Monday, September 29, 2008


I had to work a few hours overtime this evening.

The sky was pitch black by the time I left the office.

On my way home, I went past a school. Its canteen was lit. Students sitting on benches, peering down on textbooks.

Must be exam mugging session, I thought.

Instantly I was brought back to my O-level year. My school also opened up our canteen for students who chose to revise their work in school.

I remembered those nights, some 20 years ago.

My school opened up its school canteen to a group of us, mostly boys, so that we could revise for the exams. Our homes were too noisy and cramped.

Age and time changes one's perspective.

Until tonight, it never entered my consciousness that teachers too had to work overtime for us back then. They could have been home watching TV. Being with their family.

As a student, I didn't hear or consider any of that. We'd taken for granted that teachers had to be there.

It finally dawned on me about 20 years later.


To my teachers who did their share of overtime for us then. And for teachers who continue to do so for students today.

Thank you.

It might take a long time.

A decade or two.

But eventually some of us kids will learn what is gratitude.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Reading Beauty

This could be a poster girl for libraries, don't you think?

I'd call it "Reading Beauty"*

["ratita de biblioteca" by Celeste]

* A pun on the title "Sleeping Beauty". Incidentally, I just read that "Sleeping Beauty" originated from Charles Perrault's 1697 fairy tale "La Belle au Bois dormant" or "The Beauty asleep in the wood").

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Two guys and their reading list in 2007

My Friend's "Books 2007" listGuy #1:

My friend shared his 2007 reading list with me (he started maintaining a list last year). His list runs so long and wide I can't find a way to capture it in one screen shot.

I thought I was meticulous in compiling my own "read list" but his list blew me away! He gave me permission to share excerpts here but insisted on anonymity.

In 2007, he borrowed 215 items from the public library.

The equivalent of SGD$ 8,762 (based on what it would have cost him to buy the books rather than borrow).

Wow, that's making excellent use of his Premium Membership.

He was quick to qualify that by "reading", he doesn't necessarily read from cover to cover. Some he might scan through. A rare few he'd return to the library without reading (I joked that he was like a hoarder and going to the library was like free retail therapy! lol)

But clearly, he's read the majority of what he borrowed. The proof being the short one-liner synopsis for some of the books.
My Friend's 2007 reading list (3)

In his list, apart from the usual "Title", "ISBN", he records/ calculates things like whether he made a reservation for the item, whether it was renewed, how long did he hold the item, amount of fines incurred (if any), the cost of the item.
My Friend's reading list 2007 (2)

He classifies them up to 10 categories (these are his own subject categories).

He also developed his own "reading depth" scale (i.e. how much of the book did he read), his own rating scale for its content, and how items he subsequently purchased from bookstores.

For each field, he calculates the total and average figures. All this helps him quantify the net monetary net (what he termed as "Leverage") from his using the public library (after deducting the fees and fines).

His final analysis was a positive "leverage" of 53.66 times.
I could be wrong, but I think it means every $1 invested (in the form of library membership fees, reservation fees, overdue fines) would have generated $53.66.

[My friend clarifies: "It's actually the amount I would have spent on the books I borrowed, if I had bought them, divided by the amount I incurred borrowing them i.e. total of membership, reservation, renewal, fines. So, the higher the figure, the better i.e. stretching my dollar."]
My friend's 2007 reading list (4)

His top subject read was "Investment & Economics & Business" (57%) with the remainder distributed over nine categories.

My analysis of my friend's 2007 library usage as follows:
  1. For less than $170 a year, he's resulted in a cost-avoidance almost $8,800. That's a significant amount.
  2. He's mainly interested in the Business and Investment subject, but has also achieved a commendable spread among other subjects (only area he didn't read up was Health & Sports). Diversification is always good. Most people tend to focus narrowly on two or three areas.
  3. Judging my friend's active and sustained use of library materials, I'd infer that the public library has adequately supported his reading needs.

Guy#2: Me.

Like my friend, I record my reading list on an Excel worksheet. Makes it easier to churn out figures.

Mine's just a simple worksheet with "Title/ Author", "Type" (fiction or non-fiction), "Subject", "Format" (book, magazine, blog etc.), "ISBN".
My Excel file - Reading List

This is my list of library items read in 2007 (all borrowed from the public library).

