Opening doors to new knowledge

A staple of NUS Libraries, the Central Library underwent a long-awaited facelift and reopened its doors on 3 December 2021, with a renewed sense of purpose. This marks a significant milestone in the history of NUS Libraries since its humble beginnings at the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical School more than a century ago. In addition, the Chinese Library was renamed the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library (雲茂潮中文图书馆), in honour of businessman cum philanthropist Mr Wan Boo Sow, who was a firm believer in education and self-improvement.

The renovation of the Central Library, including the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library, spanned 40 months. Work began in June 2018 and despite the challenges of constant renovation work, the library was kept open throughout for the use of the NUS community. The refurbished library boasts of a total floor area of more than 16,500 sqm – an increase of 30% for users as well as user support and services and teaching facility spaces.

L5 Open shelves2 Bright, spacious and welcoming – the expanded library provides a more open setting for users  

The new Central Library now wears a badge of pride as a green building which features best-in-class energy efficiency, the use of onsite and offsite renewable energy and other intelligent energy management strategies. It has also achieved the Green Mark Platinum certification by the Building and Construction Authority.

The 21st century poses a challenge to both information providers and consumers alike. As such, NUS Libraries needs to keep pace with the emerging trends in digital technology – digital scholarship, Internet of things and digital culture of education.

In its new settings, the Central Library now offers a myriad and flexible configuration of space and exciting possibilities in learning and research through its novel technological devices and facilities. An example is the Tech Central, which is home to state-of-the-art facilities, such as the 360o visualisation suite called the 360imx. The 360o shared immersive reality allows users to explore collaborations, simulations, visualisations and experiences. Together with the digital scholarship lab and the tech-enhanced learning Imaginarium, Tech Central offers facilities to advance learning, teaching and research.

“NUS Libraries is an integral part of the education reform and ecosystem and it was time for us to modernise and transform it to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Associate Professor Daniel Goh, who is Associate Provost (Undergraduate Education) and oversees NUS Libraries. “Changes in learning and teaching models, in user behaviour and expectations, rapid technological developments and digital revolution and increasingly complex information environments prompted the need for us to transform.” 

The newly renovated Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library has its own rich collection of Chinese literature that augments the Southeast Asian and the Singapore/Malaysia Collection at the Central Library. The Wan family, a firm believer of library resources to support education, has made generous donations to the NUS Libraries since 1995, and enriched the Chinese, Malay and Southeast Asian Studies collections in NUS Libraries.

“Academic libraries, at the heart of a university community, play a pivotal role in education, learning and research,” said Professor Tan Eng Chye, NUS President, who unveiled the new Central Library and officiated at the renaming of the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library. “The cumulative donations have helped to add over 137,000 print and electronic titles in the Chinese language to advance the learning, teaching and research needs on Chinese Studies in NUS.” This has enabled the Chinese Library to maintain a leading position among academic libraries with a scholarly collection on Chinese Studies, he added. 

The rejuvenated Central Library underscores the University’s ongoing and committed efforts to support teaching, learning and research needs of the NUS community. NUS Libraries will continue to invest in its resources -- collection, services and people, while keeping up with changes in technology and the learning environment.


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