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This book lover is transforming the library-going experience
By Tan Ee Ming
Librarian Rosxalynd Liu believes that public libraries are not just a gateway to knowledge, but a community space to spark new ideas. PHOTO: Frenchescar Lim

Ms Rosxalynd Liu believes public libraries are not just a gateway to learning and knowledge, but a community space to spark ideas and innovation.

Whenever people hear about Ms Rosxalynd Liu’s job at the National Library Board (NLB), they joke that all she does is stamp library books.

However, they are mistaken. To Ms Liu, libraries are not just about books; they brim with creativity and cutting-edge technologies.

As a librarian, she has organised workshops on coding and 3D printing; seen youths making use of NLB’s online resources for research or school projects; ramped up outreach through social media like TikTok; and is constantly finding ways to transform libraries into vibrant and accessible spaces.

“With the Internet, our definition of reading has expanded beyond books and includes learning through articles, videos, workshops and courses,” says Ms Liu, a manager at NLB’s Strategy (Planning and Foresight) Division.

Ms Liu, who took up the NLB Undergraduate Scholarship in her third year at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), takes delight in revamping libraries and turning them into exciting, futuristic places.

The Linguistics and Multilingual Studies graduate was part of the team to close the old Bukit Panjang Public Library in 2016 and launch the renovated library the following year. Its expansion included two separate wings at opposing ends of the mall for children and adults – the first of its kind.

Having spent much of her primary school days devouring novels at the Bukit Panjang Public Library, where she also volunteered during her secondary school days, Ms Liu says it was emotional to witness the closure of an era.

“However, I am excited to usher in a new library that is forward-looking and ready for the future,” she says.

To make technology accessible to everyone, it is the first library in Singapore to have a Stories Come Alive Room which uses moving images, light and sound effects to make storytelling an immersive and interactive experience for children. Meanwhile, e-newspaper reading stations make it easy for the elderly to catch up on news.

She was also involved in setting up the first MakeIT at Libraries makerspace at Jurong Regional Library, where even elderly library-goers were able to learn coding or make 3D parts for their IT gadgets and robotic toys.

THE FUTURE OF LIBRARIES

Convinced that libraries are a gateway into the future, Ms Liu pursued Library and Information Studies MA at the University of College London from 2017 to 2018 under the sponsorship of the NLB Postgraduate Scholarship.

There, Ms Liu learnt all about the global library industry, cataloguing, information literacy, information governance and data protection.

Armed with her experience, Ms Liu landed a role with the Planning and Foresight Team in the Strategy Division. Today, she coordinates engagements with stakeholders to reimagine the libraries and archives for NLB’s LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025).

Currently, the LAB25 team has been busy liaising with shopping malls to spread awareness about LAB25 and invite people to share what kind of content they want to see in the future.

Various models have inspired her, such as the staffless Taipei Public Library East Metro Mall Intelligent Library, the Library Book Dispenser in Taipei, and the short story vending machine for London’s commuters. There was also Stuttgart City Library, which has “books” created by kids for other children to read.

“What keeps me going every day is the knowledge that I am contributing to the betterment of the people by improving access to information,” she says.

“I would like to see Singapore libraries become a more vibrant and lively community space for people to gather – not just for reading, but to exchange ideas and interests.”

EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

When Ms Liu was reading Library and Information Studies MA at the University of College London, her classmates offered tours to private academic libraries, such as the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford (including Duke Humfrey’s Library, the filming location of the Hogwarts Library’s “restricted section” in the Harry Potter series.)

Through the school’s connections and tours, she also got to see the Coronation Bible Queen Elizabeth swore her oath on during her coronation at the Lambeth Palace Library; the heavy books chained to the shelves at the Chetham’s Library, the English-speaking world’s oldest known free public library still in use (since 1600s); and The Wiener Holocaust Library, the oldest library for Holocaust and genocide-related materials.

Visit nlb.gov.sg/Careers/NLBScholarships.aspx for more information. 

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