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Apr 30, 2010

Queenstown Public Library - 40th Anniversary

Queenstown Public Library at 53, Margaret Drive, Singapore. Photo taken on 30th April, 2010.

The photo of the Queenstown Branch Library taken in the 1970s...same place, just different time.

The date on this plaque dated 30th April, 1970 exactly 40 years ago today on 30th April, 2010.

"This branch library in Queenstown is a milestone in our rising standards of life. First, they provide a convenient access to books which most people cannot afford to buy. Next, they are sanctuaries of peace and quiet where concentration and better work is possible, particularly when neighbours are inconsiderate. This branch library marks one milestone along the road up the hill towards a more educated society."

"One sign of an educated society is the number of books read by the people. We have had universal primary education for over a decade. Today, we have a literate society. But a literate society is not necessarily an educated society. One test of an educated man is his ability to continue reading and learning throughout his life."

"Unlike countries in the temperate climates, our homes have open windows. They let in noise. For some strange reason, most people insist that others in the neighbourhood should share their TV, Radio, Hifi, mahjong, or just loud conversation. Hence the need for a library."

- Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister (now Minister Mentor), at the opening of the Queenstown Branch Library on 30th April, 1970.
Opening of Queentstown Branch Library.  Courtesy of National Library Board

"...sanctuaries of peace and quiet where concentration and better work is possible".

The 40th anniversary celebration to cut the birthday cake led by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Chairman, National Library Board and Ms Hedwig Anuar, the former Director of National Library who retired in 1988.

A group photo after everyone sang "Happy Birthday" with all best wishes to Queenstown Public Library.

A group photo of the pioneer "Friends of the Library" (FOL) of Queenstown Branch Library, a few of whom are veterans.

Some memories of Queenstown Branch Library:

The building of the library was originally painted in grey when it was opened in 1970. When the library was refurbished recently, the familiar external structure was repainted in bright and attractive orange. The internal design of the library was completely upgraded and renovated. It was almost ten years since my last visit to the Queenstown Branch Library until the 40th anniversary celebration today.

My blog in the first person experience and remembrance brings back fond memories of the first branch library in Singapore after the red-brick National Library at Stamford Road. I was in a sense of sentimental feelings and nostalgic memories to walk down memory lane.

In the early days, the libraries were stacked on metal racks. I could still remember the shelves of computer books beside the opened windows facing the road at Margaret Drive. The library was not air-conditioned. The fans were blowing from the wall; while the afternoon sunshine direct at us when browsing the books.

The Computer & IT books of the latest and updated information technology are now relocated in a more spacious and air-cond comfortable library in the second level of the building. The wooden shelves to blend with the modern, ergonomics design.

The obsolete computer books when I used to loan from the library on DOS, BASIC programming and personal computers of olden days are now found only in the Computer History Museum .

"People of any age can benefit from becoming educated about something new" - R. Knight Steel

40th "Happy Birthday" to Queenstown Public Library!

Updated sources excerpt:
Straits Times, Saturday, 1 May, 2010.
By Maria Almenoar & Bryan Toh

It may be the oldest in town but its pull is just as strong and revamps help keep it current

Mr Vincent Tan, who has been using the Queenstown Public Library since it opened its doors 40 years ago, recalls the excitement it generated when it was being built. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

PASIR Ris resident Vincent Tan lives just five minutes away from the library in his neighbourhood, but he does not go there.

Instead, he makes the 40-minute trek to the Queenstown Public Library on Margaret Drive to borrow books.

'It's quaint and the newer libraries just don't have the same feel that this library does,' said the 52-year-old systems analyst.

Queenstown Public Library, the oldest standing library and the first neighbourhood library, turned 40 yesterday.

The National Library's former premises on Stamford Road was 44 when it was torn down.

Mr Tan recalled how he watched as the two-storey Queenstown library, which retains its original facade and fence, was built brick by brick by samsui women.

'There was so much excitement in the neighbourhood as it was being built. Most of our homes were cramped and crowded, but the library was cosy.'

Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew, who was the guest of honour at yesterday's celebrations, noted that for library visitors like Mr Tan, public libraries are more than just physical spaces for books.

'Our libraries form a social glue that binds members of our community together to enhance Singapore's cohesiveness and contribute to a culturally vibrant and gracious society,' he told the audience, made up of former staff members and members of the community.

The library network, he said, has grown from just one public library in 1970 to 22 islandwide.

A recent report by The Straits Times shows residents are borrowing more books. Almost 30 million books were borrowed last year, a 9 per cent jump from the year before. The Queenstown library alone loans out about a million a year.

Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, who worked at the library from 1980 to 1982, remembers how crowded it was in the early days, when it was one of just a few libraries in Singapore. Now the National Library Board's director of reading initiatives, she added: 'Nowadays, its quieter and not so hectic, but people still come, as it is a very family-oriented place.'

She noted how the library had also revamped itself to keep with the times. It was the first library to be fully air-conditioned, and also the first to computerise its services. It also has a cafe, workshop area for activities, and computer stations.

'The furniture is all different now but there is still that home-away-from-home feeling,' said Mr Tan.



Blogger Lam Chun See said...

This was and still is my favourite branch. In the early days, I often came here becos it was very near to my home in Farrer Rd. Later when I had my family, my wife and I often brought our kids here.

I think many Sporeans have fond memories of this library and Queenstown in general. In fact when I first blogged about Queenstown here in 2007, I received many comments and inputs; and even now there are still occasional comments.

Recently, I went back to take many photos of this area; especially the Queenstown Remand Prison buildings becos I heard they plan to redevelop it.

May 3, 2010 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the links to Queenstown in your previous "Good Morning Yesterday" blogs. My visit to the Queenstown Public Library on 30 April, 2010 took some photos which will be posted as my next blog. Your related posts will be linked to your relevant blogs which triggered my memories of Queenstown as I remembered them...same, same but different ; ) Akan datang! Cheers!

May 3, 2010 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger dsowerg said...

Queenstown was my first "home" library too, as I was living at Commonwealth Crescent at that time. The distinctive frontage left the greatest impression on me. I think it was painted blue last time.

I moved to Ang Mo Kio in 1980 and the AMK library became my next "home" library for more than 20 years.

May 17, 2010 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for sharing Eve+Line. The present color scheme of the Queenstown Public Library building is very bright and outstanding.

Hmm...interesting. Pls be my guest blogger or post your own blog to share with us the memories of the Ang Mo Kio Library as a 'home' for twenty years.

May 20, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

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