Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library Image Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library Image

The Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library supports the academic needs of both the Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies Departments. Its collection includes Chinese and Japanese literature, history, philosophy, linguistics, as well as titles related to China and Southeast Asia.

It is notable for its strengths in traditional thread-bound Chinese books, Four Treasure Library series, Overseas Chinese newspapers, rare Chinese periodicals during the Republic of China, and Southeast Asian Chinese materials.

The collection forms one of the largest library resources of its kind in Southeast Asia. Just the Chinese material alone which stands at 700,000 volumes makes it one of the largest Chinese academic collections outside China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.




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Wan Boo Sow portraitA story of self-reliance, determination and integrity
Self-reliance, thrift, humility and integrity - these traits together with foresight, hard work, and an entrepreneurial outlook enabled Wan Boo Sow (雲茂潮) to rise from an early life in rural poverty to build a successful business.


Early years
Boo Sow was born in 1918 to poor and illiterate immigrants who came from Hainan island in search of a better life in a British colony. His father, Wan Chong Jin (雲崇锦), eked out a living as a hawker selling “bubor kachang”. When he was four, his father passed away from complications brought on by a fish bone lodged in the throat. Today such a tragedy could be avoided by a simple one-hour procedure in a clinic.


Boo Sow’s mother then remarried and left him in the care of his paternal uncle. His uncle’s family was just as poor and survived by rearing poultry on a small piece of land in Geylang. Such hardship was common among many families at that time.

Growing up
In 1925, Boo Sow enrolled in the Geylang English Primary School to begin his formal education. Seven years later, he attended Raffles Institution where he studied for four years.


Born to a very poor family, there were occasions when Boo Sow was not able to pay his school fees for many months. The teachers, sympathising with his plight, allowed him to continue attending classes. Coming from a non-English-speaking family, Boo Sow did not do well in his primary and secondary school exams.


Once, when he was low on funds, Boo Sow put up notices offering tuition service. There were parents who paid for his service but did not send their children for tuition. This was their way of donating money to help a poor village boy. Boo Sow was deeply touched by this and other acts of kindness extended to him.


After school, Boo Sow had chores like collecting leftovers from restaurants to feed the poultry, cleaning the pig-sties and pens, and bringing poultry and eggs to the market. In the evenings, Boo Sow taught English to Hainanese cooks and houseboys and cleaned the shoes of an Eurasian family.


His aunt placed great importance on education and always encouraged him in his studies. Boo Sow was always struggling with his school work but he worked hard on this and managed to pass his Senior Cambridge exams.


The years of rural poverty did not break Boo Sow’s spirit. Through it all his family displayed a strong work ethic and always worked hard to improve their lives. It was a lesson in self-reliance, determination and thrift.


Job hunting

After his Senior Cambridge in 1937, Boo Sow went to look for work. Police inspector, hospital orderly and bank clerk -- these were positions that he applied for without success. Jobs were hard to come by and were usually obtained through recommendations which Boo Sow did not have. However, his proficiency in the English language enabled him to obtain employment as an interpreter to a rich Hainanese rubber estate owner and a tutor to the latter’s children.


An opportune moment came when his cousin, a barber to Dr George V. Allen, Principal of the King Edward VII College of Medicine, showed him Boo Sow’s Senior Cambridge Certificate and asked for his help. Dr Allen later became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya from 1949 to 1952.



Noticing that Boo Sow had a credit in Chemistry, Dr Allen sent him to Mr Roebuck, Chief Pharmacist at the Singapore General Hospital, who did not have a vacancy, and instead sent him to his friends, Mr Cook and Mr Chalmers of the Maynard Pharmacy. To Boo Sow’s immense relief, they offered to take him in as an apprentice. All the positions then in fact had been held only by the British.


Boo Sow applied himself fully to his work. He was diligent, enterprising, and learned as much as he could. His employers recognised his efforts and rewarded him with a pay rise. Even so, he kept his employment with the rubber estate owner and continued with the two jobs as his pay was still low. Boo Sow needed all that income to support his family.


