Roving robots, kitchens and creativity at Tampines Regional Library

Written by Phil Segall

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Tampines Regional Library, Singapore, is without doubt one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the world. At its entrance patrons are greeted by roving robot book return units – machines frequently to be seen followed along their designated route around the ground floor by excitable children wowed by the spectacle! Immediately visitors can see that this is a library championing experimentation and the opportunity to learn new things.

Cylindrical shelving at Tampines Library
Cylindrical shelving at Tampines Library

Each of the library’s floors is aimed at inspiring a different age group and no stone has been left unturned. Books for kids are shelved with their covers facing outwards, as one example, so young readers can search for items appealing to them more easily. The library includes a culinary studio where locals can attend cooking classes and borrow recipe books. It also hosts a PIXEL Labs workshop1 area, similar to a Makerspace, complete with both tech and non-tech equipment, tools and hardware kits aimed at youths who want to get creative.

Tampines Library Culinary Studio
Tampines culinary studio

A reading nook at Tampines Library
A reading nook

The library also has a major focus on activity and exercise. It sits in a corner of Tampines Rovers Football Club’s stadium which can be seen in its full glory from some of the library’s windows and there is even a 700 meter running track on the roof! Tampines was one of five libraries nominated for the Public Library of the Year Award2 which was presented at IFLA’s World Library and Information Congress 2018 and it is easy to see why.

View from the Library looking out towards Tampines Rovers Football Club
View from the Library looking out towards Tampines Rovers Football Club

For library spotters looking further afield in Singapore, the National Library Board offers a wealth of creatively-designed spaces. Singapore’s “boutique” libraries – Library@Orchard and Library@Esplanade – are just two beautiful examples which have been carefully crafted with the specific interests and needs of their local communities in mind. Library@Orchard welcomes some 1.4 million+ visitors per year whilst Library@Esplanade has a focus on performing arts meaning there is always something fun and imaginative happening there!



  1. Infocomm Media Development Authority (2018) PIXEL Labs@NLB [online] Available at:[Accessed 28 Dec. 2018].
  2. The New Publishing Standard (2018) Shortlist of 5 announced for World’s Best New Library – The New Publishing Standard. [online] Available at:[Accessed 28 Dec. 2018]

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