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NATIONAL LIBRARY BOARD - 2018 SINGAPORE QUALITY AWARD WITH SPECIAL COMMENDATION WINNER

Striving to deliver better services

NLB has used the Business Excellence framework to benchmark itself against other libraries worldwide.

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"Business Excellence is part of the National Library Board's DNA because we are always thinking of creative ways to bring the joy of reading and learning to those who use our libraries and archives. Our journey does not end here, and this award spurs us to do more to connect people and communities," says NLB CEO Elaine Ng.

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To encourage self-service among patrons, NLB has developed services such as the reservation lockers.

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It also promotes initiatives such as Senior Tech and Read for Seniors to help the elderly learn digital skills and benefit from technology.

THE National Library Board (NLB) started on its journey towards Business Excellence (BE) over 20 years ago when it was first established as a statutory board in 1995. It is the only organisation so far to have won all BE Awards, having attained the Innovation Excellence Award (2001, 2016), Singapore Quality Award (2004, 2011), People Excellence Award (2010) and Service Excellence Award (2009).

The BE framework has been instrumental in helping NLB benchmark itself against other libraries and archives worldwide, and helping it to deliver better services to patrons and the wider community. It has also supported the organisation's efforts to improve its processes and systems.

NLB oversees a network of 26 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore. Under its stewardship, around 2.4 million library members benefit from its collection of books, newspapers, magazines, multimedia resources and archival materials.

"Business Excellence is part of the National Library Board's DNA because we are always thinking of creative ways to bring the joy of reading and learning to those who use our libraries and archives. Our journey does not end here, and this award spurs us to do more to connect people and communities. With the steady support from our patrons, staff and volunteers, we will continue to do our best to improve our libraries and archives in innovative ways," said Elaine Ng, chief executive officer, NLB.

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The BE framework has also given confidence to NLB staff, volunteers and partners that they are doing good work. The organisation's network of volunteers and community partners help to run library spaces, digitise library materials, and promote reading and learning. For instance, library@chinatown is run by volunteers while the public libraries in Bukit Panjang, Tampines and Yishun have sections managed by volunteers.

Through the Community Oral History Committees, NLB also works closely with different groups in the community to build and raise awareness about Singapore's heritage and history. This follows the successful Citizen Archivist Project, which crowd-sources for the transcription of archival photos and documents.

PROMOTING INNOVATION

NLB has also used the BE framework to develop better and more innovative ways to deliver its services to patrons. For instance, to encourage self-service among patrons, the organisation developed services such as the NLB Mobile app and reservation lockers.

It also examined how it could make its processes more efficient, and tapped on technology to introduce innovations including the AutoSorter, Shelf-Reading Robot and the Mobile Bookdrop in its libraries.

The AutoSorter automatically sorts returned books, and incorporates data analytics to identify popular titles for display, while the Mobile Bookdrop and shelf-reading robot enhance the book return and shelving processes. These enable staff to channel their time to higher-value tasks such as engaging patrons to support their reading and learning.

NLB is also using technology to support Singapore's Smart Nation vision by offering programmes to equip people of all ages with relevant digital skills for the future economy. To this end, it provides facilities such as an immersive storytelling room for children and digital literacy programmes for working adults, and promotes initiatives such as Senior Tech and Read for Seniors to help the elderly learn digital skills and benefit from technology.