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The National Library Board (NLB), Singapore oversees a network of 26 public libraries, the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore (NAS), and strives to inspire people to be readers for life, create learning communities and build a knowledgeable nation. Its firm commitment to customer service ensures that it works alongside its patrons and partners to co-create new service innovations and models to deliver a world-class library and archives system which is convenient and accessible. This conference paper maps NLB’s service transformation journey to achieve service excellence and to be future ready.
NLB has been at the forefront in innovating to reinvent patron experiences. To achieve this, NLB adopted a strong focus on information technology in 1997 and implemented innovative services. The first-of-its-kind Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology was deployed in 1998, allowing library patrons to self-checkout and self-return books. Innovations such as the AutoSorter system that automatically sorts returned library items into specific categories, and the Reservation Lockers which enables patrons to self-collect reserved items and make payments for library fees and fines, have ensured resource optimisation, efficiency and convenience for patrons. Patrons can explore NLB’s eResources content through the OneSearch online portal launched in 2014. The NLB mobile app also enables patrons to borrow books, download eBooks, recommend titles and pay outstanding fees. Citizens have been engaged to collaborate on projects such as NAS’s Citizen Archivist Project (launched in 2015) to transcribe archival records.
Various user-centric service models have been introduced by NLB. Co-creating libraries started in 2004 with the Verging All Teens programme at Jurong Regional Library that was created for teens by teens. It extended to the library@esplanade (2012) that engaged the arts community to conceptualise Singapore’s first performing arts library, and the library@chinatown (2013) whose panel of experts helped design it as a Chinese arts and culture library. The library@chinatown was also the first in Singapore to experiment with a self-service model fully run by volunteers.
To ensure that NLB achieves its goal of service excellence, checks are in place. These include the annual Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore, Compliments-to-Complaints Ratio, NLB’s Customer Satisfaction Index, NLB’s Mystery Customer Audit, and Public Service Division’s (PSD) Minimum Service Standard Adherence Audits. These indicators have shown that NLB’s patrons have seamlessly transitioned with the organisation on its digital and self-discovery service journey. NLB has also won numerous national and international awards for service delivery, the most recent being the 2018 Singapore Quality Award with Special Commendation. This continuous process of co-creating libraries and its services with technology as a facilitator for service innovation ensures that NLB is well-positioned to meet the needs of future generations.