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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reason Why Personal Notes Are Not Allowed Into National Library Reference Section

I recently emailed the National Library Board to ask why personal notes or books are not allowed into the reference section. I argued personal notes should be allowed if we need to make reference against it while looking for reference books. I questioned why books borrowed from the library are allowed into reference section but not personal books. I questioned if I happen to find a book with the same title as my own book from the library and borrow it, I can now bring it in. Why are rules rigid?

If you were to visit the reference section of the National Library carrying a bag, you would be asked if you have a laptop with you. If your answer is a yes, then you are allowed into the library, otherwise, you are to leave your bag in a locker first. Their argument is laptop is used for reference purposes. But how often do patrons with a laptop really use it to do research? Very often, I see them doing their own project, if not, many end up doing group project engaging in noisy or sometimes in whisper but annoying group discussions. I do not see them making references to the reference books there. I admit I usually am involved in my own stuff with a laptop. My point is why laptops are allowed in so easily but not personal notes or books.

I am not convinced by the reply from the National Library board. According to them, the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library is the main reference library in Singapore that is fully open to the public. Unlike the Community and Regional Libraries or the Central Lending Library at Basement 1, the collections, services and facilities are mainly to serve users who wish to consult reference materials for reference and research purposes. These materials are not for loan and some of the collections there are valuable, unique and extremely difficult to replace. To discourage the use of the reference library as a space for personal reading and study without reference to LKCRL's materials and to ensure the security of these materials, users are permitted to bring in only blank sheets of paper and writing materials into the reference library. They are requested to deposit their personal materials in the free lockers provided on Levels 7 to 11. In addition, there are also study areas at Level 5 for users wanting to do their self-study. Nevertheless, should users need to bring in their personal notes to reference against the LKCRL's collection, the security officer should refer the request to the librarian at the Information Counter for assistance.

The other regional libraries do have their own reference section. What makes their rules different from the LKCRL? I have already stated my many questions and doubts on what are the allowed and what are the not allowed items. Laptops are allowed in and I do not see why personal notes or books are not allowed into. If the rules meant to be so rigid, then should the purpose of bringing in laptops be questioned as well to prevent misuse? Should users be made to declare they must make reference to library books when in LKCRL? If not, please get out?

Rules are rigid.

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