Saturday, August 30, 2008

Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS): Consultation Paper - Engaging New Media

My friend Cool Insider, Walter, alerted a bunch of us to the recently published report and recommendations by the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society, or AIMS (

AIMS, started in 2007, is a 13-member panel appointed by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) to study the impact of new media on Singapore.

The panel was tasked to:
  • To study the far-reaching social, ethical, legal and regulatory implications of a rapidly-growing Interactive Digital Media sector (IDM); and
  • To make recommendations to the Government on how these issues should be managed while keeping pace with the development of IDM in Singapore.
The panel's first report can be downloaded via this link (there's more reports to come, apparently).

The report would interest those interested in how the new media scene in Singapore would develop (gee, this line sounds like a bad book review, LOL!)
AIMS consultation paper - Engaging New Media.pdf (105 pages)

The 105-page report has four main chapters: E-Engagement, Online Political Content, Protection of Minors, Intermediary Immunity for Online Defamation -- what the panel calls "time-sensitive issues".
AIMS consultation paper - Engaging New Media (105 pages)

From their Executive Summary (p.5-17), the main recommendations are:
  • On E-Engagement: For the Singapore Government to reconsider its "cautious approach to engaging the public through new media" (p. 6) and to "push further ahead with e-engagement". The panel acknowledges there are risks if e-engagement is not properly thought through and implemented. They propose that the Government continue to invest in research and learn from countries which have started the process of e-engagement. Page 8 has a summary of some concrete steps on how to embark on e-engagement.

  • On Online Political Content: To liberalise Section 33 of the Films Act that prohibits the making, distributing and exhibiting of party political films. The ideal situation would be to create "maximum space for political discourse, but be sensitive at the same time to the need to keep out harmful material online". The panel suggests these ways to liberalise the law -- One is to narrow the scope of the law; Two is to repeal Section 33 altogether; Three is a combination of One and Two and repeal the Films Act in phases.

  • On Protection of Minors: The panel suggests that the longer term solution is to focus on education (on online dangers and safeguards) among the young and their parents. The current Family Access Network service provided by all ISPs [see editor's note at this page] should be made free to Singaporean households who wish to have it. More local research is needed to find solutions tailored to Singapore's context. Also, to collaborate with overseas counterparts to share research, ideas and resources on the universal issue of protecting minors. The panel also called for volunteers and community participation in the area of Cyber-safety. And to implement the above recommendations, AIMS also recommends an annual fund for the protection of minors and to a dedicated coordinating agency for the protection of minors. Finally, to lift the (symbolic) ban on 100 websites, once all the proposed measures are in place.

  • On Intermediary Immunity for Online Defamation: For the law to give limited immunity for Internet content hosts and aggregators where civil and criminal liability for defamation are concerned, if those intermediaries have acted in good faith and implement "take down" actions of defamatory content.

I spent maybe 35 minutes going through the report. It's an easy to read report with some illuminating insights on how other countries are dealing with similar issues.

For example, page 18 (E-Engagement) briefly explains how a student Facebook campaign forced HSBC bank to re-think its move to scrap its interest-free overdraft facility for British students leaving university (BBC article here, as cited in the report).

Pages 19 to 23 talks about the trends in New Media, Web 2.0, Blogging as a significant development, the "mass democratisation of information", using new media as a public forum.

Pages 23 to 24, and 27 to 30 suggests why the Singapore government needs to engage online.

Chapter Two - Online Political Content - was useful to me in understanding the background and issues surrounding the Films Act, Internet election advertising and political broadcasts. There's a coverage of how Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Canada deal with online elections advertising.

It also mentions the Singapore government's Light Touch policy towards Internet regulation. On page 41, the report asks if current regulations are still relevant, citing instances from the 2008 Malaysian general election and the 2007 Australian elections.

On the start of the report, on page four, it says:
The Council is aware that these recommendations will not satisfy everyone. There is always room for improvement and areas to study more closely. The Internet is a never-ending worldwide conversation. We see the recommendations in this report as part of an ongoing conversation that started when the Internet became part of our lives. To aid us in our efforts, we welcome feedback from the public to help us improve on our recommendations.