Marriage and family

Four years on, his apprenticeship came to an end when the Japanese invaded Malaya and Singapore in December 1941 and occupied these territories until August 1945. During the Japanese occupation, Boo Sow managed to accumulate some capital by buying and selling medicines which were much sought after. Boo Sow was fortunate that he was not caught up in the Sook Ching massacre when many thousands of Chinese men, especially the educated, were rounded up and executed by Japanese soldiers in February and March 1942. An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 perished in this cruel and tragic manner.


In 1943, Boo Sow married Annie Tan (陈玉贞), an English-educated daughter of a book-keeper whom he met through a matchmaker. Many of Annie’s friends had married men who were well-off but without much of an education. When Annie met Boo Sow at his house, she noticed his Senior Cambridge Certificate prominently displayed on the wall in the living room. She decided that it was better to marry someone with an education even if he was not from a well-off family.


Annie was Boo Sow’s helpmate and a pillar of unwavering support. Besides caring for their young and growing family, she helped out in the pharmacy and the insecticide business that he was to undertake in the years after the war. She took on the task of selling pharmaceutical and insecticide products in house to house sales canvassing, a common method in the days before the supermarkets, and also helped with administrative work in the factory office.


Boo Sow and Annie had seven children, all of whom are university graduates and five of whom graduated from the University of Singapore. With family members who are alumni of the National University of Singapore across two generations, the Wan family is proud of its deep ties to the University.


Starting out in business

After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Boo Sow enrolled in the pharmacy course at the King Edward VII College of Medicine. When he graduated with a Diploma in Pharmacy in 1948, Boo Sow was already a father of three. With the modest sum that he had put away during the Japanese occupation, Boo Sow opened the London Pharmacy located at 109 High Street. As a trained pharmacist and chemist, he started experimenting and came up with cough remedies and an insecticide.


Path to success

It was the insecticide that launched Boo Sow on his path to success. Customers came to buy the insecticide by the basket loads, bringing their own bottles. To meet the increased demand, Boo Sow opened a small factory in Robinson Road followed by bigger premises in Paya Lebar. By the mid-1960s, he had moved to a larger purpose-built factory at 875 Bukit Timah Road which was officially opened by Dr Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Finance. This was soon followed by another factory in Johor Bahru. “Ridsect” (杀虫王), as his insecticide was known, became a household name in Malaysia and Singapore and the wider region.


Boo Sow and Annie were always immensely proud of their Singaporean roots and were very proud to witness Singapore’s transformation from a British colony to an independent and prosperous multi-racial nation.



Despite being a man of means, Boo Sow lived a frugal and simple life and was not interested in displays of wealth. Self-reliance, thrift, humility and integrity - these qualities were always with him in all his endeavours.


Having gone through much hardship early in life, Boo Sow was able to identify with those in disadvantaged circumstances and was compassionate and generous towards them. He was ready to help those who were less well-off than himself. For many years, he served as chairman of the Wan Clan Association.


Boo Sow believed that education was an essential if not paramount factor in an individual’s development, and instilled this value in his children. He was a life-long learner - always curious, inquisitive, filled with a thirst for knowledge and a never-ending desire for self-improvement.


Influenced by his life lessons and values, Boo Sow’s children have set up awards and scholarships in various tertiary institutions. Realising the importance of library resources in support of education, the Wan family has made generous donations to the NUS Libraries since July 1995. Over the years, the support of the Wan family has been instrumental in expanding the collections on Chinese, Malay and Southeast Asian Studies in the NUS Libraries.


In recognition of the generous support of the Wan family, the National University of Singapore is pleased to name the Chinese Library the “Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library” (雲茂潮中文图书馆).


雲茂潮先生(Wan Boo Sow)出身于贫困的乡村家庭。先生以其自强谦逊、朴实正直的品格,加上高瞻远嘱、刻苦耐劳以及勇于拼搏的创业精神白手起家,让他在商界成功闯出一片天。



雲茂潮生于1918年,出身自贫困而又文盲的移民家庭。其父亲崇锦公(Wan Chong Jin)早年从中国海南岛赴新加坡谋求生计,靠当小贩售卖绿豆汤勉强糊口。很不幸地,其父亲在雲茂潮四岁时不慎因鱼刺卡住喉咙而离世。换到今日,只要到诊所接受简单治疗一小时或就能避免这场悲剧。




















