National Library Board
Feature | NLB

Writing a New Chapter on Library Innovation

The National Library Board’s (NLB) scholar, Winnie Tan, is driven by a passion to transform libraries into vibrant hubs of knowledge and learning, and make them accessible to all. She works alongside her colleagues to reshape the library experience and open new doors to reading, learning, and discovery.

Winnie Tan is currently a Manager in the Planning and Development Division at the National Library Board. She graduated from Yale-NUS College with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and was a recipient of the NLB Scholarship.

Winnie Tan is a steadfast believer in the enduring vitality of libraries and archives, a sentiment echoed by countless individuals worldwide. These repositories represent a veritable treasure trove of knowledge, information, and ideas, serving as an invaluable resource readily accessible to the community free of charge. Libraries constitute an essential cornerstone of any well-functioning society.

The National Library Board (NLB) upholds this legacy with remarkable expertise. NLB stands as a pillar of knowledge and culture in Singapore, committed to nurturing a nation of avid readers and lifelong learners. Over time, it has transformed into a dynamic institution that transcends conventional library and archive services, offering an abundance of digital resources, educational programmes, and community engagement initiatives. Serving as a hub for lifelong learning, including intellectual exploration and cultural enrichment, NLB plays an integral role in shaping our nation’s vibrant literary and learning landscape.

Since her graduation from Yale-NUS College as an NLB scholar, Winnie currently contributes commendable efforts within NLB as a Manager of the Planning and Development Division to help everyone learn and discover.

Charting a Path to Empowered Learning

“I was immediately drawn to the NLB Scholarship, as I strongly believe that libraries and archives play an important role in our society,” she shared. Her desire to contribute to NLB’s impactful work further fuelled her motivation to seize the scholarship opportunity.

The NLB Scholarship unlocked a world of opportunities for Winnie. Beyond financial support she received throughout her university career, the scholarship provided her with mentorship opportunities and ignited her insatiable thirst for knowledge. With NLB’s support, she pursued a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, which provided her with the flexibility to explore her myriad interests, leading her to major in Arts and Humanities. She also seized the chance to broaden her horizons by spending a semester abroad at a fashion school.

Reflecting on her journey, “NLB’s belief in nurturing my strengths and passions, and its recognition of the value of interdisciplinary skill sets, have been instrumental in my personal and professional development,” she said.

Her diverse education also helped her cultivate a deeper sense of empathy, allowing her to appreciate different perspectives and connect with people from all walks of life. “I became a better listener, collaborator, and problem-solver,” she reflected. “These skills have been invaluable in my work, where I am constantly striving to meet the needs of the community and create solutions that are accessible and effective in helping everyone learn and discover.”

“NLB’s belief in nurturing my strengths and passions, and its recognition of the value of interdisciplinary skill sets, have been instrumental in my personal and professional development.” Winnie Tan

Elevating Accessibility to Reading and Learning

Today, Winnie holds the role of a Project Manager for NLB’s Nodes, which provide a gateway to NLB’s e-resources accessible across the island in unexpected, everyday spaces, beyond its physical libraries and archives. Her role, alongside her team-mates, is an important part of NLB’s five-year transformation roadmap LAB25 (Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025) which invites partners and communities to collaborate in reinventing libraries and archives together for the future, as well as in the testing and delivering of innovative products and services that cater to the changing reading and learning needs of its patrons.

In her current capacity, Winnie’s responsibilities encompass introducing the Nodes concept to prospective partners and effectively garnering their participation.

“I also develop project management plans across divisions and with relevant stakeholders,” she added. “This includes content curation, determination of the necessary IT infrastructure, monitoring of project progress, and working with external partners on the overall design and theme to make each Node unique.”

Winnie approaches her responsibilities with a keen eye for detail, dedicating herself to crafting library services that resonate with the public.

“I constantly think about how to design my projects so that they are both exciting and accessible,” she said. “My training in art and fashion has been really helpful in this regard, as I can consider different styles and designs, guide our designers and contractors, and help make our Nodes really stand out and draw more people to read and discover more.”

Undoubtedly, the work of making libraries accessible and enjoyable to everyone is admirable, and it holds a profound impact on people’s lives – a responsibility Winnie cherishes deeply.

“When the projects are launched, I have the chance to speak with patrons who are using the services that my colleagues and I have designed. It is incredibly rewarding to see their happiness, gratitude, and amazement, and know that I have played a part in helping them to enjoy reading and learning,” she said.

Winnie Tan

Winnie Tan

Reimagining Library Spaces

One of the latest projects is the vibrant and exciting Comics Library at Anchorpoint, which will be open till September 2024. For this project, Winnie had the opportunity to hone her interpersonal skills, and learn to build valuable ties with her colleagues, community partners and vendors alike. Her role also entailed seamless coordination with multiple teams to curate book collections, implement essential technologies, and prepare a comprehensive omnichannel marketing plan.

“One patron told me that he had not been to a library in four years and was excited that this new concept was available,” she beamed. “It was incredibly rewarding to hear that we are inspiring patrons to visit our library spaces and that we are successfully making them more accessible.”

Seeing young adults, millennials, and Gen Zs enthusiastically enjoying the offerings at the Comics Library was profoundly fulfilling, and she is heartened to see firsthand the meaningful impact of her work at NLB.

She attributes her successful project and her growth as an NLB staff to the autonomy provided by the organisation, as well as its warm and open work culture. “There are always opportunities for development within NLB and all staff are encouraged to learn and grow,” she enthused. “As a scholarship recipient, I have been fortunate to have a mentor who supports and guides me closely in all aspects, including any questions and challenges I may have.”

Moving forward, Winnie aspires to play a leading role in innovating programmes and services, while leveraging emerging technologies to improve the overall experience for NLB’s patrons. She said, “I am passionate about using design to create new and exciting ways for people to access information and learn, and make a positive impact on all. NLB offers me myriad opportunities to work on such projects, and I hope to continue doing so in the future.”