Officially launched on 31st May 2013, the world’s first green library for children, My Tree House, aims to encourage children to explore, discover and learn to read about and care for the environment. To create this unique library, the National Library Board (NLB) partnered with City Developments Limited (CDL), a Singapore-listed international property and hotel conglomerate. The new space is located within Central Public Library (CTPL), an existing public library under NLB.
By Soh Lin Li and Lo Wan Ni. Originally posted in Büchereiperspektiven, Feb 2015.
The Children’s collection at CTPL comprises only Fiction books, in line with CTPL’s service concept of a lifestyle library with a special focus on the literary arts. In order to complement the library’s branding as a Green Library for Kids, non-fiction materials related to the Environment, Nature, Weather & Climate Change, Recycling and Plants are incorporated into the collection. These books comprise 30%, or 15,000 volumes, of the total Children’s collection.
Within two years of operation, the team has launched new and unique services for young readers.
My Tree House Earth Heroes’ Guide. Three issues of the My Tree House Earth Heroes’ Guide were published, which was targeted at children aged 7-12 years old. These guides draw information from books to promote the collection, as well as highlighting animals in nature. The three themes for Fiscal Year 2014 were “Amazing Animals”, “Marine Marvels” and “Disappearing and Vanished Creatures”. Along with these resource guides, simple activities were designed for the younger age group to get them interested in the topics. These activities included Tangram and jigsaw puzzles. These guides and activities proved to be popular with children who visited My Tree House.
My Tree House Ranger Tours. To get children excited about the library space and learn about its unique green features, the My Tree House Ranger Tour programme was launched in 2014. During this 30-minute segment, My Tree House Rangers bring children on a tour and explain the building features and the interactive features. The rangers also give out tips on recycling and reducing waste in everyday life.
The Book Wall. The Book Wall is a service to facilitate peer-to-peer reading recommendations. Children share their good reads with others by submitting their recommendations to librarians, and the write-ups are displayed on The Book Wall.
The signature programme is the Storytelling Session held every weekend under the centrepiece tree. Each storytelling session lasts half an hour, and is conducted by librarians and volunteer storytellers.
Apart from biweekly storytelling sessions, school holiday programmes are held for children aged four to twelve. In line with the green theme of My Tree House, the programmes usually have an environmental theme, like an activity-based programme on making paper beads with discarded magazines. As of 15 April 2014, a total of 139 programmes were held, attracting 4,433 children to My Tree House.
The team plans to have new services launched annually to attract more children to the library, as well as to sustain the interest of the existing regulars. We actively seek feedback from parents and children on what they wish to see in the library, and we try to bring these to fruition.