Left: Kimberley Chiu, NLB Undergraduate Scholar, is currently working as an Associate Librarian in Ang Mo Kio Public Library. Even though her Masters in Library Science at University of London was suspended for a year due to Covid-19, she is making good use of her time as part of the Adults' Services team, working on programmes and initiatives to foster reading and learning among adults in Singapore.
Right: Jedrek Koh Wei Ze, an NLB Undergraduate Scholar, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Human, Social and Political Sciences in University of Cambridge.
In encouraging awareness, appreciation and greater discovery of Singapore's history through its rich collections on Singapore and the region, there are resources to be curated and managed, dozens of programmes aimed at promoting literacy and learning, and a concerted thrust towards digital solutions for readers and librarians alike.
In the thick of things is Kimberley Chiu, NLB Undergraduate Scholar, who is currently working as an Associate Librarian in Ang Mo Kio Public Library. Even though her Masters in Library Science at University of London was suspended for a year due to Covid-19, she is making good use of her time as part of NLB's Adult Services team, working on programmes and initiatives to foster reading and learning amongst adults in Singapore.
Waiting in the wings is her counterpart, Jedrek Koh Wei Ze, an NLB Undergraduate Scholar pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Human, Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He has been soaking up all the learning he can as he looks forward to contributing to NLB upon his return.
As is to be expected of NLB's Undergraduate Scholars, both were eloquent and well-spoken as they enlightened us about their journey with NLB.
Out of all the scholarships that you've applied for, why did you choose to join NLB?
Kimberley: NLB is the organisation that best fits my personality and interests; it's full of friendly, warm, and creative people, and the culture here is a lot more collaborative than competitive, which is exactly what I want out of a workplace.
I love books, I love reading, and I have always wanted to do work that helped build and serve communities. And, I just love libraries; they are magical places to me all through my life, and it is still very exciting to work in one every day!
Jedrek: I chose NLB because the vision and mission of the organisation resonates deeply with me. Its commitment to cultivating learning communities and building a knowledgeable nation through creative possibilities is something that I believed in.
This is the organisation where I can apply my analytical and innovative skills: bringing knowledge to Singaporeans in ways that would improve the quality of their lives.
Kimberley, tell us about your work as part of the Adult Services Team.
Kimberley: I am an Associate Librarian at Ang Mo Kio Public Library, and I am focusing specifically on services for adults and our English adult fiction and non-fiction collections. Much of my work is project-based and involves planning and executing events and coming up with new strategies for engaging with patrons and meeting their needs.
On a personal level, there is something of a generation gap between me and many of the patrons served by the Adult Services team, as I am at the younger end of the large age range we serve! Luckily, my colleagues have been very good at getting me up to speed on our older patrons' interests and information needs, and there are a lot of areas in which a younger perspective has been helpful.
Jedrek, we understand you did an internship with NLB, attached to Children and Teens services. What was that like?
Jedrek: My job scope at Children's and Teens' Services included helping out in several projects in the department, ranging from building up an NLB book keep list using advanced excel skills such as VLookup to navigate big data, to ideation presentations to mind map potential digital programmes we can launch in the future.
Creating a comprehensive digital tools list for librarians to use and learn from was very meaningful to me. It included various digital and media platforms which I accumulated through environmental scanning work. It was a meaningful project that filled in the growing knowledge gaps within the civil service, created as people take on new roles in a changing information and technological landscape.
What opportunities are there for scholars in NLB?
Kimberley: There are a lot of different areas to work in at NLB: we have jobs in planning, operations, and content and services development, both in the public libraries and in the National Library and National Archives of Singapore. NLB encourages its officers to develop different skills and try new things, and tends to be open to people moving across departments and divisions.
Jedrek: There are many different paths to take depending on your interests. For instance, if you find yourself in the National Archives of Singapore, then you could specialise in handling and recording important segments of our nation's history. Alternatively, as a librarian in the public libraries, you could curate creative content. I believe that NLB is a good place to nourish creative and innovative skillsets as a lot of our work has to do with bringing knowledge to life.
Finally, why should someone join NLB?
Kimberley: The library is one of our most well-beloved public institutions, and it is loved for a reason. Libraries are repositories of knowledge that are committed to the idea that everyone is entitled to high-quality, easily accessible information regardless of their ability to pay for it.
Kimberley is such a comic enthusiast, she wrote her undergraduate dissertation on trauma and character theory in fanfiction about Bucky Barnes, the Marvel character.
To work in the library is to be a part of all that, and frankly I cannot see why anyone would not want to be!
Jedrek: Aspiring scholars should join NLB if they have a passion for knowledge sharing and feel like they are willing to commit themselves creatively to the long-term goal of Singapore progressing as a smart nation.
In a time where libraries as physical spaces of learning have been challenged by new advancements in technology and changing information landscapes, this is the most exciting time to be a scholar at NLB because of the imperative for transformation in order to remain relevant in a new age.