Saturday, September 30, 2006

Libraries

As I mentioned before, I love books and it was one of the reason that I worked in a bookshop for the first 5 years of my working life. Up till today, I'm still involve in the book industry... most recently by importing books and magazines from Korea. haha!

Anyway, though my family wasn't poor, they certainly weren't rich enough to indulge in my craving to buy a book every other day. Buying a book was a treat. So most of the time, I borrow them from the libraries. Often, it would be the one nearest my place, which was in Toa Payoh. But when I got older, I would sometimes head down to the National Library in Stamford Road. Most of us would remember the red-bricks building in Stamford Road.

That building has since been torn down to make way for the new Singapore Management University. There were efforts to save it as it held much fond memories for most of us. Unfortunately, it didn't work and on 31st March 2004, it was shut down permanently.

The National Library sits in a new site today nearby- spanking new, bigger and with better facilities. Really first rate in terms of facilities. In fact all the new libraries are much better equipped nowadays. It has multi-media galore, bright color seats, and even tucked-away corners for that privacy. You can reserve books and renew them online. You can also return books 24/7 at the drop-off point in the libraries. Very convenient. In other words, a strive to dispel the boring, old, stuffy image of the traditional library and encourage the young to come in.

A end result of all these is that it has often become very noisy in the library. At least, that's the way at the library near my place.

Call me old fashion, but a tiny, tiny, tiny part of me like the libraries of yesterday that I once knew.

The slightly musty smell, the hushed tone, the concentrated, absorbed look as each of us search for treasures amongst the rows and rows of books on the shelves.

There was an air of reverence in the library, as if it is a door to another magical world. And to me, it was.

I still remembered, after a trip to the National Library, armed with books, I would then head to the small food place next to the library. This is not the S-11 that was there in the last few years but an older, small hawker centre with a mish-mash of food stalls. One very popular stall was this ice-kachang stall there. The stall was always teaming with bees but that didn't stop any of us from enjoying the very delicious ice-kachange espeically on a hot day. Come to think of it, the rest of the stalls there weren't any cleaner either. But the place was always full. It's a wonder none of I never got any food poisoning.

And then after a visit to the library, I would make my way to MPH, a major bookshop in a very prominent red and while building just firther down the road. You would think after a visit to the library, I would be sick of seeing more books. But far from it, a visit to MPH was like a visit to wonderland. It was 3 stories high and was crammed full of books, toys and stationries. Even if I couldn't buy anything, it was still a thrill to window shop there.

Sadly, even that MPH is no longer in existence today.

Oh the building is still around as it is gazzetted as a national mounument.

But it is no longer a bookshop.

In the march of time, all things change... I just wished I had taken photos of the these two places as they were then.

Anyway, two days ago, I went to library to borrow 2 books on gardening, hoping to bring some more life to my tiny balcony.

But that is another story. ^^

Enjoy your weekend everyone.

2 comments:

bb said...

i remember feeling terribly sad that the MPH house and the library had to go.... :(

know what? i haven't even been to the new library yet. it looks so big, so spanking new and high-tech that it kindda puts me off, honestly. i like my national library abit stately, abit old, with abit of history...

tiffany said...

bb, I went to the National Library just once. It felt really high-teach and because of the design, I couldn't sense the warmth in it. I may be wrong and I'd probably pop by to visit it again.

I think all the libraries are slightly different from the ones we know in the past. But the one in Orchard road and the one Esplanade still retains some of that 'library' feel.