At the AIMS website, there is a feedback form for public to submit comments.

They plan to launch a blog on 1 September 2008. [Update: the blog is at]

[Related - TODAYonline's article on the Protection of Minors recommendation].

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why Kevin Googles instead of using his library

Kevin wrote about his recent problem in locating a book at his university's library.
  • At first, he couldn't find the book on the shelf even though the OPAC said it was available.
  • After he contacted the librarian (via their IM service), he was informed that it was at the New Arrivals shelf.
  • His next problem was not being able to locate the New Arrivals shelf.
Seems to me the problem could be avoided in the first place if the OPAC record showed both the permanent shelf location AND its temporary location (i.e. New Arrivals).

Admittedly, this is also a limitation of the our public library's OPAC. The current OPAC system can only display the permanent location.

I had to smile at Kevin's photo. He wrote a note that says "Access Denied" and placed it where the book should be.

Come to think of it, this is a simple solution for library's whose OPAC cannot show the temporary location. If the volume of new arrivals isn't too high, I suppose it's worth the time to place temporary placeholders to direct users to the new arrival shelf.

In the second instance, it appeared that Kevin encountered a "navigational" issue within his library. I've not been to UB library so I can't comment on how clear its directions are.

This isn't a problem unique to libraries. We encounter the same thing in any large and unfamiliar location -- roads, shopping malls.

Kevin's suggestion of having in-library GPS is a dream for many librarians. If the technology becomes cheap enough, I'm sure libraries would be the first to implement it.

But from Kevin's post, I noted several things that were right.
  • He got the book eventually!
  • The book was acquired by his library, and he learned about it by checking his library's website
  • His library provided access to the librarians via Instant Messaging
I suppose I'm making a biased comment here (being a librarian myself) but in the age of Google and the Internet, it's easy to see what's wrong with the physical library service rather than what's done right.

Systems can be upgraded. Directional signages can be improved.

But I think what's more important is dialogue between library users and librarians.

No system is perfect.

In the midst of running the library, things are overlooked.

I'm glad Kevin blogged about it, and also offered constructive suggestions. I wonder if he sent his UB librarian his blog post link. I know the NLB libraries appreciates -- and acts -- on feedback like this.

Libraries may not be able to right every wrong immediately.

But what tends to tip the scale in favour of users would be the feedback of the majority.

When enough users ask for the same things -- constructively -- it'll be foolish for the library not to act.

Of course not everyone would want to inform the library directly. Libraries need to proactively seek what customers are saying -- in blogs, forums etc.

Or perhaps help from Friends of Libraries to pass those information along.

Libraries and libraries can always use whatever help we can get :)

[Related: 23 Jul 06 - A long term solution for how the library collection is organised?]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Author Anita Desai at the National Library

Just saw this at High Browse Online:
Meet novelist, short-story writer and children’s author Anita Desai in person! Don’t miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to speak to one of the world’s most eminent writers!

Details as follows:

Monday, 25 August 2008
7.00 pm
The Pod, Level 16, National Library
Admission is Free. All are Welcome

More about Anita Desai:

Now a Professor of Humanities at MIT, Anita Desai was born in India in 1937 to an Indian father and a German mother. She was three-times nominated for the Booker Prize, but ironically, in a twist of fate, her daughter, Kiran Desai, won the prize in 2006 for her book The Inheritance of Loss. In 1993 Merchant Ivory released a film based on one of her books, In Custody. In 1990, she was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s highest artistic honour.

Cry, the Peacock
Call No.: DES
Anita’s first novel in 1963 sets out
the major themes that would
occupy her writing – the tensions
between modernity and tradition,
especially on Anglicized middle-class
Indian women.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kankakee Public Library revisited

I love Kankakee Public Library. I've blogged about their library several times.

On my way back from IFLA 2008, I made a personal stopover in the city of Kankakee for a short visit to their library. It was nice to see Cindy (if only briefly, as she was on leave), Steve and Camille again.

