Revamped Choa Chu Kang library boasts augmented reality learning trail

The revamped Choa Chu Kang Public Library, which reopens to the public today, is one example of what libraries in the future will look like.

The library, whose theme is (Re)connect With Nature, is the first in Singapore based on the concept of sustainability.

Visitors will be treated to an indoor garden, a hydroponics room and new digital learning tools such as live streams of nature and updates from the World Wildlife Fund Singapore.

Located on the fourth and fifth storeys of Lot One shopping mall in Choa Chu Kang, it underwent a two-year overhaul to become the seventh "next-generation library" in the National Library Board's (NLB) Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25). This is the NLB's masterplan to streamline its library and archive services.

The revamped library boasts an augmented reality (AR) learning trail where visitors experience immersive content by scanning QR codes around the library with their smartphones.

Speaking to guests at the library's reopening ceremony yesterday, Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo said libraries play a vital role in society by allowing the public to access knowledge and learn about different cultures.

She said: "With our fast-changing society, our libraries have also evolved and transformed to meet the changing needs and interests of Singaporeans."

Since 2017, NLB has revamped and reopened six libraries - library@harbourfront, Sengkang Public Library, Bukit Panjang Public Library, Bedok Public Library, Tampines Regional Library and Yishun Public Library.

Mrs Teo said the challenge for NLB is to find new ways to capture the spirit of the times and the aspirations of the people.

She said that in the past, visitors to libraries could only look at pictures to learn about the endangered sambar deer or rubber tapping in the 19th century.

"Now with the AR learning trail, visitors can get up close and learn in ways they may not have experienced before," she said.

The assistant chief executive of NLB's Archives and Libraries Group, Ms Catherine Lau, said NLB is adopting a more experimental approach with its LAB25 masterplan.

"What we're trying to do this time is call out to like-minded partners so they can come on board with NLB to create and try out new ideas with us."

She also said the upcoming regional library in Punggol, slated to open next year, will be the first to feature integrated services catering to people with disabilities and will be built around the theme of inclusivity.