Thursday, March 24, 2005

NLB Libraries to open longer on weekends

Many years ago (sorry, I'm too lazy to find out when was this exactly, but you could ask Reference Point), public libraries in Singapore (including the National Reference Library) did not open on Sundays. Around mid 1980s (I think), they opened longer on Saturdays (till 5pm, instead of closing at 1pm) and opened on Sundays (1pm to 5pm).

Come 1 Apr 2005, public library opening hours will be extended (10am to 9pm, except for libraries in shopping malls which will open from 11am to 9pm), and will stay the same 7 days a week. I've posted the official press release below.

Prior to 1 Apr 2005, we have people asking why the library cannot open earlier in the morning, say 9am even (some libraries opening only at 12pm). They don't accept the explanation that library staff need time to put things back in order, especially the messy books left behind by readers who, well, just don't care. Enuff said.

I view the extension of opening hours as a good thing. It will mean greater convenience to our users. NLB is extending the operating hours without incurring additional manpower costs, i.e. my colleagues in the front lines now have to work longer on weekends. Most of the frontline staff accept this as part of the job. In anycase, I hope some of the very critical customers out there appreciate this. A thank you or a compliment now and then would not hurt at all.

Here's the press release:
Libraries to open longer on weekends

Singapore, 22 March 2005 – In reaching out to more Singaporeans to read and learn and make libraries their next most frequented place after the home and workplace, the National Library Board (NLB) today announced the extension and standardization of operating hours for all its regional and community library branches. The new operating hours of the libraries, located island-wide, will be effective from 1 April 2005.

1. Regional and standalone community libraries will open their doors from 10am to 9pm from Mondays to Sundays. Previously, these libraries closed at 5 pm on weekends. The longer opening hours will allow library customers to use the libraries in the evenings and on weekends as well. This revision will also allow for families to utilise library facilities after dinner, promoting family bonding whilst encouraging the fostering of good reading habits.

2. Meanwhile, community libraries in shopping malls will be open from 11am to 9pm from Mondays to Sundays, in line with the operating hours of shopping malls and catering to the needs of nearby communities. Currently, some of the libraries close at 8pm on weekends. The extended opening hours in the popular shopping mall libraries will allow customers to enjoy the library facilities and materials while visiting the shopping malls.

3. A total of about 2 million people in FY 2003 made on-site enquiries at the libraries island wide, 30% more than in FY 2002. This indicated a rise in demand for library services and availability, and thus, it is timely the opening hours for libraries are extended.

4. Visitorship for standalone libraries saw an average of 7,000 and 4,000 visitors for Saturdays and Sundays respectively, while regional libraries had an average visitorship of 12,000 and shopping mall libraries 10,000 for each of these days. Operating hours have been extended to meet this keen demand for library services, especially over the weekend as more people are moving into the five day-work week.

5. “This extension and standardisation of library operating hours is all about making information and library materials readily available and convenient to Singaporeans,” said Ms Tay Ai Cheng, Senior Director, Library Management and Operations Group. “We have listened to customer feedback, and we hope this will make the libraries much more accessible to more people, especially on the weekends.”

6. Said Mr. Alfred Wee, Chairman, Sembawang NorthOaks-Woodsvale Neighbourhood Committee, “NLB’s move to extend the operating hours of its libraries is commendable, as it gives more opportunities for Singaporeans to read and learn. For instance, I visit the Woodlands Regional Library. With the library now opening at 10am, more parents like myself and our children can spend a longer time at the library on weekends.”

7. And as part of its effort to improve customer services, NLB will be moving its National Reference Library on 18 April 2005, currently situated at its temporary location on Levels 2 and 3 of the Jurong Regional Library (JRL), to a bigger and more accessible space at the new National Library building which will open this year. A smaller reference collection will be available in its place at JRL from 9 May 2005 to allow customers to continue to research for information. Customers will be able to access reference materials such as general and subject encyclopaedias, dictionaries, statistical yearbooks, almanacs, directories and newspapers published since 1981 as well as popular educational and business journals and management titles.

8. For more information on NLB’s library branches and hours, members of the public can refer to the NLB website at or call 63323255.

22 MARCH 2005


  1. Anonymous10:16 am

    1) Agreed that longer operating hours is a customer centric move.

    2)Just want to check when you say increase operating hours at no added manpower cost - how is done ? i am a bit skeptical on this remark..

  2. No additional manpower costs, as in, for every hour we open longer on weekends, we don't hire a proportionate number of staff to maintain those hours.

    Each branch tackles this in slightly different ways because there are many factors to consider, like total loading (items returned), floor area, number of counters, size of collection, actual staff headcount etc.

    But generally, we achieve it by:
    (1) staff working longer hours on weekends (i.e. more staff on weekends), but adjustments made for weekdays such that on the whole, staff do not work more than what HR policy dictates;

    (2)relooking into the way tasks are assigned, and/ or removing redundant tasks,

    (3)leveraging on IT (e.g. repeative tasks are provided via self-service stations).

    Of course you are right in suspecting there must be some additional costs. I'd clarify that there ARE costs -- just not what you think.

    I'd say the costs are the opportunity costs of working on weekends, and this cost is absorbed by my colleagues in the front lines.

  3. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  4. You're most welcome welcome welcome welcome welcome... (What the? Where are all these echoes coming from?)


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