Their library occupies three floors of this building, with a fourth floor being added.
Kankakee Public Library Kankakee Public Library

Cindy (director) and Steve (assistant director) were so cordial and nice when I visited them in 2005. I remembered how they shared their vision for their library. They also asked interested questions about how we did things in Singapore. I also met Camille (in charge of Youth services) who was clearly enthused and passionate about her work.

This time I met Allison (head of Adult Services and active blogger at their staff blog), after corresponding with her over email for about two years

[Btw a belated congratulations Allison, for I just learned from your library website that you've been awarded winner of the 2008 Deborah Dowley Prelser Award by the Illinois Library Association.]
Allison Beasley - Illinois Library Association the winner of the 2008 Deborah Dowley Prelser Award

Allison, Steve and I had a brief chat in Steve's office.
Kankakee Public Library

Steve shared about their new plans for their library extension. The additional floor would have an auditorium. In the layout drawing that Steve printed, I noticed an area in the auditorium marked as "podcast/ vodcast room".

I said out loud, "This must be (planned) by Steve!" :)

The new floor will also have a room with the equipment for library users to create their own podcasts and vodcast. They have the option of letting the library use the audios and videos.

I asked how they would ensure the content is appropriate. Steve said the library wouldn't be obligated to use everything that users produce (makes perfect sense to me).

Their podcasts have 1,800 downloads a month (wow!). They make their podcasts available via iTunes, which was a clever way of making their podcasts more accessible.

Services to teens
I was particularly interested in their services to teens. Camille took time out of her schedule to meet me.

Camille (didn't take a picture with her, unfortunately) shared about how this book was the current favourite (something like 790 reservation requests, woah!).
Kankakee Public Library Kankakee Public Library

She informed me about how the trend of crossover titles and authors (i.e. authors who typically wrote for teens were writing for the adult market, and vice cersa) encouraged teens to move into adult collections.

I noticed this poster on the table and asked about it. Camille explained that this was a programme by application only. It was specifically targeted at male teens. The application form even required parental consent (which I thought was a good way to engage the parents in the programme).

Basically, the participants (about 10 per programme) learn how to use Mac computers to produce content (visual, audio, video). I think they get to go on study trips too.
Kankakee Public Library
[I'll ask Allison if they can share more about this programme in their staff blog].

Camille showed me their Manga and Anime collections. The Manga collections were more popular than the DC or Marvel ones, she said.

From our conversations about YP collections, it's clear we share the same issues. It's interesting to learn how they tackle it. For instance, they also have parents who complain that some graphic novels seem violent and have scantily clad women.

Kankakee PL's response was to explain their collections policy (they remove the offensive titles if required). They'd post bookmarks and posters near the Manga section, informing parents that some Manga and graphic novel titles require parental guidance.

Here's a neat idea: Spa Night for teen girls!

Teen girls were introduced to topics like personal grooming and health. Related books and materials were also introduced.

I asked Camille if they have gaming in the library. She said they've introduced it for some time now, and they found it successful in attracting teens to the library (which they subsequently introduce related books as part of the event). Male teens is their primary target group.

She said the ALA now has an advocacy page on gaming in libraries (see this and this).

I can go on with nice things to say about Kankakee PL.

But the best compliment may have come from my friend.

My friend lives and work near Kankakee. He isn't a librarian. He drove me to the library that day and he stayed to chat with Steve and Allison.

Later as we drove away, my friend said he was impressed with what Kankakee Public Library did. That their work was "uplifting" during this difficult economic situation they are facing (case in point -- that day's paper reported funding cuts for schools in their area).

I understand exactly what my friend meant by uplifting.

Kankakee Public Library, especially their staff, throws off positive vibes.

Kankakee Public Library

Saturday, August 16, 2008

IFLA 2008 (part 16): Last SC meeting & Goodbye, Quebec City

[From Part 15]

15 Aug, 2008. Quebec City.

Second & last SC meetingSecond and final Standing Committee (SC) meeting.

