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CDNLAO Newsletter

No. 101, March 2023

Special topic: CDNLAO Meeting

The NLB Singapore's ‘Blueprint’ approach to a VUCA landscape

By Alicia Yeo, Director, National Library, Singapore

The National Library Board (NLB) of Singapore was pleased to attend the 28th Conference of Directors of National Libraries in Asia and Oceania which was held in Jakarta, where we were warmly hosted by our friends at the Perpustakaan Nasional Republik Indonesia (PNRI) from October 24-27, 2022. After years of online meetings due to the pandemic, it was very good to see each other in person during this conference.

With the theme of "Library Service Impacts on Community: Sustainability, Inclusion and Innovation", NLB was invited to speak about our innovative library services for the Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) era. We shared about our latest Libraries & Archives Blueprint 2025 (LAB25) which aims to work more closely with strategic partners and communities to collaborate in reimagining the future of reading and learning and memory making. Because we are living in a VUCA era, our strategic plans can no longer be fixed for 10 years, but like blueprints and like a ‘lab’ environment, are very much drawings that can be redrawn, experimental, and like any innovation, tweaked and trialed rapidly.

The LAB25 can be summarized in four roles that NLB sees itself playing:

(1) Providing a Learning Marketplace – to instill lifelong learning through not just acquiring content in emerging formats but also acting as a gateway to partners’ content, and tapping on partners’ reach and popular platforms to proliferate content, learning pathways and learning communities

(2) Nurturing an Informed Citizenry – cultivating a habit of good information discernment and critical thinking, through reading combined with information literacy campaigns and programmes

(3) Inspiring generations of Singapore Storytellers – collecting and capturing the Singapore experience both long past and currently evolving; keeping it for posterity as the digital preservation leader for the Singapore government; connecting more people to our rich trove of heritage materials for their use – all this also enables us to tell the stories of our past whilst inviting others to contribute theirs, to keep our cultural memory relatable, relevant and alive.

(4) Bridging gaps as an Equalizer – this involves empowering the less mobile & less tech-savvy with a safe space to pick up digital skills and trends so as to thrive in a digitalized economy and society; raising awareness and adoption of digital wellness habits; and providing inclusive library services for persons with disabilities.

< The four roles of NLB's Libraries and Archives Blueprint 2025 >

Meanwhile, many other presentations were made by delegates concerning sustainable, green and inclusive library services, and there were also other learning opportunities during the 4-day conference. We were treated to a tour of the PNRI building with its lovely views of both the historic and financial business districts of Jakarta, and where a special display of rare materials were shown. They are testament to Indonesia's rich history of languages, mythologies and memories.

< Two of the early manuscripts displayed by PNRI, that have been inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World register >

We were also offered a smorgasbord experience of wonderful Indonesian arts and cultural delights, through visits to the Bank Indonesia Museum's Art Deco building ca. 1828, the newest public library of Jakarta city located within an arts complex which had opened in July 2022, and to various shops and eateries where we were enticed with a full range of Batik textiles, Kueh Kueh (sweet confectionaries) and coffee sourced from as far and wide as Aceh, Sulawesi, Sumut and Papua. We would like to thank once again the PNRI for their generous hospitality and congratulate them on a successful conference.

Copyright (C) 2023 National Library Board, Singapore