2020 in Review
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered massive changes unlike any other we’ve seen in recent times. Economies, businesses and lives are affected globally. Libraries had to pivot and adapt to the ever-evolving crisis while striving to provide support to our displaced community. Against this challenging backdrop, we’re proud to say we have done our best. As 2020 drew to a close, we take a moment to reflect and celebrate how far we’ve all come amidst all the uncertainties.

Curate & Enhance Access to Quality Content

hands typing on laptop
Free Access to Additional E-Resources
Lockdowns, quarantines and similar restrictions were the norm around the world. As physical access to libraries rich collection became impossible or restricted, an expanded set of freely available e-content was extended to support the NUS community. This includes an extensive list of e-books, e-journals and Covid-19 resources made temporarily available by publishers worldwide.

Similarly, Alumni were granted goodwill access to more than 112,000 e-titles, as part of our negotiation with publishers.

These e-resources played a critical role in sustaining education, research and lifelong learning during the crisis.
Book scanning process
Convert Print to Digital
Lecturers generally place copies of high demand library books in the Reserve Books and Readings Collection (RBR) so that more students can borrow them for in-library use.

The sudden thrust for everything to move online resulted in a surge in demand for RBR books to be made available digitally. This was met by increasing the purchase of e-RBR titles. Similarly, essential book chapters for course readings were digitized and uploaded online to enable students to access them wherever they are.
More Gems, More Accessible
Digital Gems is a virtual library of rare historical materials on Southeast Asia. Every year, the library grows as more content are being added into its collection.

In 2020, we launched these 4 collections in Digital Gems
By digitizing these unique materials, knowledge of the past is made accessible to future generations.

In the same vein, we also partnered with National Library Board (NLB) to make these materials searchable on NLB’s search platform, thereby making our rare materials more accessible to the public.
Preserve & Showcase NUS’ Research Excellence
Preservation of knowledge is at the heart of what we do. In 2020, more than 15,000 scholarly works were deposited into our institutional repository ScholarBank@NUS. The number of fresh deposits grew by more than twice, compared to 2019.

Among them are 5,000 open access titles published by our researchers. To maximise the visibility of our research outputs, our team combed through UnPaywall for the fulltext and added them into ScholarBank@NUS.

Some 5,000 digitised old thesis, ranging from the early 1950s to early 2000, were also deposited into ScholarBank@NUS. This increases the availability of old thesis to a much wider audience compared to the availability via print copies only.
documents and dandelion
usage and collection statistics

Increase Engagement & Strengthen Partnership

Goh Chok Tong
A Chat with ESM Goh Chok Tong
A dialogue with Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong was held in collaboration with World Scientific Publishing. Moderated by Singapore Literature Prize-winning author, Peh Shing Huei, the session saw ESM Goh Chok Tong engaging the NUS community in a meaningful and thought-provoking exchange on his extraordinary journey from a kampong boy to Singapore’s Prime Minister, his views of Singapore, and beyond.

The dialogue also shed light on some of the pressing topics that are on the minds of our youths, and offered insights into how the younger generation can collectively shape their own future.
Rediscover the Kampong Spirit
Libraries serve as community hubs that connect people with shared experiences and interests. In January, a healthy cooking demonstration was held at the newly opened Level 1 in Central Library. Yummy sets of bento boxes were sold, with proceeds going towards the NUS students’ Bursary fund.

The event spearheaded by Assoc Prof Erle Lim, was part of an initiative to foster community bonding, sustain a green environment and encourage recreational gardening. It was jointly organized by NUS Office of Facilities Management, University Campus Infrastructure, Green Space Taskforce, Summer Hill SG and NUS Libraries.
Cooking and gardening
Virtual Book Launch with NUS Press
Herman Ronald Hochstadt, or hrh as he is more fondly known, is honoured with the NUS Distinguished Arts and Social Sciences Alumni Award in 2015, and the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2019. Hrh is a strong supporter of NUS Libraries. His late wife, Peggy Wai Chee Leong-Hochstadt, was the first Chief Librarian of NUS Libraries.

His memoir, titled "lives & times of hrh", is a highly personal, warm and witty account of his life, with a focus on his public service career. It gives a first-hand account of how he worked with Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other Pioneer Generation leaders in laying the foundations for the key institutions of independent Singapore.

The book was published by NUS Press, and jointly launched by NUS Press and NUS Libraries. Proceeds will go towards supporting financially needy students.
Herman Ronald Hochstadt
Sharing a Love for Book
ReadNUS is an initiative by NUS Political Association (NUSPA) in partnership with NUS Libraries.

Borne out of a need to help students cope with the COVID-19 quarantine fatigue, ReadNUS aims to promote a love for reading among NUS students.

An on-going series of fortnightly newsletters were hatched to recommend book titles from the library’s vast collection. Activities such as a book club and other book-related events were also organised by NUSPA to stimulate intellectual discussions.
ReadNUS mascot
Forging Inclusivity: Stories from the Human Library
NUS Libraries, together with Resilience Collective, organised a unique human library event where human “books” shared true life stories on their mental health issues, and how they overcame challenges with determination and resilience. Participants were given the opportunity to interact with the “books” and better understand the experiences of these discriminated individuals in our community.