We discussed the rest of the agenda items left over from the first meeting.

Confirmation of the Section's strategic plan for 2009-2010. A review of the Section's programmes and presentation over the last five days. Agreement on the venue of the mid-year meeting (which I won't be attending), preliminary ideas for the pre-conference and conference in 2009, and even some ideas for 2010.

Somehow it felt like more was accomplished at this year's meeting.

Maybe it's because we finalised a few things.

Like the revised YA guidelines announced and presented on Tuesday (much work done by a colleague from the US). And a position paper on Information Literacy (thanks to a Japanese colleague).

Also some concrete steps on these two proposals. We've agreed they will proceed as projects.

Then it's a final round of good-byes.

It's back to own countries and our day-jobs.

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

OK, time to pack my bag.

It's been a pleasant and safe stay in Quebec City.

Au revoir.

Quebec City suburbs Quebec city suburbs

Quebec City Convention Center Quebec City Rene-Levesque

Quebec City - Old City Wall

Quebec City street Quebec City - flowering cans

Quebec City fort walls

Friday, August 15, 2008

IFLA 2008 (part 15): Interview with "Pliny the Librarian" from Norway

[From Part 14]

14 Aug 2008. Quebec City, Canada.

I met Pliny the Librarian in person today. We even have an impromptu 10-minute video interview!

Totally unplanned. Video is unedited from start to finish (other than the intro/ end titles and a music soundtrack that I inserted, with whatever I had on my Windows laptop). View at YouTube if you want to see the annotations.

  • 0:06 - How Tord started blogging
  • 2:08 - What does he blog
  • 4:10 - When did he noticed Norwegian librarians were reading his blog
  • 5:13 - Does he encourage his students and academic peers to blog?
  • 7:38 - Does he face resistance from his academic peers (wrt blogging)?
  • 8:35 - How blogging helped him professionally

YouTube Link

I first learned of Pliny the Librarian when I was searching for blog posts about IFLA during the Oslo conference. He was maybe one or two of the bloggers I found, who were attending IFLA and blogging about it.

Then he linked to me again, for last year's IFLA conference.

This year I resolved to meet him in person.

But I forgot to write to him prior to my leaving Singapore. It was only last night that I remembered. There was only one day left to the conference (i.e. today).

So I went to his blog. Learned from his About Page that he's serving on the IFLA Statistics and Evaluation Section. Figured we should be able to meet (I knew where their Section was holding their presentations). I left a comment suggesting that we try to meet up at IFLA.

I was pleasantly surprised that he emailed me and agreed to meet.

At that point, I had no idea how he looked like.

This morning, I asked a Norwegian colleague if he knew Tord. Answer was Yes, and that Tord was a popular blogger among Norwegian librarians!

I was told he's often seen carrying a "big-camera" (i.e. a SLR).

Right after my Section's presentation, I popped by the room where his Section was. Presentations had already started. I scanned the room and couldn't find him.

Until I noticed the slides on screen indicated the speak was "Tord Høivik".


For the next two hours (there were four other papers after Tord's), I sat through the presentations on statistics and evaluation in the context of National Libraries. Can't say it excited me, though I still learned a thing or two.

When the entire session was over, I walked to where Tord was. He was busy speaking to another delegate.

More waiting.

I think I sat down for another five minutes (what's another five after waiting for two hours, eh?)

Finally he was available.

I walked to him. Introduced myself.

He went, "Ah!"

Then gestured that we sit down to talk.

Tord was very friendly. Unpretentious. I like him immediately.

On a whim, I asked if I could interview him. On video.

He instantly agreed.

He was a natural.

Ivan Chew & Tord Høivik

Oh, did you know he's 66 years old this year?

Keep blogging, Tord!
(Update: Tord's "IFLA Quebec" blog posts and bloggers round-up here).

[Next: Part 16]

IFLA 2008 (part 14): Canada's Teen (online) Reading Club

[From Part 13]

8.30am, 14 Aug 2008. Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section.

