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Exploring the new VivoCity harbourfront library

Say howdy to the national library board newest library branch at the Library at VivoCity harbourfront. It is a public library open to all. Also, this branch comprises of mainly books moved from the Bukit Merah branch. The library is tucked on the upper third floor of the VivoCity mall, managed by Mapletree commercial. Let’s check out the new VivoCity library with a walkaround today.

The main entrance of the library @Vivocity, the National Library board's newest establishment
The main entrance of the library @Vivocity, the National Library board’s newest establishment.

A blast from the past

Notably, the idea to open libraries in malls is not new. The desire for the national library board to reach out to a larger audience with higher traffic in shopping malls.

In a walk down memory lane, notably most of the books in library @Vivocity were lifted off from Bukit Merah community library. The library move from their Bukit Merah home of 30 years to their current home right there in VivoCity was controversial. Also, this is given public dismay to close a mature library, with the Bukit Merah community losing a gem of a community library.

You could tell that the National Library Board, in their push to bring reading to the masses, defended their decision of the move. Moreover, the location right here in VivoCity mall has more potential benefits of greater library exposure for larger crowds.

Moreover, this new library replaces previous third floor tenants here in VivoCity. You might remember that there used to be a Daiso $2 store, a Time zone arcade, a Korean buffet BBQ restaurant and King Louis Western grille and bar up here.

General ambience

The entrance of the library greets you in a familiar clean style similarly seen at other mall libraries, like Orchard Gateway and Chinatown Point. From here are two entrances leading into two main library section. The right section brings you into the main library ground while the left is a dedicated children’s section.

General library shelf areas
General library shelf areas.

Notably, everything here at Vivocity is brand new. You enter the library into a common open lobby. This is where the library 24 hour book drop is. Interestingly, during operating hours you can see librarians behind a glass wall sorting various books delivered from the book drop conveyor belt. It always catches the eyes of curious children who probably always wondered what goes inside a book drop.

Front book drop with a clear wall to see your books sorted
Front book drop with a clear wall to see your books sorted.

A modern look for a modern library

Additionally, the library is themed in my opinion to a modernistic “Tron-like” theme. You have aisles of white coloured shelves with stripped trims. They are lit with LED strips on the edges. It does give it a clean, sterile yet futuristic look. The shelves are clearly labelled in English and also houses books in various languages, not limited to English.

The library theming has a modern
The library theming has a modern “Tron-like” look and feel.

Moreover, the spaces between shelves are tad tight, given how densely the shelves are placed to each other. However, this has upsides to prevent people hogging the floor space and reading books between aisles.

Interestingly, some pillars in the library are also mobile charging stations. On offer are a choice of 3-pin wall sockets as well as 5v USB outputs. I found the location of these charge points tad highly accessible. However, they are not as practical in-practice as you need to stand-by the pillar to charge your devices.

Wall charging points
Library map
More sections

Children’s section

Moving along, the children’s section is essentially a smaller version of the main sector with emphasis on children orientated books. Furthermore, a distinguishing feature is the presence of several cushioned play areas, such as matted cushion floors and a VW beetle van table activity area called the Tinker Truck.

The children play activity and reading areas
The children play activity and reading areas.

Additionally, the ambience of the new library is largely quiet, though it can get busy with many people moving about. There are plenty of open study areas in the library. The desks are open and no booking beforehand is required to use them.

Children sections
Activity areas
Children play areas

Reading Terraces

At the far end of the library is the open study and reading area. It is a large, open and airy area designed like a tiered terrace. It is similar to stadium style seating with tabled study and reading areas with a view. Also, there are about 3 rows of terraces overlooking the Sentosa boardwalk and Pulau Brani container port area. Not exactly the best of views, but still better than nothing.

The open reading terraces, overlooking large windows
The open reading terraces, overlooking large windows.

Moreover, at night, you can’t really see out of the windows given to the extensive reflections from the library interior lights. However, the library made a good choice of wooden hues for the tables, it does give the place a calming zen feel.

The open reading areas are clad in calming wood colours, overlooking Sentosa, though you can only see that in the day!
The open reading areas are clad in calming wood colours, overlooking Sentosa, though you can only see that in the day!

Furthermore, if you need a more quiet spot to read, in addition to these open reading areas are a mix of open and closed reading rooms, with the latter being quiet rooms. Additionally, the library has a quiet room with rows of tables which has quite bit of a classroom setting. I reckon the venue can be booked for function or events.

Open reading areas
Quiet rooms
Chill rooms

However, I found the VivoCity library much smaller than the Bukit Merah branch it came from. Also, there is noticeably fewer quiet rooms and estimates about half the number of floor space here than the previous venue.

Automated and volunteer run

Furthermore, the library is completely volunteer-run. You can identify the volunteers by their blue long sleeved uniforms. If you need any assistance, feel free to approach them. The volunteers are often seen sorting and arranging books around the library. Looking for a book? Also, you can use few of the many self-help book search terminal kiosks in common areas of the library to do an archive search. It will point you to the right shelf or library of interest.

Digital magazine display
Multimedia TV consoles
Self-help collection boxes

With such a lean staff manning the library, many of the facilities are self-help. There isn’t a dedicated staff counter. Notably, greeting you right near the entrance of the library are several self-help facilities. Also, such as automated book check-out and book drops which are of second nature to use. Moreover, you can pick up your book or media reservations from the self-collection boxes here at your own time.

Moreover, within the library grounds too are a number of self-access multimedia terminals and TV viewing areas. It comprises of 4 TV consoles complete with a couple seat each. They are clad in brown leather-like material and is pretty cushy and comfortable, even for long periods of sitting.

A Digital Library

Both local newspapers and various magazines are delivered and consumed digitally. This goes with the Smart Nation push of digitization. You can use the various multimedia terminals to watch videos and read digital newspapers. Also, this reduces the staffing need to manage and setup up daily newspapers. We see similar implementations in other public libraries around Singapore.

Various reading kiosks overlooking a terrace reading area
Various reading kiosks overlooking a terrace reading area.

Moreover, here, you can simply login into any of the available reading terminals using your National library board account user account for free. Also, you can also sign up for one here if need be. The main sector houses magazines, which you can access digitally as well as the standard selection of fiction and non-fiction.

Digital archives
Surfing terminals
Gadget areas

Interestingly, out of the blue, there is a tech gadget kiosk in the library aiming to arouse children’s interests in science and tech. Showcased here are robotic kits allowing you to build drones and tracked vehicles.

All in all, though the new library does not feel as large as compared to say, in the lights of other mall libraries like Orchard gateway and Chinatown point, this national library board newest library establishment is a welcome. It serves a new community to another in hopes to capture a larger reading audience. The library board efforts are paying off. Notably on my visit, pedestrian traffic is pretty heavy in the library, given its central locality in a busy shopping center.

If you are looking for a place to kill and hour or two between your meal of shopping breaks in Vivocity, the new library tucked on the top floor is not a bad place worth considering.


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