Library book borrowing returns to pre-pandemic levels: NLB

SINGAPORE – Book borrowing is returning to pre-pandemic levels, with library users viewing 37.9 million physical and digital items in 2021 – just below the 2019 figure of 40.5 million.

This represents a 30% increase from 2020, the National Library Board (NLB) noted in its March 29 annual report.

Visitor numbers were also up 26% from 2020, with total attendance of 11.5 million visitors to NLB’s network of 27 libraries as well as the National Archives of Singapore and the former Ford factory, which NLB manages.

One in two Singaporeans used NLB’s digital resources in 2021, and more than 75% of them chose a “hybrid approach” – for example, reading physical books as well as e-books, e-magazines or newspapers electronics.

Digital usage — the number of page views on NLB websites and usage of subscription-based e-books and databases — was 80.6 million, down slightly from 81.6 million in 2020.

British author JK Rowling remained at the top of the physical book category, with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban taking first and second place.

The Nearly Complete Collection of True Singapore Ghost Stories: Book 26 by Russell Lee came third, the only local title to make the top five.

In e-books, children’s titles Grime And Punishment and Fetch-22 from American cartoonist Dav Pilkey’s Dog Man series took the top spots, followed by Singaporean Teo You Yenn’s 2018 essay collection This Is What Inequality Looks Like – which fell from fifth to third place.

NLB’s report added that in 2021, its app had a monthly average of 1.75 million sessions. The library’s 15,000 programs and 15 exhibits also attracted 1.42 million attendees, more than double the number in 2020.

Chief Executive Ng Cher Pong said in a statement, “We are encouraged by the positive responses to NLB’s hybrid approach to providing reading and learning experiences for all.

“Our customers’ reading and learning habits are changing, and we will continue to experiment with new ways to meet their needs, including enhancing our omnichannel approach that will allow them to do so anytime, anywhere. .

He added that this was part of the Libraries and Archives Master Plan 2025 (LAB25).

It’s a five-year roadmap that includes various efforts to reach people beyond physical libraries, such as having QR codes in public areas that they can scan to read digital magazines, e-books or other resources.

Some of these “nodes” have already sprung up in shopping malls around Singapore and will also appear in offices, parks and food and drink outlets.

Angela C. Hale