This presentation sounded interesting. It's a reading club for teens. And there's an online element. The paper can be downloaded here (PDF, 742KB).

Canada’s Teen Reading Club is a library-based national online reading program for teenagers that promotes reading and libraries. The site features peer-to-peer book recommendations, discussion forums, scheduled chat times, and a creative writing section. The program is sponsored and administrated jointly by government, professional association and library partners. Librarian moderators from across Canada contribute to the site by previewing book reviews and moderating discussion forums. This presentation gives an overview of the site features, budget, privacy and safety concerns, and overall administration of the program.
Here's their website:
Teen Summer Reading Club

Ms. Kirsten Andersen (from the Greater Victoria Public Library) explained that it's targeted at teens ages 13 to 19.
Canada's Teen Reading Club

Basically teens submit a book review and get to win a prize. Librarians will review all submissions to ensure they are descriptive and aren't plot spoilers.
Canada's Teen Reading Club

The website has a discussion forum, with a librarian or teen volunteer moderating each thread. They do not allow teens to use real names for privacy reasons.
Canada's Teen Reading Club

She said, "Things discussed are not always profound. Teens mostly want to socialise."

The "Off Topic" discussion thread is a very popular thread. The site also has a online chat feature, a ' Your Words' section for original writing, a Winners section, and Links page.
Canada's Teen Reading Club Canada's Teen Reading Club

Each summer has a different theme (e.g. movie, beach, scrapbook).

The project outcomes exceeded their goals. They received 5,000 book reviews and there was active participation in the discussion forum.

There are 600 libraries involved in some way, and 75 teen volunteers and librarians involved as moderators.

About 3,000 teens actively using the site. The highest number of users at any one time was 170. The site costs C$40,000 a year to maintain.

Quite cost-effective considering that it practically supports the entire Canada and with so many libraries involved. There are graphics that libraries can download and print for their own use.

They provided reading lists but since teens read other things not on the list, they created a section called "Other Stuff" which proved to be the most popular.

For the moderators, there's a hidden moderator forum, and teen moderator forum. There's also a wiki for libraries to add their ideas.

Why they started the service
Prior to this, they only had Summer Reading programmes for children ages 6 to 12. In Summer Reading, you read, record what you've , and redeem prizes.
Canada's Teen Reading Club

They recognised that teens spent time online. Kirsten said in Canada 95% of teens have access to computers. They also recognised that "peer relations are paramount" so in conceiving the project they decided to buid on the "teens' natural preferences" for peer recommendations.

Learning points
Teens are motivation by prizes. They have teens who would've contributed reviews without prizes but some teens also say they were there to win stuff.

Kirsten emphasised how they've been very careful about teens giving personal info online (they have a national Privacy Act, I think).
Teen summer reading club - registration page

Teens users are also fast to report spam. And some fedback that they glad librarians are moderating the site.

Future plans
The programme is currently slanted towards English. So they but will include French reviews to make it inclusive for provinces whose first language is French.

They also intend to involve Pre-teens.
Canada's Teen Reading Club

Some one asked if there was a fee to use the site. Answer: It's free.

I asked how they verified that the teens who use the site are who they claim to be. Kirsten answered that they relied on trust (from what I see from the site, you can register for an account if you input the right fields). But people who volunteer as moderators have to make a personal appearance at the library.

I also asked if they expected it to be a success when you started? She replied yes (interesting... I wouldn't have that confidence in trying this for Singapore).

I think sometime in the near future, we should try this in Singapore. Will have to discuss with colleagues and see how to push for this.

But we certainly won't build our own site. For one, there are already Singapore agencies and sites with their established youth portals.

Most likely we'll see how to work hand-in-hand with agencies like Youth.SG. They already have a forum so maybe we could have a section there. Our librarians can moderate and manage that thread. We could work with Youth.SG for joint publicity.

The hard part for Singapore might be to get teens to actually participate.

Kirsten explained that Canada is a vast country. Some small towns may only have a handful of teens. I can easily see how their site serves a need for Canadian teens to connect to their peers through reading.

