Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Taxi drivers, Libraries & Learning

Am on doctor's advice to rest at home for a persisent flu (who am I to argue with a doctor, right?). But inevitably, I'm checking office mail (so much for doctor's advice and work-life balance -- my fault, really).

Anyway, then I'm checking my bloglines* and I came across this from Tomorrow.sg, about taxi drivers in Singapore, by TigerLim (his full post is here).

I'm thinking about Taxi Drivers these days because my colleagues and I are interested in influencing a perception change among Singaporeans about learning & reading. Many Singaporeans intuitively view libraries and reading as something of high importance, but when asked why they don't use the library or read, the single most common refrain is "I have no time".

If the library could get Taxi Drivers to say, "I can make time, in my own way, to learn", from "I have no time", then we're on to something.

As Tigerlim posted, these cabbies are matured people in their 30s, with a wealth of experience and tacit knowledge. Far from being embarassed about the circumstances leading them to become cabbies, they should be proud of what they know and the fact that they are doing something their situation. Could the public library not tap on their expertise? Actually, the real question is, "How can we do it meaningfully?"

Also, if these taxi driver who are on the road 10 to 12 hours a day can get just 1 in 10 passengers to read a book or pick up a new learning experience at the library...

Conversely, if people like Tigerlim could try to influence a driver to change their perception of reading and learning... hmm, Library/ Learning Advocacy at the grassroots.

Suggestions, or comments? You know any taxi driver willing to do this?

Related post: Kudos to Comfort Cab & Cabbie SH6178P (17 Apr 05)

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  1. Anonymous4:56 pm

    The technology may be nowhere near the ease-of-use of physical books, but wouldn't audio books be great for taxi drivers -- and a lot of other Singaporeans who spent one, two hours commuting every work day?

  2. Muwahahahaa.... NLB taxi bookcrossing initiative. Put a book at the dashboard with the sign "Recommended transport reading. Free book swapping available."

    Then no worries of a boring taxi trip with nothing to do liao, you can even take the book home!

  3. Thanks for quick responses.

    Heng Cheong, audiobooks is something NLB is constantly reviewing. Right now, we aren't acquiring (won't go into specifics here) but maybe as part of overall initiative... it's possible.

    Roxanne, your idea isn't too far off -- I intend to explore with NTUC comfort or any cab company on putting discarded library items that are not purchased during booksale and put at the back of taxi cabs. Nevermind some hoarders -- I guess must take a risk that most Singaporeans are gracious enough to keep them circulating (I don't know about the dashboard but I might just propose to the taxi operators!)


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