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    Jun 30, 2016

    Promise to read? NLB gives away free books

    FEWER people are borrowing books so, in a bid to encourage reading, the National Library Board (NLB) will be giving away books - to those who make a vow to read.

    Those interested in getting their hands on these books can go to two mini mobile libraries this Saturday.

    All they have to do is to sign an online pledge to read. In return, they will be given a choice of three books, previously from libraries here, from a range of genres, spanning children's books to non-fiction.

    These mini libraries - vans packed with books - will be parked this Saturday at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, from 8am to 11am, and at East Coast Park, from 4pm to 7pm.

    The book giveaway is part of the National Reading Movement, a campaign launched by the NLB to cultivate active reading habits in Singapore. Around 10,000 books will be given out.

    It is also a response to the NLB's borrowing records for 2015, which showed that 32.5 million books were loaned from public libraries nationwide. This number pales in comparison with the 38.5 million books loaned in 2012 when borrowing was at its peak.

    The lower reading trend was also reflected in the first National Literary Reading and Writing Survey whose findings were released in March.

    They showed that more than half of the 1,015 Singaporeans and permanent residents surveyed had not read a literary book between March 2014 and March 2015.

    Kenneth Quek, deputy director of the National Book Development Council of Singapore, said though he sees people reading physical books on trains, reading for pleasure's sake might not be a habit for many.

    He added: "There are a lot of things that compete for our attention: television, movies, social media.

    "With all these distractions, you first have to know the pleasure of reading before you become a regular reader."

    There are, however, people who have not forgotten the joys of the written word.

    Ng Hongwen, a 23-year-old undergraduate, for instance, enjoys reading both literary works and online fan fiction.

    She said reading provides an escape from the humdrum of daily life.

    "Reading is enriching, and best of all, I don't have to pay for it. Library books are free," she added.

    Stanley Tan, acting director of public library services (NLB), said the book giveaway drive aims to help people embark on a lifetime of reading.

    "The idea is to introduce interesting reads to as many people as possible, in the most unexpected way.

    "In the parks, we can reach out to families and encourage them to cultivate positive reading habits," he added.

    Sivaranjini Sathiamoorthy, 14, an NLB volunteer who will be involved in the giveaway, said she and her team of 30 are very excited to play a part in encouraging people to read more.

    She added: "Books have been my passion since I was a child and reading has always been a big part of my life."

    "Reading also makes you gain general knowledge which you don't get elsewhere."