千载难逢的机会到来。雲茂潮的表兄是爱德华七世医学院校长乔治·艾伦博士(Dr George V. Allen)的理发师。他表兄将雲茂潮的剑桥高级文凭拿给艾伦博士过目,希望艾伦博士协助引荐工作。艾伦博士后来于1949年到1952年成为马来亚大学校长。



艾伦先生留意到雲茂潮的化学成绩考获优等,因此推荐他去拜访新加坡中央医院的总药剂师罗巴克先生(Mr Roebuck),但因为后者没有职位空缺,便请他到梅纳德药房(Maynard Pharmacy)拜会其两位好友库克先生(Mr Cook)和查尔默斯先生(Mr Chalmers)。他们接受先生作为学徒,让他放下心头大石。药房当时的所有职位皆由英国人担任。他的求职之路终于捎来好消息,获得一份稳定的工作。







在1943年,先生与陈玉贞女士(Annie Tan)结为夫妻。陈女士是一位会计的女儿,从小受英文教育。两人通过相亲认识。陈女士的很多朋友都嫁给没受过多少教育的富人。当她拜访雲茂潮家里时,留意到其高挂在客厅墙上的剑桥高级文凭。她当下决定,即使结婚对象的家庭并不富裕,她更想嫁给一位知识分子。









经营杀虫剂生意让先生走向成功之路。客户自备一篮篮的瓶子来大量购买杀虫剂。为满足不断增加的需求,他先在罗敏申路开设小型工厂,接着在巴耶利峇路开设一家更大的工厂。到了1960年代中期,他将杀虫剂工厂搬到武吉知马路门牌875号一栋面积更宽广的专用工厂里。该家工厂由当时的财政部长吴庆瑞博士(Dr Goh Keng Swee)主持开幕仪式。当生意继续扩张后,他在新山开设另一家工厂。他创立的杀虫剂品牌——“杀虫王”(Ridsect),在马来西亚、新加坡以及更广大的地区里已经成为家喻户晓的杀虫剂品牌。













新加坡国立大学感谢雲茂潮先生子女一直以来的支持,将中文图书馆命名为“雲茂潮中文图书馆”(Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library)。

Kisah Tentang Semangat Berdikari, Keazaman dan Keutuhan

Berdikari, berjimat cermat, merendah diri dan keutuhan – sifat-sifat ini serta berpandangan jauh, bekerja keras dan semangat keusahawaan membolehkan Wan Boo Sow (雲茂潮) bangkit daripada kemiskinan di luar bandar semasa awal hayatnya hingga beliau berjaya membina perniagaannya.


Sejarah awal

Boo Sow dilahirkan pada 1918 dalam sebuah keluarga miskin dan buta huruf yang berhijrah dari Pulau Hainan demi mencari kehidupan yang lebih baik di tanah jajahan British. Bapanya, Wan Chong Jin (雲崇锦), mencari nafkah sebagai penjaja bubur kacang. Pada usia 4 tahun, bapanya meninggal dunia disebabkan komplikasi akibat tersengkang tulang ikan. Dewasa kini, kejadian sebegini tentunya dapat dirawat di klinik.


Ibunya kemudian bernikah lagi dan meninggalkannya dalam jagaan pakciknya sebelah bapa. Keluarga pakciknya juga sedaif keluarga asalnya. Mereka menyara kehidupan dengan menternak ayam atas sebidang tanah kecil di Geylang. Kemiskinan sebegini merupakan lumrah kehidupan kebanyakan keluarga pada masa tersebut.


Zaman dewasa

Pada 1925, Boo Sow memulakan pendidikan formal di Sekolah Rendah Inggeris Geylang. Tujuh tahun kemudian, ia menuntut di Institusi Raffles selama empat tahun.


Oleh kerana keluarganya miskin, kadangkala Boo Sow tidak mampu membayar yuran sekolahnya berbulan-bulan. Gurunya yang perihatin tentang keadaan daifnya, mengizinkannya terus menghadiri kelas. Boo Sow tidak cemerlang dalam peperiksaan di sekolah rendah dan menengahnya kerana keluarganya tidak bertutur Bahasa Inggeris.


