First National Reading Day in Singapore to fall on July 30

Siti Sapura, 46, and her son Dhiya Durrani Ashraf Adri, 8, are part of the Malay-language reading club at Tampines Regional Library.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

FROM bringing specially curated reading materials to offices to transforming an MRT train into a mobile digital library, the National Library Board (NLB) is going all out to get more people to read.

It is starting a National Reading Movement, and will mark Singapore's first National Reading Day on July 30. It will also conduct a nationwide survey on reading habits to better understand how to promote the activity.

The push comes amid survey results that paint a sobering picture of reading here.

Only 44 per cent of respondents in a year-long National Arts Council survey, which ended last year, had read at least one "literary book".

And only half of Singapore residents had used library services in the past year, an NLB survey found last July.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim told Parliament yesterday that NLB will focus on three priorities for a start: reaching out to new audiences, encouraging reading in the mother tongue languages and expanding its network of partners to better court readers.

Adults are among those the NLB hopes to get on board, he said. Work commitments may leave them with less time to pick up a book so NLB is looking to "bring books to (them), instead of merely encouraging people to come to the books".

It plans to create more chances for reading while on the move and in offices.

It is looking at curating short articles for commuters to access on mobile devices.

Later this year, NLB and the Land Transport Authority will launch a library-themed MRT train. Users can scan QR codes with their mobile devices to download e-books over the NLB mobile app, or access content like short essays.

Under a new Read@Work programme, the NLB will partner companies to curate reading materials tailored to them, such as on industry trends.

It is also reaching out to seniors, a group identified as the least frequent library user.

Only 24 per cent of those aged 60 and above visit public libraries while less than 20 per cent borrow library materials.

NLB plans to expand its range of reading programmes for seniors, start book clubs and set up more reading corners at community spaces.

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