A Beginner’s Guide to Singapore’s Public Libraries

We don’t always have the space to store the all the books we’ve read and want to read


This is why a library membership is such a godsend. And the National Library Board (NLB) is doing a really awesome job of keeping our libraries stocked with the best and newest reads… and then some. 

Here’s what you need to know about libraries in Singapore. 


Can non-Singaporeans sign up for a library membership? 

Yes. You can register for one with your work permit, employment permit, dependant pass, special or visitor’s pass, student pass and Ministry of Education (MOE) School SmartCard.


And the membership fees? 

$10.50 for registration, along with an annual fee of $42.80. If your child is studying in one of the MOE schools, the annual fee will be waived.


How can I register? 

Head over to the customer service counters at all public libraries (except library@chinatown, library@orchard, Pasir Ris Public Library and Sembawang Public Library) to apply for a library membership. 


How many books can I borrow?

With your foreign membership, you can borrow eight library items (including four audio-visual materials!) for 21 days (for books, music scores, magazines and audio-visual materials).


Can I extend my loan period? 

You can renew books and music scores (if they’ve not been reserved by someone) for free for another 21 days, and they must be renewed before or on due date. However, you cannot do so for audiovisual materials or magazines. 


And what if I don’t return my items on time? 

Overdue fines are at $0.15 per book, magazine and CD-ROM (with accompanying book) per day and $0.50 per audio-visual item per day. You should return your items before or on the due date before midnight.

You will not be allowed to borrow any items until you pay your fines


Where are NLB libraries located? 

All over the island! There’s probably one near your home. Check out the full list of library locations


What other services do NLB libraries offer?

Microfilm and reprographic services, photocopying, multimedia stations, and Wi-Fi through the “Wireless@SG” wireless network. More information here


Library etiquette

  • Switch off your mobile phones or put them on silent mode. 
  • Speak softly at all times when you are in the library.
  • Food and drinks bought from the cafe in the library must not be consumed outside the cafe premises.
  • Do not sit on the floor among the shelves and in the aisles. You don’t want to block others from getting to the shelves. There are plenty of chairs and designated seating areas. 
  • Look after your belongings.
  • Do not run in the library. 
  • Parents should supervise their children to observe the library etiquette.
  • Unauthorised photography and filming are disallowed.
  • Do not sleep in the library. 


What is your favourite thing about Singapore libraries? Let us know on Facebook!


By Muneerah Bee, April 2016 


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