Singaporean teens are such a busy bunch, and they can easily meet their friends face-to-face. They'd probably have online social circles.

But we'll see. Since we don't have to build the site itself (if we work through a partner), it's easy to start and just try it out.

[Next: Part 15]

Thursday, August 14, 2008

IFLA 2008 (part 13): More Web 2.0 in IFLA

[From Part 12]

At my first IFLA conference in Oslo, it seemed to me terms like blogs, wiki, Web 2.0 wasn't in IFLA's lexicon. But year by year, those terms appeared more in presentations and poster sessions.

This year seems like a bumper crop of sorts.

Here's what I spotted at this year's poster sessions:

IFLA 2008 poster sessions IFLA 2008 poster sessions

IFLA 2008 poster sessions

IFLA 2008 poster sessions

IFLA 2008 poster sessions IFLA 2008 poster sessions IFLA 2008 poster sessions

This one cautions against jumping into Web 2.0:
IFLA 2008 poster sessions IFLA 2008 poster sessions

Of course, there are plenty of posters that aren't about new media.

And for some things, Web 2.0 just can't replace.
IFLA 2008 poster sessions

Next: Part 14

IFLA 2008 (part 12): Adhoc meeting

Update on the Sister-library and the Youth Expression project proposals (previously mentioned here):

Our small working group hard at work

After this morning's visit, a few of us met to discuss the scope of the two proposals.

Final decision:
  • The two projects will not be combined
  • The Sister-library proposal will be tabled as the strategic plan for 2009. A framework needs to be developed. A working team will be formed
  • I'm tasked to proceed with a prototype for the Youth Expression proposal. I guess people need to visualise how this can be done. Linn (from Norway) has agreed to help connect me to a library in her country for this prototype stage (if you're a librarian reading this and want to be involved at this stage, I'd love to hear from you)
More to be discussed at our second and final SC meeting.

But we're getting there.

I wish I'd recorded the audio of our discussions.

This is a group who come from different backgrounds. Different working styles. We don't share a common first language. It can be hard to articulate what we want to express. Or understand what has been said.

Clarifications were sought. Objections were raised.

There were disagreements.

But it was about ideas and not personalities.

I love librarians :)

Previous: Part 11
Next: Part 13

IFLA 2008 (part 11): Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg (Charlesbourg Public Library)

[From Part 11]

13 Aug 08, 8am. Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section off-site programme.

This is a long post. Plenty of pictures.

This morning, we visited the Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg (pronounced "char-le-boo").
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

We were ushered into a very cosy auditorium.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

I love how they constructed this balcony to accommodate wheelchairs and maybe baby prams. So thoughtful!
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The library was started in October 1981, then relocated to its new premises in October 1983. It's said to have one of the best Young Adults service and programmes.

They serve 74,000 residents. Renovated two years ago (enlarged the library space by three times, at a cost of €6.3 million Euros -- wow, did I hear that right?)

I canbelieve it cost that much.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

It's an impressive building.

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Our guide explained how the building is designed to be eco-friendly (something about the roof but I didn't catch the details).

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The interior was designed for efficient traffic flow. The designers aimed to make it easy to find things and for the place to feel like a second home.

[I found this to be true. It's huge and looks complex but somehow moving from section to section was straight forward and along structured path ways. The 6.3m Euros was well-spent].
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

I believe this is the self-checkout machine. It was the only one I saw in the library. The library isn't into self-help services it seems.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The OPAC stations are clustered together. Very simple yet elegant designs. Their CPU unit is exposed. I guess it eliminates the heat issue but wonder if any users have itchy-fingers and switch the machines on/ off.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The holder for the paper (for users to copy the Call Number) is bolted down. Nice.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Here's something new to me: Library items with the "$" symbol on the cover means users have to pay a fee per item to borrow. This is the Bestsellers and popular items section. The fee is around $3 Canadian.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg
They have adopted to use fees to regulate demand. I wondered how they dealt with complaints by those who say they cannot pay.