In 2007, I read 36% more items compared to 2006. Looks like I'm back to my 2004 reading level.
Total items read
  • 2007 = 104 items
  • 2006 = 67 items
  • 2005 = 91 items
  • 2004 = 100 items

But item for item (2007 Vs. 2004), I'm reading more Graphic Novels than "Books" per se.
  • 2007 = Books 46%, Magazines 33%, Graphic Novels 17%, CDs 4%
  • 2004 = Books 73%, Magazines 22%, Graphic Novels 5%
I read more graphic novels to keep myself updated (and entertained!) on our graphic novel collections. In truth, I also turned to more graphic novels because I wanted easier-reads; the visual stuff appealed to me and helped me relaxed more than say, reading a Science Fiction novel.

There's also a shift towards Fiction works.
  • 2007 = 69% Fiction Vs. 31% Non-fiction
  • 2004 = 56% Fiction Vs. 44% Non-fiction
While my top three subjects and genres are relatively consistent, there's been a shift in their weightage.
  • 2007 = Art (graphic novels) 41%, Science Fiction 27%, Contemporary Fiction 4%
  • 2004 = Science Fiction 26%, Contemporary Fiction 14%, Military 13% (others include Management 12%, Fantasy 9%, Library Science 5%)
I stopped calculating the equivalent cost of books after 2006 (too tedious!) but I can roughly estimate that without the public library, I would NOT have read the equivalent of SGD $2,000 a year. It would've been a lot less, since I wouldn't have paid that sort of money to buy reading materials.

Ironically, I've not been motivated to explore in depth. I'm not sure if it provides a way to input, store and share such "reading list" data. I know it allows a list to be created but it's a sequential one, rather than for specific and multiple time periods. I could be wrong but it doesn't have any data-crunching statistical features.

There's but it's been a long while since I logged in. Again, my impression is that it allows you to start a list but not by specific and multiple time periods.

Anyway, I'll stick to Excel for now.

Until a social sharing platform comes along for people interested in sharing their "reading list statistics".

Now I also wonder who else keeps their own reading list.

Of all the Singapore librarian bloggers I follow, I only know of QQ*librarian. Her list is more of an online listings of items read. I don't think she goes into calculation of Subject and cost analysis.

Hey, maybe the public library should build one. Allow people to maintain their "Annual Read List".

Which the library can utilise to understand reading habits and patterns. And channel back that information towards tweaking its collection range and depth.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Connecting the World, One Library at a Time: Jurong Regional Library and The September Project 2008

Here's something the teen volunteers cooked up and implemented at the Jurong Regional Library, as part of the library's participation in The September Project this year.

An interactive games board focusing on Singapore's heritage, culture and history relating to its landmarks.
MRT Stickman driver

Our teen volunteers designed the game board like our Mass Transit Train system. Players have to walk to the correct train segment for the answers.

Hints, from selected library collections, will be provided to players. There will be a book display in conjunction with the game.

Teen Volunteers - The September Project 2008, Jurong Regional Library

Details on the process, here (as blogged by one of the 14-year old teen volunteer).

Quotable quotes:
The journey to the third floor of the library was basically like a tour. I was mesmerized by their vast variety of books and how organized the books were shelved.

Kaydence got us some books on Singapore for our reference... ...Through this ‘flipping through books’ exercise, I learnt many more places of interest in Singapore which I had never known of. I never thought there were this many. All the places of interest I knew of were just those frequently mentioned ones, like Sentosa, EXPO, etc, and I thought I knew every corner of Singapore already!

Another problem we encountered was, we had to ask the people leaning against the glass panels to make way for us as we had to paste the papers onto the glass panels. We had to ask them one by one, not forgetting to always thank them, they also made way willingly.

This project would not be such a success without the help of.. ... and not forgetting the people who made way for us without any hesitation!

I just love the candid comments. Such a refreshing perspective that I have to remind myself this was a 14-year old.

Nice work, girls!

Read her full account here.

Recap of Singapore public libraries' TSP events :

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Paralympics Games: Team Singapore 2008

It's widely reported that the recently concluded Olympic Games held in Beijing was the most-watched in its history.

I wonder how many people know of the Paralympic Games that's held just after it.

I didn't.

Until recently.

