library and information service that is trusted, accessible and globally-connected, for all Singaporeans.”

A visit to the National Library will convince you that Singapore has a modern, world-class, public library which all Singaporeans should be proud of.

We must also express our gratitude to Mr Lee Kong Chian, the Singaporean philanthropist and multi-millionaire businessman who generously donated to the National Library to benefit Singaporeans from all walks of life. As a tribute to this great man, the "Lee Kong Chian Reference Libraries" are named after him.

The public libraries which I visited in USA and Canada are not as architecturally ergonomic and high-tech as our own. Those libraries were old ones which have not been upgraded. However, there may have been new developments since I last visited them several years ago.

The next item on the training schedule was “Services for Senior by Public Libraries”.

It was presented by Miss Lim Hwa Shan, a friendly and helpful library officer, who kindly gave me a printout of her presentation slide with the following quotation as I could not copy it in my notebook fast enough before it moves on to the next slide.

Here it is for sharing, with the kind courtesy of Hwa Shan:

“Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise and promotes longevity. Never use age as an excuse for not learning or challenging your intellect.

By Dr Roger Henderson"

Her presentation included topics on “ASK!", An Advisory & Enquiry Service at the Public Library, “What's in store – Read, Access, Learn, Join, Participate” and recommendation of book titles which are of interest to seniors.

After the tea-break, Mr Robin DRESEL, Associate II, Customer Relations of Public Libraries Singapore gave a demo on eResources with step-by-step slide presentation which seniors participants could easily follow. He deliberately skipped irrelevant web-links at the portal at to save time and focus on what the participants need to know.

Every participant was presented with a “goodies bag” containing the “Celebrating Libraries” and “The People’s Library” published by the National Library Board, Singapore.

I appreciate Robin's guidance and demonstration on how I could do a search for “Just Fancy That” articles which were published in past issues of the Straits Times in eResources newspaper section.

Although I would still have to go to the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library (Level 11), NLB to view the microfilms as these databases are not accessible from home due to licensing restrictions, I could save time and effort by checking the date of publication and relevant pages before going to the library to do my research. Thanks for the helpful tips, Robin!

For the hands-on session at the eResources training, there were 10 laptop computers hooked on to the Internet for the participants to get a feel of the “Digital Age”…the future is now!

There is much more to learn at the training session which I hope will be conducted at other branch libraries for the convenience of seniors staying in the heartland.

I shall not reveal the entire contents of the training session as future participants may think that they already know what the training is all about. You have to be there to experience the new world of the “digital age”. This blog is not like a full-length movie. Its only the trailer :)

As the training session was specially tailored for senior citizens, the wonderful people who organised it had done a splendid job to research and present topics which are informative and relevant to us. Thanks also to the “Friends of the Library” volunteers who were there to guide the participants during the hands-on session. Well Done! Thanks to everyone in the project team.

I want to thank Ivan Chew, the Rambling Librarian at for extending me an invitation to attend the training session, else I would have missed it.



Blogger huasan71 said...

Brother you are much more fortunte than me. I grew up in a Kampong call "Cheng San" next to Serangoon Garden. Dad and mum though believe in the importance of education was too busy strugging to make a living with our tiny provision shop which need to feed a total of 9 mouths. There was no such thing as library as it was in some far away corner of Singapore and we don't have the bus fare to go there.So I have to make do with whatever reading material that I can get from school. Off course being in the same era I also loved to read all the stories of Enid Blyton but think only manage to get hold of few of them. Then my other favourite is Sherlock Homes by Conan Doyle(I think)

Dad is a typical Chinaman and ruled us with an "iron hand". We hardly have time to rest the minute we put down our school bags we have to look after the shop, made deliveries and other tasks except school works. That can only be done after the shop closed at 9 pm. By then we are already too tired to do anything. To make matter worse, I have nobody to turn to when I needed help as elder sister was from Chines School. Fortunate for me and my 2nd brother we managed to scrap through with a School Certificate. Younger brother was not so lucky and landed himself as a bus driver. Things were pretty bad then and we are living from hand to mouth. Sometimes the whole family only got 2 fried eggs fried with some flour and rice, even the vegetable was plucked "free" from our neighbour.

So its also a good experience that we have been brought up in poverty. At lease we learn the value of money.

In life don't bargain for too much, just pray to the Lord that you are in good health and thank Him for all the blessings.

March 29, 2009 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I like your blog's new look.

I was also invited to this seminar but couldn't make it. A pity.

Amen to huason71's last sentence.

March 31, 2009 at 10:20 AM  
Blogger Ivan Chew said...

Hi James, thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I'm a little embarrassed you thanked me, 'cos I did very little for this event other than extending the invitation to you! :)

I'll be forwarding your post to my colleagues involved in conceiving and implementing the event. They'd be delighted that the session was useful.

March 31, 2009 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hua San, alas...i hear from you. Thank you for expressing your thoughts to share with us. What each individual went through during the same period in different families is unique. To survive through adversity is true grit,,,I salute you, brother.

April 1, 2009 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you, Chun See.

I believe NLB will repeat the eResources training either at the same venue or at other branch libraries in the heartland. Hope you will be able to attend the next session.

April 1, 2009 at 7:08 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Ivan,

不客气, 不客气!

Thank you for giving me the chance to have something to blog about :)

The suggestions and feedbacks from participants on what they need to learn will help the organisers to improve the training sessions in future. Lets hear what other participants say and to share their ideas.

April 1, 2009 at 7:31 AM  

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