Saturday 25 October 2014

Library@orchard returns

library@orchard scores with books and looks
Facility is back after 7-year break, with its collection focused on design
By Huang Lijie, The Straits Times, 24 Oct 2014

AFTER a seven-year hiatus, the much-loved library@orchard is back and looking better.

Opened yesterday, the two-storey library on the third and fourth floors of the orchardgateway shopping mall is a chic, cosy space that would look right at home in the pages of a trendy magazine or book on design.

Sleek, curvilinear white shelves, buff bamboo floors and black walnut chairs with leather seats from home-grown furniture label Air Division - the chair retails at more than $1,600 - are among features that lend the public library in Orchard Road a fresh, sophisticated look.

The collection of books and magazines also stands out from those at other public library branches with its focus on design, including fashion, graphic and interior design - which caters to a fashion-conscious crowd.

Of the about 100,000 fiction and non-fiction books available, more than 45,000 are design-related and 46 magazine titles are new and exclusive to library@orchard, including cult art and design magazines such as Designo, BITE and Works That Work.

The previous library@orchard in Ngee Ann City closed in 2007.

Other themed libraries under the National Library Board (NLB) include library@esplanade, which spotlights the performing arts, and library@chinatown, which specialises in Chinese art and culture.

The design of library@orchard is the result of public feedback and in-depth interviews with users, said the NLB's assistant director of public library services, Ms Jasna Dhansukhlal, 40. This is the first public library to seek and integrate public feedback into its design, collection and services.

After working with about 30 students and lecturers from the Singapore Polytechnic to understand library users' needs and looking at feedback from more than 1,000 members of the public, it came up with ideas such as interactive book shelves - dubbed Book Trees - and nooks for library-goers to read in solitude, called Cocoons.

Each of the four Book Trees displays a selection of books, magazines and audio-visual material on specific topics such as photography and culinary art. An interactive digital screen allows users to browse other resources on the subject and add recommendations to the list by scanning their pick of library books at the shelf.

The five Cocoons, meanwhile, feature curved, dark wood panels that wrap around single seats to create partially enclosed spaces for readers.

The Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who opened the library, said: "The 'firsts' for the library@orchard are a testament to our commitment to evolve and keep pace with Singaporeans' changing lifestyle needs."

Other visitor-friendly features include a digital video wall with sound that comes only from isolated spots marked on the floor, so as not to disturb other users.

Visitors to the library yesterday included office workers on their lunch breaks.

Retail manager Bernard Que, 43, who popped in during lunch hour, said: "It's parked right in Orchard Road. The place feels spacious and it has a good selection of fashion books."

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