The event was held in conjunction with World Mental Health Day and World Suicide Prevention Day.
Mental health awareness event

Advance Student Learning

screen showing library video
A Shift to Online Learning
With nation-wide lockdown and social distancing measures in place, learning content had to be delivered online. Anticipating the move, we prepared in advance to convert all our in-person learning sessions into e-sessions before the mandate. This includes consultations, information literacy sessions and events.

To facilitate online and asynchronous hybrid learning, our librarians created more than 100 videos on a wide range of topics. Some of the videos were turned into Small Private Online Course (SPOC). In all, the number of views for all our videos on YouTube and Panapto is more than 48,000.

The shift not only challenged us to optimise our resources and to explore more creative ways to engage, it also allowed the library to reach out to a greater community. Our flagship event, Researcher Unbound, for instance, saw a 57% increase in attendance while our online research and subject guides saw an increase in views by almost 10% to 642,770 total views.
Support for Curriculum Change
Medical educators made changes to their curriculum when students’ research conducted in clinical settings were no longer possible. Many students had to shift to systematic review projects instead.

Our librarians provided support by intensifying online consultations, conducting back-to-back sessions for these students. The systematic review online guide curated by our librarians provided further support to the students. It saw an increase by 42.9% to 17,295 views and became one of the most popular guides consulted among all our online subject guides.
CSI Made Real
In an ongoing quest to engage students, we continued to work with the Department of Biological Sciences to develop web-based apps for online teaching of forensic science.

Created using WebGL to increase accessibility, students were able to view the content using normal browsers, instead of specific devices which they may lack.

Using AR/VR components to enhance immersion and realism, students were able to practise CSI in a fun way at the comforts of their homes.
TEL Imaginarium games
Explore Immersive Tech Through Games
Our first mystery game took place at TEL-Imaginarium in February. Conceived to bring the potential of immersive tech closer to the NUS community, students get to explore what TEL-Imaginarium has to offer using AR/VR elements. Armed with a gripping murder mystery plot, the game attracted an overwhelming 99 participants from 28 teams.

Inspired by the success, a new game was conducted via Zoom amidst a pandemic-stricken new term in October. This time it attracted even more players — 127 participants from 42 teams. Despite not meeting each other physically, players were able to socially connect with their friends over an exciting online game.
TEL Imaginarium original escape games knowledge sharing statistics

Accelerate Digital Scholarship & Scholarly Communications

map and pc
Digital Scholarship Without Borders
The pandemic provided an opportunity to bring the discussion of digital scholarship beyond our shores.

Working hand in hand with Digital Humanities Singapore, we introduced the Digital Scholarship in Southeast Asia Seminar Series to promote topical discussions on digital scholarship in the region and beyond.

In the first session, 4 speakers from diverse backgrounds and different institutions across Southeast Asia came together for a discussion on Digital Scholarship and Open Access in Southeast Asia.

The online seminar reached more than 2,400 online views within the first 2 weeks.
Learning About Infectious Diseases
Covid-19 has sparked a greater urgency for research in understanding Infectious Diseases (ID).

In partnership with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the Singapore Infectious Diseases Research Landscape Mapping website was launched. The website provides an overview of the local ID research landscape from Jan 2015 to May 2019 with detailed links to the information needed by researchers, the industry, practitioners and the public.

By showcasing Singapore’s ID research to the public, the project aims to attract more funding for ID research and foster more impactful collaborations among clinician scientists, researchers, and industry partners.
data visualisation

Optimise Efficiencies & Library Spaces 

Reinventing Loans Services
The simple act of walking into libraries to borrow print materials posed a challenge during campus closure, and even later on, when an onsite capacity limit was implemented.

New ways of book retrieval were introduced. Reserved books can be collected from the library loans desk on a grab and go basis. Users could also request for items to be placed in BookStation lockers found outside selected libraries. These lockers are available 24/7, providing a contactless and convenient form of book retrieval. Last but not least, home delivery, assisted by drivers from NUS’ Office of Campus Amenities, were offered to those who were unable to come to campus.
POP stations
Remote Access to Digital Scholarship Lab
For staff and students working on humanistic research projects, the Digital Scholarship Lab offers both hardware and software to support data-intensive computation and visualisation. This includes high-performance workstations, cloud data storage access and specialised software such as ArcGIS, Tableau, Nvivo, Gephi, SPSS and STATA.

We enabled remote access to our workstations so that staff and students can access them from anywhere for their digital research.
adjusting graphs on laptop
Navigating Covid with Technologies
To ensure the health and safety of our community, capacity at our libraries was reduced. The introduction of a smart monitoring system enabled us to automate the tracking of live occupancy in a reliable and efficient manner. Users too, benefit. Through the system, users are able to remotely check when the libraries reach capacity limit, helping them avoid a wasted trip to an overcrowded library. The system has since integrated with the uNivUS app.
crowd capacity
Central Library Revitalised
The Central Library renovation started in June 2018. After 18 months of extensive work, Level 1 and 5 opened its doors in January 2020.

Level 1, previously home to part of the NUS Co-op, a plant room and library storage area, was repurposed into an exciting new space that serves different needs, be it for relaxation, hang out, learning or social interaction.

Level 5, which used to serve as the main study area, took on a more contemporary look with its open-space design that promotes better interactivity, in addition to more seats for studying and reading.
library couches patron statistics