ALAPPUZHA: In May 2001, Dr Christopher Chia, the chief executive of Singapore’s National Library Board (NLB) showed visitors how they quadrupled the visitorship, tripled the collection, and doubled the membership and the physical space in six years. Its membership has grown from 8 lakh during the first 35 years to ten lakhs in last five years - enrolling nearly half its population with local public libraries - and now it is a case study for Harvard Business School.
“The team worked on changing the image of the library from book repository to a place for the people to learn, explore and discover and to recast librarians as service-oriented cybrarians,” he explains. The volunteers would help make people “knowledge navigators” through training information search skills.
Finance minister T. M. Thomas Isaac had fashioned almost the same idea last year “Libraries, a Learning Centre” in his constituency Alappuzha. With his team of volunteers, he walked into coastal households to realise that many of them are first-generation high school goers.
They built a marquee in the centre of library courtyard and brought the students from low-income families reside near the libraries to spend there from 7 to 9 pm.
Dr M. G. Sreekumar, librarian and head of the Center for Development of Digital Libraries (CDDL), Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIMK): “If Singaporean can, why can’t we?” “Internet technology was the key enabler of this mass transformation supported, supplemented, and complemented by a national level network of library resource sharing."