Ghim Moh resident sets up community children’s library at her landing to share the joy of reading

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SINGAPORE: There are less than 50 books in this children’s library, but it has already proven to be a hit with some residents of Ghim Moh.

“One of the families here, they have young children, and then a few floors down too. They are still trotting so they will go up the stairs, they will come… Sometimes I see the books being removed or rearranged and I know they (were) here. And then my neighbors (will say), oh yes, we see little children coming, ”Ms. Yvonne Looi said with a laugh.

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The self-described full-time mom is the architect behind the Little Library, which is a little reading nook she has set up at her elevator landing on the 39th floor. Less than two months old, he has two chairs, several cushions and plenty of natural light – an ideal environment for a quiet afternoon of reading.

Most of the books are children’s books and include classic titles by Enid Blyton and collections of fairy tales and bedtime stories. There are also a couple of adult books, a bonus for parents sifting through the selection.

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Besides the books, Ms. Looi also provided the chair, left by a friend, the wooden crate to hold the books, a plant from her living room and an old frame from her mother.

Most of the books in the library were from Ms. Looi’s personal collection. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

The small library gained attention after Ms Looi spoke about it in the Books Don’t Throw and Viral Kindness SG Facebook groups in January. Since then, she has received six to eight offers from strangers wishing to contribute their own books to the library, and around five other parents have indicated an interest in visiting the library.

Although it’s called a library, anyone is free to keep the books or share them with others, and people can also contribute any books they have on hand.

She is aware that some might be concerned about the risk of contracting COVID-19, which is why she left a note that visitors do not have to return the books if they do not wish, or clean up and disinfect the books if they intend to. to bring them back. She also left a bottle of hand sanitizer and sanitizes the library daily.

CREATE A COMMUNITY OF BOOK LOVERS

The idea of ​​a community library started when Ms. Looi, a book enthusiast, came across some well-kept books that were being thrown away. While saving the books, she realized that some people might not know where to bring unwanted books.

She also wanted to start something, to get to know the community of “book worshiping families” back home.

Her neighbors “supported” the initiative, she said, and Ms. Looi told residents she meets in the elevators about her library. She also told her community of young mothers in the neighborhood about the library – a group she started.

She feels the “kampung spirit” and sense of community when people visit her library, she says, as she meets people she doesn’t really see.

Ghim Moh Community Children's Library 3

The library has a note reminding users to clean the books if they intend to return them. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

She even made friends through the library. Ms. Sundari Paramasivan, 49, who lives nearby, is a contributor who discovered Ms. Looi’s library through her Facebook posts.

“I thought it was very cute and it was a coincidence that I also lived in Ghim Moh,” Ms. Sundari said. Although her children have already grown up, she still keeps some books that they read as a child, she said.

“(Reading books) is a shared moment with your child, so you want to pass it on to someone who you know will use it,” she says. “I thought it was a good initiative, and if there was a way for me to help, it would make it meaningful to me as well.”

Retired librarian Mary Jacobs Mathew, 70, was “so encouraged” when she saw Ms Looi’s Facebook post.

“I think reading is really going to become a lost art… If there is anything you can do to encourage your child to buy books when they’re young and hang them up then that would be wonderful,” she says.

“I just think books can send you to different worlds and that helps your imagination.”

She added that young parents might find it difficult to bring young children to the library, and having a children’s library nearby might help. Books could also be a door to a “bigger world” for children who cannot afford to travel, she said.

SHARE THE JOY OF READING

Even though she had no expectations of the library when she started out, Ms. Looi is encouraged to see her two sons embrace the spirit of sharing.

“Sometimes my son will say, ‘Oh, mom wait, this one we have two copies, or this one I’m already done, maybe we can give it to other people, who haven’t. (no books) ‘… It’s the idea of, okay, if I’ve had enough or if I’m done, someone else can take a turn, ”she says.

Ghim Moh Community Children's Library 4

Mrs. Looi and her son read a book. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

Finally, she hopes that the library can have its own space, so that more people have access to the books, and she has already discussed this with the city council.

“So later, who knows?” Maybe in different areas or neighborhoods we can have this ready to promote the act of loving books and just giving, ”she said, adding that she is considering a reading nook next to each. playground, or even a small library with each landing lift.

Regarding what she hopes the reading nooks can achieve, Ms Looi said: “I think that would be just to love a book and really enjoy it. Connecting people together is my goal… and you can share the joy of reading. “

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