Pernah ketika kekurangan wang, Boo Sow membuat pengumuman bertulis menawarkan khidmat tuisyen. Ada beberapa ibu-bapa yang menghulurkan wang tanpa menghantar anak mereka mendapatkan khidmat tuisyennya. Ini merupakan cara mereka menderma wang untuk membantu seorang budak kampung yang miskin. Boo Sow sangat terharu atas jasa baik mereka.


Setelah tamat persekolahan, Boo Sow melakukan kerja-kerja seperti mengumpulkan sisa makanan dari restoran untuk diberi makan ayam itik ternakan, membersihkan kandang khinzir dan ayam itik ternakan, dan menghantar ternakan tersebut dan telur ternakan ke pasar. Pada waktu petang pula, Boo Sow mengajar bahasa Inggeris kepada tukang masak-tukang masak dan pelayan rumah-pelayan rumah Hainan. Ia juga membersihkan kasut sebuah keluarga Serani.


Mujur ibu saudaranya sangat mementingkan pendidikan dan sentiasa mendorongnya untuk belajar. Boo Sow selalu bertungkus-lumus untuk menghabiskan kerja-kerja sekolah dan berkat kerajinannya ia lulus peperiksaan Senior Cambridge.


Kemiskinan yang bertahun-tahun tidak pernah menghambat semangat Boo Sow. Keluarganya meneladani etika kerja yang kuat dan senantiasa bekerja keras demi memperbaiki kehidupan mereka. Ini boleh dijadikan pengajaran tentang semangat berdikari, berazam dan berjimat cermat.


Mencari pekerjaan

Selepas tamat pengajian Senior Cambridge pada 1937, Boo Sow mula mencari pekerjaan. Ia membuat permohonan untuk jawatan inspektor polis, pegawai hospital dan kerani bank tetapi permohonan-permohanan tersebut tidak berjaya. Bukan mudah untuk mendapatkan pekerjaan ketika itu dan lazimnya pekerjaan diberi atas syor kenalan. Boo Sow tidak mempunyai kenalan-kenalan sebegitu. Oleh kerana ia fasih dalam Bahasa Inggeris, ia mendapat pekerjaan sebagai seorang penterjemah kepada seorang pemilik ladang getah Hainan yang kaya dan sebagai guru kepada anak-anak hartawan tersebut.


Nasib menyebelahinya apabila sepupunya – seorang tukang gunting rambut kepada Dr George V. Allen, Pengetua Kolej Perubatan King Edward VII – menunjukkan Dr Allen sijil Senior Cambridge Boo Sow untuk meminta bantuannya. Dr Allen memegang jawatan Naib Chanselor Universiti Malaya dari 1949 hingga 1952.



Oleh kerana Boo Sow mempunyai kredit dalam jurusan farmasi, Dr Allen memberi perakuan kepada Tuan Roebuck, Ketua Farmasis di Hospital Besar Singapura. Malangnya disebabkan tiada jawatan kosong, Tuan Roebuck sebaliknya mengesyorkan Boo Sow kepada rakan-rakannya, Tuan Cook dan Tuan Chalmers dari Maynard Pharmacy. Boo Sow amat lega bila mereka memberinya tawaran bekerja sebagai perantis. Jawatan-jawatan sedemikian hanya disandang orang-orang British pada waktu itu.


Boo Sow melakukan yang terbaik untuk dirinya semasa menyandang jawatan tersebut. Dia bekerja keras, berusaha dan belajar sebanyak mungkin. Majikannya mengiktiraf kerja kerasnya dan memberinya ganjaran dengan kenaikan gaji. Namun begitu, ia terus bekerja dengan pemilik ladang getah di samping bekerja sebagai perantis dan melakukan dua pekerjaan kerana gajinya masih tidak mencukupi. Boo Sow perlukan kesemua pendapatan ini untuk menyara keluarganya.


