LAS Visit to Raffles Institution’s Raffles Archives & Museum, Hullett Memorial Library and Shaw Foundation Library

Step into HML, the oldest library in Singapore

The old and the new – this was the theme of our visit on 22 June 2016 to Raffles Archives & Museum (RAM), Hullett Memorial Library (HML) and Shaw Foundation Library (SFL) at Raffles Institution (RI).

It was a rainy afternoon – but it certainly did not dampen the spirits of the 30 participants and the visit proceeded with gusto. We started at the RAM, with a presentation by its head, Mrs Cheryl Yap. She shared about the place, purpose, patronage and other interesting points about the rich RI history that dated all the way back to 1823. She also shared on the Memory and Artifact Donation Drive, as well as RAM’s commitment to preserve RI tradition and culture. RAM also hosts exhibitions and gatherings for the Rafflesian alumni.

There were many questions from the participants who were keen to learn more about how the artifacts are curated.

One of the many interesting points was the Raffles Time Capsule – its sealing by Professor Tommy Koh on 25 July 2015 to mark the relocation of RAM to its current location, SG50 and the school’s 192 Founder’s Day. The well-known local filmmaker Ms Tan Pin Pin also filmed the time capsule earthing ceremony on 31 July 2015.

The group was then divided into smaller groups for guided tours conducted by student leaders. It was interesting to learn about the contributions of former principals throughout RI history, evolution of the student publication Rafflesian Times which was formerly known as the R.I. Times, small exhibitions of artifacts that belonged to distinguished Rafflesians, such as the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew and so on.

The displays have QR codes that contain more information about the artifacts to which it is attached. Throughout the guided tours, the student leaders also shared many interesting anecdotes about the provenance of various artifacts.

Mrs Cheryl Yap (4th from left) sharing the milestones of the RI history curated at RAM.

Mrs Cheryl Yap (4th from left) sharing the milestones of the RI history curated at RAM

How a typical RI classroom was like many years ago, as shown by a student leader (1st from right)

How a typical RI classroom was like many years ago, as shown by a student leader (1st from right)

Look out for the Rafflesian treasures from the 1960s. Spot the army cadet badges donated by Dr N Varaprasad, former NLB CE 2004-2010 and Principal of Temasek Polytechnic 1990-2001

Look out for the Rafflesian treasures from the 1960s. Spot the army cadet badges donated by Dr N Varaprasad, former NLB CE 2004-2010 and Principal of Temasek Polytechnic 1990-2001

After a brief tea break, the group made our way to HML. HML is also known as the RI’s secondary school library and used mainly by Year 1 to 4 students. RI’s Chief Librarian, Ms Joanna Yu shared on the range of library services and facilities available to support the learning needs of its users.

As we were brought on a guided tour, we learnt that the library was founded since 1923 to mark the centenary of RI’s establishment. Even the National Library of Singapore has its origin at the HML, which was previously known as the Singapore Institution Library – so that makes HML the oldest library in Singapore!

We learnt that it was named in honour of the longest serving school principal, Mr R W Hullett. We were impressed with the beautiful regency-styled wooden furniture, which provided a pleasant contrast to the contemporary sofas. We also learnt that the wooden chairs were known as the Raffles chairs – their design of the curved, extended back and swept-back legs was characteristic of chairs in the times of Sir Stamford Raffles.

Step into HML, the oldest library in Singapore

Step into HML, the oldest library in Singapore

The wooden chairs that we sat on were surprisingly comfortable, as we listened to Ms Joanna Yu (in white facing camera) sharing about the unique features of HML’s collection and services

The wooden chairs that we sat on were surprisingly comfortable, as we listened to Ms Joanna Yu (in white facing camera) sharing about the unique features of HML’s collection and services

Next, we moved on to the SFL, which is also known as RI’s junior college library and used mainly by Year 5 and 6 students. As we went on the guided tour, we learnt more about its contemporary architectural design, collection layout, range of resources and facilities such as discussion rooms.

The participants admired the late Brother Joseph McNally’s sculpture “Perennial Wisdom”, which was moved from RI’s former Mount Sinai campus to its current Bishan campus. The humanoid form gazes towards the sky in its quest for excellence as it ascends from the earth, symbolizing the Rafflesian spirit of endeavor

The participants admired the late Brother Joseph McNally’s sculpture “Perennial Wisdom”, which was moved from RI’s former Mount Sinai campus to its current Bishan campus. The humanoid form gazes towards the sky in its quest for excellence as it ascends from the earth, symbolizing the Rafflesian spirit of endeavor

Group photograph at the end of the visit

Group photograph at the end of the visit

The visit ended with a group photograph with the “Perennial Wisdom” as a backdrop, as we gratefully thank our RI hosts and LAS for making this enriching learning experience possible.

Submitted By: Foo Soo Chin, School of the Arts