Sunday, December 15, 2013

Molly The Mobile Library

Going to the library is one of our favourite childhood memories and believe it or not, many people, even adults, still enjoy going to the library occasionally. The library has full of knowledge thanks to its wide range of books, magazines, audio CDs, computers all for just one cheap membership fee. Now, Singapore's National Library Board (NLB), the main statutory board that takes care of public libraries has got a new trick up its sleeve to entice more people to go the library and it's called Molly The Mobile Library. In this article, let me tell you more about Molly and let me give you a virtual tour of the bus itself.

What is Molly?

Remember back then when libraries were still located in small vans and they will go around various villages (or kampungs) in Singapore for people to borrow them? Now, the NLB has brought back the concept although now, it's much more modern than the mobile libraries of the heyday. One interesting fact about Molly is the bus that's being used. Basically, it's an SBS Transit public bus that has been converted into a mobile library. Yes, that is right. A bus, the ones that you ride on almost everyday, has been transformed to a vehicle filled with books and resources for you to borrow. Bonus points if you can guess what type of bus being used as Molly.

Recognise the bus?

If you are a bus enthusiast, the bus that's being used is a Volvo B10M MKIV with Walter Alexander Strider bodywork (you'll probably know that by now). If you have no idea what I have just said, basically this bus was the one used since the late 1990s (actual revenue bus of the same type pictured above). It's quite cool to see a public bus that's filled with seats, revenue equipment and grabpoles have totally been replaced with borrowing stations, books, electronic materials and more. Now of course, the mobile library won't move and when you enter Molly, everything will look completely different than a public bus.

Entering Molly

To enter Molly, you can do so by entering through this door here. Just to let you know, entry is totally free and all you need is just your public library card. At the side of the entrance, you can see some programmes and some other news and happenings at public libraries around Singapore. Since the bus is quite old, there will be some steps for you to climb before actually entering the bus just to let you know.

The Bookdrop

Singaporeans and library regulars will definitely recognise these blue signature bookdrop box that can be found in all public libraries in Singapore. If you so happen to have any library materials with you and you want to return it without going to an actual physical library, this bookdrop is for you. Of course, you need to make sure that the Molly bus is within your reach. Anyway, this is still a good option if you happen to want to return your materials. If you have to pay some fines, inside the bus, you get to find a machine where you can actually check your account and pay the fines if you have to. If you borrow a book from Molly and you want to return it, you can do so by returning it at any public library.

Inside Molly

Once you have entered the mobile library, you get to see a wide range of books and library materials specially dedicated to children. For people who are older, not to worry, there are still plenty of materials here for you to borrow if you want to. Molly actually has some extra features as well. There are iPads right in front of the bus beside where the driver sits, which contain several electronic materials for those who are living in the digital age. Not only that, there is also a machine which you can see on the right side of the picture which allows you to check your account, pay fines and carry out some other library related stuff.

Plenty of Children's Books

Right over here, you can see plenty of books favoured by children including the kid-friendly mystery storybook, Mr Midnight. There are also plenty of books from other genres as well such as informative books along with some popular novels. Just to let you know, there may not be enough space for you to walk around Molly just like a crowded public bus. On the bright side, at least you don't have to deal with bored faces of passengers.

Library patrons enjoying their time here

Since Molly is primarily a mobile library targeted to children, there were plenty of children here enjoying their books. Of course, some adults also enjoyed their time here as well. There were even tables and chairs set up near Molly for people to read their books after they have borrowed them. Not only that, they are also for some library activities organised by the National Library Board. There was even a storytelling session by one of the Members of Parliament (MP) for the constituency where Molly was parked at. The borrowing station can be seen in the background and it's the same machine used in all the public libraries in Singapore so you won't have any trouble using it.

A collection of drawings dedicated to Molly

Children are also invited to submit their best drawings dedicated to Molly. This is a great chance for the child to show off their creativity and show their love towards the mobile library. Friendly NLB staff can also be found in the bus so if you need any help or maybe you have some questions to ask, they are there to help you. Since Molly is a mobile library, it can go anywhere. Usually, Molly can be found in HDB carparks and sometimes, shopping malls. You can check out where is the next place Molly will go to by checking out the NLB website.

Molly at Blk 139 Lorong Ah Soo

I actually happened to chance upon Molly while taking a walk around my neighbourhood. It was located beside Block 139 along Lorong Ah Soo, a street located in the neighbourhood of Hougang. Molly was only there for a few hours on that day from morning to afternoon. If you live near this place and you have missed your chance, it's okay because you can still find Molly but at another place in Singapore. All you need to do is to just check out the NLB website to have a rough idea on where Molly will go to next.


Overall, Molly the Mobile Library is a great initiative by NLB, SBS Transit and various other sponsors to encourage children to read wherever they go. It's great that they are bringing back the good old days of mobile libraries where during that time, standalone libraries were not yet available. Molly will be going around Singapore at random places so you have to know where by checking it out online.

Even if Molly isn't coming to your house anytime soon, public libraries are located almost everywhere and they can be a valuable resource. They can provide entertainment, knowledge and they can also be a fun hangout place (if you can keep the volume down). If you want to find out more about libraries, I have an article about the National Library right over here.

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