Perkahwinan and kehidupan berkeluarga

Setelah empat tahun, perantisannya terhenti apabila Jepun menyerang Malaya dan Singapura pada akhir Disember 1941 dan menjajah hingga Ogos 1945. Sewaktu Penjajahan Jepun, Boo Sow berjaya mengumpul modal hasil membeli dan menjual ubat-ubat yang sangat diperlukan ketika itu. Ia bertuah kerana terselamat daripada pembunuhan beramai-ramai Sook Ching di mana ribuan lelaki Cina, terutama yang berpendidikan, ditangkap dan dibunuh oleh askar Jepun pada Februari dan Mac 1942. Dianggarkan 50,000 hingga 100,000 orang terkorban dalam kejadian kejam dan menggerunkan ini.


Pada 1943, Boo Sow mengahwini Annie Tan (陈玉贞) yang berpendidikan Inggeris -- anak perempuan seorang penyimpan kira-kira – yang dikenalinya melalui seorang pencari jodoh. Ramai rakan-rakan Annie berkahwin dengan lelaki kaya-raya tetapi berpendidikan rendah. Semasa Annie menemui Boo Sow di rumahnya, ia ternampak sijil Senior Cambridge Boo Sow yang dipamerkan di dinding ruang tamu rumahnya. Annie mengambil keputusan mengahwini seorang yang berpendidikan walaupun berasal dari keluarga yang tidak kaya-raya.


Annie merupakan penyokong dan tulang belakang kepada Boo Sow. Selain menjaga anak-anak mereka dan keluarga yang semakin membesar, dia membantu dalam perniagaan racun serangga yang diceburi Boo Sow selepas perang. Ia melakukan tugas menjual barangan farmasi dan racun serangga dari rumah ke rumah demi meyakinkan pembeli, suatu cara yang lumrah di zaman sebelum wujud pasaraya. Dia juga membantu dalam tugasan pentadbiran di pejabat kilang mereka.


Boo Sow dan Annie mempunyai tujuh orang anak, kesemuanya lulusan universiti. Lima daripada mereka merupakan lulusan Universiti Singapura. Tidak hairanlah jika keluarga Wan amat berbangga akan ikatan mendalam mereka dengan Universiti tersebut kerana graduan daripada keluarga tersebut merentas dua generasi.


Saat memulakan perniagaan

Selepas Jepun menyerah kalah pada 1945, Boo Sow mendaftarkan diri dalam kursus Farmasi di Kolej Perubatan King Edward VII. Ia tamat pengajian dalam kursus ini dan mendapat Diploma Farmasi pada 1948, ketika sudahpun mempunyai tiga orang anak. Dengan jumlah wang sederhana yang disimpan semasa Penjajahan Jepun, Boo Sow membuka The London Pharmacy di 109 High Street. Sebagai seorang ahli farmasi dan kimia bertauliah, ia membuat eksperimen dan mencipta ubat batuk dan racun serangga.


Jalan menuju kejayaan

Perniagaan racun serangga membuka jalan kejayaannya. Pelanggan datang membeli racun serangganya berbakul-bakul dengan membawa botol mereka sendiri. Untuk memenuhi permintaan yang bertambah, Boo Sow membuka sebuah kilang kecil di Robinson Road, dan kemudiannya sebuah kilang yang lebih besar di Paya Lebar. Pada pertengahan 1960an, ia berpindah ke kilang yang dibina khas dan lebih besar di 875 Bukit Timah Road, yang dirasmikan pembukaannya oleh Dr Goh Keng Swee, Menteri Kewangan Singapura ketika itu. Ini diikuti dengan satu lagi kilang yang dibuka di Johor Bahru. Ridsect (杀虫王), jenama racun serangganya, menjadi terkenal di Malaysia, Singapura dan rantau ini.


Boo Sow dan Annie senantiasa amat berbangga dengan susur-galur mereka yang berakar di Singapura dan kerana berpeluang menyaksikan perubahan Singapura daripada sebuah jajahan British kepada negara yang merdeka, makmur dan berbilang bangsa.



Walaupun berada, Boo Sow hidup secara berjimat dan sederhana dan tidak suka menunjuk-nunjukkan kemewahannya. Berdikari, jimat cermat, merendah diri dan keutuhan – sifat-sifat sedemikian sentiasa menjadi pegangannya dalam perjuangannya.


