Big dreams for mini-libraries
Book-sharing initiatives to encourage reading take root in Singapore
On a grass patch, between a pavilion and a playground, a blue cloud-shaped box stands almost a metre off the ground.
Closer, one can see a variety of books inside it, from Fight Club to The Internet For Dummies - the mix changes. Some days, it sits empty.
It is the Happy Cloud Library, a mini-library next to Block 201, Bukit Batok Street 21.
On a wall of the pavilion next to it is a poster - "Give a book. Take a book. Enjoy the book."
The New Paper understands that the initiative may be extended to other parts of Bukit Batok.
Set up in July, the Happy Cloud Library is the brainchild of Ms Kelly Ho, 37, a lawyer who lives in the neighbourhood.
She was inspired by the Little Free Library, a book-sharing and social movement that has taken root in countries such as the United States, Australia, Ghana and even Afghanistan.
"I thought this will encourage children and people to read. I decided to fund the first one and see how the response will be," said Ms Ho.
In June, she approached Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai for help and was put in touch with some volunteers, who helped distribute postcards about the Happy Cloud Library and set it up.
It was officially launched in August.
Ms Ho has been "manually monitoring" the response. Sometimes, she enlists the help of her parents, both retirees, to replenish the books.
Occasionally, the books are all swept up, leaving none for the next passer-by, but Ms Ho sees it as a positive sign.
"No doubt there will be people who abuse this, but it is better to give people the benefit of the doubt," she said.
"If we do not start somewhere, nothing good will ever come out of anything."
The Happy Cloud Library comes after a series of book-sharing initiatives.
One is by wedding planner Bryan Lim, who set up something similar outside his house on Wolskel Road in Serangoon. He was also inspired by the Little Free Library movement.
The National Library Board (NLB) runs mobile libraries designed to reach out to the under-served community who are not able to visit the library.
Called Molly, it has been visited about 630,000 times since its launch in 2008. Two mini-Mollys were launched in 2014.
"We will continue to improve our services for Molly and mini-Molly to reach out to more people, such as the special needs community as well as childcare centres and kindergartens," an NLB spokesman said.