There's WIFI access in the library (not sure if it's free or fee).

Here's the study area.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Table-top has concealed power and LAN points.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Their Children's Section is enclosed in glass (stops the noise).
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

From the outside, the desk of the Children's Librarian is visible.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Here's the inside of the section.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

A shelf of toys!
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

There's a presentation room for kids. I think the sign says "No Admittance over 6".
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

When I stepped in, the space looked impressive. It wasn't apparent there was this space from the outside.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

At the corner there's a audio/ headset.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

There's an area where the kids can watch stuff from a TV (videos or TV programmes I think). Parents can sit on the couch overlooking the kids.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Behind the wall (where the TV is installed) is a nappy changing fold-up board and a microwave oven for heating up milk! Wow.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Upstairs is the Young People's section, if I'm not wrong. I'm guessing from the beanbags that it is! Correction: Their library inter-shelves the Young Adult and Adult collections.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Straight ahead is the Periodicals section.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg
There are a few steps up. The designers provided a lift (no space to build a ramp, I think).
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

There's a consistent clean, cool feel to the whole place. It's modern and cozy.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The cool thing is that right across the other side, you can see the office. I wonder if that's the library director at her desk?!
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Walking out, you see a TV lounge area. Nice.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg
What's cool is that you can look across to the library office!

The Multimedia section is in the basement (kind of like a hangout for teens and young adults as well).
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

The AV materials are free to watch in the library (deposit required to use the player). Payment of S1.50 to borrow (I think it's a cheaper rate in consideration for teens).
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

They have punk and heavy metal music in their collections! Wonder if they carry Joe Satriani (man, if they put a drum/ guitar/ bass kit in the basement...)
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

This is a place I'd definitely want to hang out.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

At the ground floor, the library is connected to an exhibition space.
Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Services and programmes they provide:
  • Reading day in a public space
  • Reading day in schools
  • Introduction to reading and writing
  • Public library week
  • Read & Get Reading (seniors reading to kids -
  • They have a mascot in their storytelling for kids. Average 34 kids per session. It's so popular they require reservations.
  • Storytimes in pajamas
  • Arts and science workshops
  • Summer reading month (last week of June to end Aug. There are prizes when kids complete 5, 10, or 15 books)
  • Film screenings (to give more reasons for users to visit. The screenings are held at regular times so that there is a routine).
  • They introduced a character Chien De Lisard, aimed at young adults ages 13 to 21 (see At the site, teens can post on what they read (the presenter mentioned they wanted an "edgy and mildy subservive atmosphere" for the site)
  • For the 8 to 12 year-olds, they have a literary society rather than reading club format. Each activity is independent of the other and has themes.
  • Four times a year, daycare centres receive 65 books for children and daycare workers. Part of encouraging daycare centres to recognise importance of reading to young children.
  • They organise teacher meetings; send information packs to schools
  • A "School bag package" for teachers to hold classroom activities in the library

Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg Visit to Bibliothèque de Charlesbourg

Very, very nice. I'm impressed.

The physical space is well thought-out. It's a huge space yet it's not overbearing. There are clear spaces for Children, Teens and Adults (though I feel the teens section ought to have it's own enclosed area like the Children's section, and with a different feel).

Their services seems quite comprehensive and proactive.

From this visit, what's interesting to me are the consistent trends of:
  • Libraries moving towards an inter-generation theme
  • Children's services remains at the forefront of the public library services
  • Services to Youths is also deemed important. And most libraries in any country face the same challenges in trying to get teens to read
I'm also interested in how they reach out to the adults aged 30 to 49. I was too busy taking pictures and copying notes that I didn't get a chance to ask.

[I realised I've done a better job reporting what this library has done -- in terms of services to Children and Teens -- than what I've blogged about for Singapore's public libraries. Maybe I should invite a Canadian librarian over to give an objective assessment!

Anyway, if you're a Singaporean reading this, we may not have six million Euros to spend per library but otherwise what we have is pretty consistent :)]

Next: Part 12