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Exploring Esplanade Library

Let’s take a visit and walk through of the Esplanade Library at the Esplanade mall. The library is operated by the National Library Board (NLB), is located on the top third floor of the Esplanade mall by Marina Bay in Singapore. This prime location offers you the opportunity to enjoy breathtaking views of the Singapore Central Business district cityscape while immersing in the world of arts and music.

The interior and general library and seating areas at Exploring Esplanade Library
The interior and general library and seating areas at Esplanade Library.

On bit of history, the library was officially opened by Khaw Boon Wan, then the senior minister of state for Transport, in September 2002, the Esplanade Library has become a cherished destination for artists, musicians, and performing arts enthusiasts.

Library entrance, welcomes you to the adventures within
Library entrance, welcomes you to the adventures within.

Additionally, the establishment sits located on the top third floor of the Esplanade mall. The library is strategically positioned to attract visitors who are already drawn to the vibrant arts and cultural scene of Marina Bay. The surrounding area boasts iconic landmarks such as the Esplanade- Theatres on the Bay and the ArtScience Museum. This concentration of artistic institutions creates a vibrant atmosphere that further enhances the appeal of the Esplanade Library for arts enthusiasts.

A library for the arts

Furthermore, one of the distinguishing features of the Esplanade Library is its dedicated focus on the performing arts and music. This specialization sets it apart from other libraries in Singapore and positions it as a valuable resource for individuals seeking in-depth knowledge about these subjects.

Main airy lobby space with an area for exhibitions
Main airy lobby space with an area for exhibitions.

Also, the library’s collection showcases an impressive array of books. This ranges from biographies of renowned musicians to academic texts on various music genres and performing arts disciplines. You can explore topics such as music theory, composition, dance history, and theatrical arts. There is also a section dedicated to graphic art books I particularly adore. This comprehensive coverage ensures that the library caters to the needs of both aspiring artists and seasoned professionals.

Art and movie graphic books are an interesting find here at the Esplanade library
Art and movie graphic books are an interesting find here at the Esplanade library.

You can explore the library’s offerings before or after attending performances at the nearby Esplanade theaters. It makes for a convenient one-stop and enriching addition to arts and cultural experience.

Also, it provides a platform for emerging artists to showcase their talents. The area is thoughtfully designed, featuring ample seating options, cozy reading nooks, and display panels for exhibition purposes. The flexibility of this space demonstrates the library’s commitment to fostering creativity and artistic expression within its walls.

A friendly and tranquil atmosphere

Moreover, the Esplanade Library prides itself on offering a serene and peaceful environment for its patrons. As I entered the library, I immediately noticed the spacious entrance and lobby area. This open space serves as a versatile venue for hosting art exhibitions and events. During my visit, there was a photographic exhibition on Chinese Wayang.

Wayang exhibition
Photo display

Adjacent to the entrance and lobby area are the book loan machines. The library also boasts a service and information counter, where friendly and knowledgeable library personnel stand ready to assist with any queries or recommendations. This personalized approach enhances the overall visitor experience, making the library a welcoming and accessible space.

Library grounds
Staff counters
Library entrance

Hence, whether you are a seasoned musician looking for a specific score or a curious individual exploring the world of performing arts for the first time, the dedicated staff members are there to guide you through the vast collection and provide valuable insights.

Fancy a play?
Fancy a play?
Theatre icons
Music scores
Music history

Moving further into the library, a sense of tranquility envelops the space. It is not overly crowded, allowing visitors to find solace and focus on their chosen activities. Patrons and students occupy the various shared seating tables and work areas, engrossed in their studies or music research. Also, the library’s serene ambience provides an ideal environment for concentrated reading, writing, or simply enjoying the solitude amidst the bustling cityscape outside.

A library mini stage

To further cater to its arts focus, the Esplanade Library features a performance arts section that truly stands out. This specialized area boasts a mini stage, complete with flip-up theater seats. It creates an intimate space mimicking a scene of live performances. The purposeful inclusion of this feature adds to the overall ambiance of the library. It allows for you to immerse themselves in the performing arts experience.

Small stage and seating area within the library nested between book shelves
Small stage and seating area within the library nested between book shelves.

Also, adjacent to this small stage are working high tables that lines the exterior glass windowed walls shaded by blinds. When seated, it offers an ideal vantage point for you to enjoy panoramic views of the Marina Bay area.

