In Singapore, unlike Kolkata, reading is not just passing time. It is a pledge, a requirement, a need, a promise and a national commitment and not just pleasure.
Singapore is committed to building a nation of readers! Here I am sharing three solutions to garner and infuse reading in Kolkata much more than it is prevalent today.
1) Setting up small libraries across the city/state
2) Starting a Reading movement (book club, Readers group, Online bhoochal)
3) Setting up Mobile Kiosks & mobile vehicles (to reach the lower community)
1) Small Libraries across the city – Singapore may be just a dot in the South East Asia but the small city-state has made its presence felt in many areas as it is the chosen centre or hub for many industries – shipping, IT, banking, infrastructure and industrial solutions, manufacturing etc. In the education sector it is not left behind but sought after as many of you may know Singapore’s math and science curriculum is world famous. Reading also is taken quite seriously in the primary and secondary schools here. Each and every school maintains a silent reading time for children even before the first period kicks in at 8 am.
“NLB or the National Library Board is an agency or Statutory Board under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI). NLB promotes reading, learning and information literacy by providing a trusted, accessible and globally-connected library and information service through the National Library and a comprehensive network of Public Libraries. By forging strategic partnerships to cultivate knowledge sharing, the libraries also encourage appreciation and awareness of Singapore’s history through their wide range of programmes and collection on Singapore and regional content.” Currently there are 26 Public Libraries island wide boasting a membership of 2.3 million members in the year 2015. The library consists of 7.9 million physical collection of books, periodicals, magazines etc. and 4.14 million e-book collection.
“The National Library is a national knowledge institution empowering individuals and businesses with knowledge and information as it continuously expands its vast array of reference collections and services. It preserves and makes accessible Singapore’s literary and publishing heritage and intellectual memory through the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library occupying seven floors (from Level 7 to 13) with a floor area of 60,000 square meters. The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, named after Dr Lee Kong Chian, in honour of the Lee Foundation’s S$60 million donation, aims to be the premier resource for works on or about Singapore and the region for local and overseas researchers and academics.”
I think what Kolkata can learn from Singapore Collection is the easy accessibility of books that Singapore provides to its common man, readers. In Kolkata there is one single National Library which has a huge collection of books and is situated at the Belvedere Estate. Why can’t a statutory board be set up and small libraries be established in small towns and districts and books brought in the libraries via donations and collections from various sources domestic and/or international. The stakeholders involved are the politicians, bureaucracies, NGOs and the public at large. Everyone benefits from this collaboration. A deep commitment to raising awareness about the importance of reading has to be spurred through media and the stakeholders involved. Corporates can also play a part to provide books or cash donations to buy books.
2) Reading Movement – Singapore has set up a reading movement to garner online support from its readers. Check out http://www.nationalreadingmovement.sg
This portal carries various information like reading tips for kids, teens, adults, information about book clubs, events etc are shared. You can get detailed information as to how to start your own book club by downloading the PDF from here. Schools can start Readers Group and these groups can meet across states, competitions can be set up like Weave a Tale, Spell Bee, Story Tellers competition etc. Classes of Show and Tell, Speech and learning, phonics, dramatics etc. can all be set up. Kolkata is infamous for its movements – most of them without a cause! No here is a reason why you can start one with a genuine and innocent cause! So start it Kolkata what stops you from doing that? Kolkata Bloggers Connect is well placed to start an online movement bringing all this together finding out the various bloggers who would like to take a lead in this. Start the online bhoochal!
3) Mobile Reading Solutions