5 things you didn't know you could do at Singapore libraries

5 things you didn't know you could do at Singapore libraries

Anyone who actually reads for leisure knows that the library is a goldmine and can save you a ton of money while satisfying your rapacious appetite for the written word. But what if you're one of those people who scrunch up their faces and proudly declare, "I hate reading"?

If you haven't stepped into the national library since primary school, you would be shocked to know that there's a whole lot you can do for free or at a very low cost. Here are some things you didn't know you could do at the library.

1. Borrow DVDs

I suspect quite a few of you still remember the days when Video Ezy was still running a thriving business, back in the dark ages before YouTube existed and movie downloads could take weeks. Those days are now over, but let's face it, not everyone wants to endure the sometimes poor quality on streaming sites or slow down the entire house's internet connection downloading the gigantic Blueray version of that movie.

Unknown to many, the Library@Esplanade probably has more DVDs than Video Ezy ever did, and best of all they're all absolutely free to borrow. If you work in the nearby CBD, this is basically a ticket to free movie rentals for the rest of your working life.

2. Have a jam session

As most Singaporean homes are bereft of garages or basements, having a jam session at home is often out of the question, unless you're good enough to make your neighbours actually enjoy the music. Unfortunately, jam sessions at studios don't come that cheap.

Believe it or not, Library@Esplande has a silent studio that makes use of JamHub mixer technology to ensure that all sounds emerge only from headphones. You can bring your own instruments or use those at the library. And best of all, it costs just $6.50 per hour, which is a pittance if you share the cost with your band members.

If you're more into Mozart than Metallica, there are also piano practice rooms for rent at $6.10 an hour.

3. Borrow e-readers and iPads

If you've ever shot envious looks across a crowded MRT cabin at the guy with the Kindle, now you can get one of your own-for a while anyway. Several public libraries now let users borrow e-readers, while Bedok Public Library has iPads for loan as well. All you have to do is show up for an introductory workshop and the device is yours to keep, for a few weeks at least.

Here's a list of libraries that loan e-readers:

- Ang Mo Kio Public Library

- Bedok Public Library (has iPads too)

- Geylang East Public Library

- Jurong West Public Library

- Toa Payoh Public Library

4. Rock out at a live concert

If you enjoy attending live music performances, learn more towards jazz/classical but can't afford to pay to go to gigs too often, check out the roster of programmes at Library@Esplanade, where free performances are organised on a regular basis.

There's the Jazz for Curious Listeners series, where newbies who want to get into jazz can learn that it's so much more than Michael Buble, while there on Sundays there are often piano or chamber music recitals.

5. Attend a free workshop

Before throwing yourself into the thick of a new hobby and an expensive lesson subscription, there's some merit in sampling it first to see if it really suits you-preferably for free. Or perhaps you just want to dabble in something new without making an upfront investment.

That's where the various free workshops at libraries all over Singapore come in handy. There's an ever-popular leather craft workshop that's perpetually fully booked by hipsters all over the island, photography and graphic design classes as well as introductory dance lessons. Check out the calendar of events here to reserve seats in advance.

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