Work tables
Cinema foldable benches
Raffles Ave View

Moving onto the far end of the library, you can find a cosy reading area with large sofas. The seating are strategically placed near large windows. This reading area offers comfortable sofas you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Marina Bay Reservoir. Here you can see the iconic Esplanade open performance stage, and the majestic Marina Bay Sands building in the background.

Cosy seating areas at the far end of the library overlooking the Marina Bay
Cosy seating areas at the far end of the library overlooking the Marina Bay.

Great views from the library

Moreover, the scenic vista extends to include the nearby Marina Square and the prominent Singapore Flyer. It offers a picturesque backdrop for readers and contemplators alike. This panoramic view enhances the overall reading experience, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in literature while simultaneously enjoying the beauty of their surroundings.

View of Marina bay from the library at the 3rd floor of the Esplanade mall
View of Marina bay from the library at the 3rd floor of the Esplanade mall.

Furthermore, the esplanade library has a unique curated collection that focuses primarily on arts, culture, music, and dance. Here, books on these subjects form the mainstay of the library, catering to musicians, artists, and enthusiasts. Still, it is open for patrons seeking to get started on the arts, of simply expand their knowledge and deepen their understanding of the arts domain.

Reference book section, home to art, graphic books and a music studio too
Reference book section, home to art, graphic books and a music studio too.

Going through the various lines of neatly laid shelves, kudos to the work of the library staff, you can find a diverse range of music-related books and audio-visual materials. Examples here includes books on art history, music theory, dance techniques, and cultural studies. Also, I find this curated selection reflects the library’s commitment to providing resources that inspire creativity and foster a deeper public appreciation of the arts in busy hectic Singapore.

Dance hall

Dance book section with it;s own dedicated space looking like a dance studio
Dance book section with it’s own dedicated space looking like a dance studio.

In addition to its extensive book collection, the Esplanade Library offers a dedicated gallery space devoted to dance. This quiet and intimate gallery features a wooden flooring and tall ceiling to floor glass facade. It allows for ample natural light to illuminate the book shelves within. Seating here is provided via soft cushy stools, inviting you to pause and appreciate the artistry of various dance forms.

Belly dancing anyone?
Art displays
Event area

Examples includes the grace and elegance of tango to the energy and rhythm of ballroom and the fluidity of belly dancing. The dance gallery celebrates the diverse expressions of this captivating art form. To think of it, the hall here is probably large enough to do a dance in.

Music collection

As you venture further into the library, rows upon rows of drawer shelves caught my attention. These shelves houses an extensive collection of CDs, offering a treasure trove of musical experiences. From classical symphonies to jazz ensembles, rock anthems to world music, the library catered to a wide range of tastes and preferences. You can select CDs of their choice and listen to them on the library’s CD players. It allows for an immersive and educational experience as they explored different musical compositions and performances.

CD collection
Book loan section
DVD collection

Musical scores also occupy a prominent place within the library’s collection. From classical masterpieces to contemporary compositions, the shelves housed a vast array of sheet music from renowned musicians and composers around the world. Aspiring musicians and seasoned performers could find inspiration and guidance within these scores. It enables you to study and learn from the works of distinguished artists. Furthermore, the library offered books that explored the discography of celebrated musicians and artists. It provides for valuable insights into their creative processes and contributions to the arts.

Music recording studio in a library!

Also, while booking reading and facility rooms were common features in Singapore NLB libraries, the Esplanade Library has facilities not common space in libraries known for quietness- by providing a musical instrument recording studio. This peculiar yet unique offering allows any visitor musicians to book the studio for music creation.

Music recording studio as one of the facilities you can book in the Esplanade library
Music recording studio as one of the facilities you can book in the Esplanade library.

During my visit, the studios are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, soundproofing and even instruments. The studio offers a private and professional space for musicians to experiment, practice, and record their compositions. I find this inclusion reflected the library’s dedication to nurture and support artistic endeavours of its patrons beyond traditional library services.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, the Esplanade Library has served as a haven for artists, musicians, and performing arts enthusiasts for over two decades. Its specialized focus, tranquil atmosphere, and stunning views have made it a unique and cherished resource in Singapore’s cultural landscape. As the library prepares to close its doors end of this June, it leaves behind a legacy of fostering artistic appreciation and exploration.

The Esplanade Library will be remembered as a gem that enriched the lives of those who sought solace, inspiration, and knowledge within its walls. Its contribution to the vibrant arts community here at Marina Bay will not be forgotten, and it will be greatly missed by all who experienced its unique offerings.


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