Sesudah melalui berbagai kesukaran dalam hidupnya semasa muda, Boo Sow memahami keadaan mereka yang tidak bernasib baik dan bersimpati dan murah hati terhadap mereka. Ia sentiasa bersedia membantu mereka yang kurang berkemampuan. Ia berkhidmat sebagai pengerusi Persatuan Kaum Wan.


Boo Sow percaya bahawa pendidikan mustahak dan merupakan faktor terpenting untuk seseorang dan menerapkan nilai ini dalam diri kesemua anak-anaknya. Ia seorang pelajar sepanjang hayat – sentiasa ingin tahu, bertanya, dan dahagakan ilmu pengetahuan dan berkeinginan membaiki diri tanpa henti.


Disebabkan pengaruh pengalaman dan nilai kehidupannya, anak-anak Boo Sow  telah membentuk beberapa anugerah dan biasiswa di pelbagai institusi pendidikan tinggi. Menyedari pentingnya sumber perpustakaan untuk menyokong pedidikan, keluarga Wan telah menderma kepada Perpustakaan NUS semenjak Julai 1995. Bertahun lamanya sokongan dana daripada keluarga Wan membolehkan koleksi Cina, Melayu dan Asia Tenggara di Perpustakaan NUS terus berkembang.


Sebagai pengiktirafan terhadap sokongan kuat keluarga Wan, Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura amat berbesar hati menamakan Perpustakaan Cina, Perpustakaan Cina Wan Boo Sow (雲茂潮中文图书馆).

In 2015, the Wan family established the Wan Boo Sow Endowment Fund to further support the Library’s efforts to acquire materials on Chinese Studies, Malay Studies and Southeast Asian Studies. View the acquired collection at the Wan Boo Sow Online Book Gallery.





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Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library (雲茂潮中文图书馆)

12 Kent Ridge Crescent

Singapore 119275

Tel: 65166949



Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library is located on the 5th and 6th floor in the Central Library Building.


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    • Alight at the bus stop opposite the Central Library, which is the second stop after the bus turns into the NUS campus (bus stop number 16189).
    • Take the staircases up to the overhead bridge linking Engineering and Central Library. Turn right at the end of the bridge.
    • The entrance to the library is located on your left, with pillars in maroon colour decoration. 
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    • Board Bus Service No. 95 from the bus stop on the opposite side of North Buona Vista Road.
    • Alight at the bus stop in front of the Central Library building (bus stop number 16181).
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    • Board either Bus Service No. 95 or the NUS Internal Shuttle Bus A1 from the bus stop on the side of the station.
    • Alight at the bus stop in front of the Central Library building.

    Alternatively, you may take Bus Service No. 151 to the NUS campus. Alight at the bus stop in front of the Central Library building.

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    Alight at the bus-stop at block AS8 (after the bus passes Central Library building) or opposite the road near NUS Information Technology building.

    Take the staircases up to the overhead bridge linking Engineering and the Central Library. Turn right at the end of the bridge. The entrance to the Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library is on your left with prominent maroon colour columns. 


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    Closed for renovations until further notice.
    Medical Library
    Level 5 Reading Area is open to NUS staff and students 24/7.
    Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library (雲茂潮中文图书馆)
    Closed 1-hour before Central Library's closing time during term time.
    Yale-NUS College Library

    Access is limited to staff, faculty and students of Yale-NUS College & NUS.

    Access is limited to members of the Yale-NUS community after 6pm.

    05 JUN - 11 JUN 2023

    Jun 05 Mon

    09:00 AM - 06:00 PM

    Jun 06 Tue

    09:00 AM - 06:00 PM

    Jun 07 Wed

    09:00 AM - 06:00 PM

    Jun 08 Thu

    09:00 AM - 06:00 PM

    Jun 09 Fri

    09:00 AM - 06:00 PM

    Jun 10 Sat

    10:00 AM - 05:00 PM

    Jun 11 Sun


    05 JUN - 11 JUN 2023 Jun 05 Mon Jun 06 Tue Jun 07 Wed Jun 08 Thu Jun 09 Fri Jun 10 Sat Jun 11 Sun
    Wan Boo Sow Chinese Library (雲茂潮中文图书馆) 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM 10:00 AM - 05:00 PM CLOSED
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