Paralympic Games
The Paralympic Games have always been held in the same year as the Olympic Games. Since the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games and the Albertville 1992 Winter Paralympic Games they have also taken place at the same venues as the Olympics. On 19 June 2001, an agreement was signed between IOC and IPC securing this practice for the future. From the 2012 bid process onwards, the host city chosen to host the Olympic Games will be obliged to also host the Paralympics.

I learned of the Paralympics not because of the Olympics, but because of the efforts of a Singaporean group called Musical Theatre Limited, or MTL (

That's right.

A musical theatre group.

It's a long story. I'll summarise in point form:
  • A fellow songcrafter forwarded the bunch of us an email. It was a call for contributions to a Singapore Paralympic Team CD Album.
  • The organisers of this initiative, Musical Theatre Limited, were asking songwriters to submit songs, including instrumentals. The email led me to this YouTube video. I was moved by what I saw.
  • The deadline was three days time. So I emailed the organisers (specifically, Desmond) with this song. Would be cool if they liked it or if it was appropriate. At least I tried to do my bit for Team Singapore, heh.
  • To my surprised, Desmond emailed back to say he liked what he heard. The song would be included (in the accompanying DVD, not the CD -- which was fine with me). Even asked if I had more songs!
All this is very flattering, but that's not the point of this post.

The point is about the efforts by MTL, for Paralympics Team Singapore.

I was intrigued as to the Hows and Whys. Here's what I learned from Desmond over email:
Who started this initiative to compile a CD? - how did this collaboration with SDSC and MTL come about?
Kelly FAN (from the Singapore Disability Sports Council) came to one of our Songwriter Showcases and was impressed with the range of talent. She asked if MTL could write a Theme Song for their Paralympic Team Beijing 2008. I agreed and came up with "Best That We Can Be".

She then asked if SDSC could merchandise and get funds for their charity. I suggested that a full "inspirational CD Album" may be salable, rather than a "single".

Where can Singaporeans buy this CD?
We do not intend to put in "all" CD Stores (no ISBN number, and the margins wouldn't be big enough for them). SDSC has events and we shall have volunteer singers perform and sell the CDs [note: MTL also plans to make the CD available online at the MTL website].

People can call up and buy the CD at the MTL HQ @ Cavan Road, Block 21; or make Cheques payable to "Musical Theatre Limited"; mail to "MTL, Kitchener Road Post Office, PO Box 012, Singapore 912001"; Call Ms. Audrey LEE at +65-9833-9331.

Who are the contributors to this CD?
The contributors to the Audio CD are Sean WONG, Steve ANDRE, Roland ANG, William SOH, Stella KON, Desmond MOEY. The contributors to the Data DVD are listed in a page within the Data DVD (they will have the info up on the MTL website soon).

What were some challenges and issues in making the CD?
The key challenge is funding. MTL has a few projects running and the funds are not available for this CD Project. SDSC could not "drain" their regular sponsors too and thus is inactive in this area.

The funds are trickling in and it is a difficult process. There are many volunteers singing in this CD Album and we are grateful. We have to pay certain professionals to get things done and thus the challenge.

The actual artistic areas are not so difficult, we have good talent.

The Data DVD idea is novel and rather good. It cost more to put in this second disc but it was a great way to allow sponsors to share their messages. Very new and (we) needed time to organize the folders and files.

Where can we obtain more information about MTL, and its Arts Charity status?
Info is here.

Desmond has been emailing the contributors of the status of the project. Last update was that a SDCS representative will be hand carrying a few hundred copies to Beijing this coming Saturday.
CD - Best That We Can Be DataDVD - Best We Can Be

The reminder of the 3,000 copies of the CD Album would be manufactured for SDSC for fund-raising and/ or the promotion of their mission with the disabled.

Desmond adds that the CD is retailing at S$15 (I think it also comes with the DVD containing sponsors' materials, with the donated MP3 songs, MTL video productions, and MTL songwriter works).

All proceeds from the CD Sales goes to SDSC.

MTL also invites potential re-sellers to sell the CDs in bulk (margins negotiable).

If you're interested to learn more, give MTL a call. Desmond can be reached at DesmondMOEY [at] gmail [dot]com.

All that said and done, this is really for Paralympics Team Singapore.

Good luck folks.

One World!

[Btw, SDSC has a Flickr page. As of this post, it's showing Team Singapore's photos from the Beijing Paralympics].