DATE : 11Oct 2011 (Tuesday)  TIME: 10.00-12.45pm

I visited Temasek Polytechnic on the 11th Oct 2011 (Tues) and had an enriching sharing given by Ms Terri Ho Mui Huay, Manager of the Reference & Information Services of the TP Library. Was also welcomed by the Library Director, Ms Esther Ong and deputy director Mrs Puspa Yeow

Goals & Users
The Temasek Polytechnic Library primarily serves about 15,000 polytechnic students from the age of 17 to 19 years spread among 6 schools within the campus namely the schools of Applied Science, Business, Design, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Informatics and IT. Besides ‘O’ level school leavers, the polytechnic library also caters to a growing number of matured students who pursue part-time diploma courses in the evenings.   The library exists to cater to students’ learning needs such as provision of information resources, provision of services such as teaching of information research skills and provision of facilities such as project rooms, conducive learning and research environment. (See powerpoint slides of the library facilities below).  Aside from students, the library also serves the faculty and staff of the polytechnic by helping to build a collection of learning and teaching resources closely tied to the respective subject curriculum. Other services include inter-library loan and document delivery services.

The Collection
The main focus of the library’s collection revolves around supporting the subject curriculum of the various schools. The main subject areas are  ICT, Engineering, Business, Marketing, Finance, Para legal, Communications, Media, Hospitality, Applied Science, Design, Social Science and the Humanities.The library has a collection development policy crafted by a team of librarians.  Regular acquisition, weeding and collection maintenance helped to ensure that the library collection remains ‘fresh’. The importance of the collection being current and relevant is one of the key reasons for regular weeding in the library. Although, print resources are still important, there is a move towards acquiring more e-Resources such as eBooks, eJournal, eDatabases, eNewspapers and eMedia as such resources has the advantage of being available 24/7. This is also to cater to the Netgeneration users who prefer online resources that are more accessible. The library also sees the need to make resources ‘discoverable’ and accessible to the end users.

The library is managed by a team of about 20 staff members attached to various departments. The staff comprise professional librarians, IT specialists and para professionals. Interesting to note that librarians are highly encouraged to acquire various library specialist skills from acquisition, cataloguing, reference and information services by joining various departments. Campus wide, all staff are required to clock at least a 100 hours of professional training or development courses. As the library needs to be opened till about 9.00pm and also on Saturdays, library staff are rostered to work on shift duties.
Reference Service
         Various forms of reference services are provided ranging from simple information counter reference service at the point of need such as provision of simple directional guide to the more advanced reference service such as provision of research advisory service to students. Most reference service are via face-to-face context. This is followed by email or phone query. Use of Blogs, FaceBook and  Tweets to provide reference help are not as popular yet.

User-education and Instructional Training
User education –in class or library workshops of 1-2 hrs are usually carried out during orientation period. Specialised guidance is also provided by the librarians to the student groups on the following topics:


  • keywords, Booleans and other research strategies
  • relevant database selection
  • evaluating the information found
  • citing the references according to either the American Psychological Association APA) or Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) citation styles.

Research Skills Workshops.
The librarians develop and conduct basic and customised research skills (or information literacy) workshops for both students and staff. These may include one or a combination of online tutorials, practical workshop sessions, and classroom teaching.Online assessments are also included to test the application of learning from the tutorial. Workshops focusing on specific online databases are available based on request. The library relies heavily on the internet for most of its operations.

Network & IT Infrastructure
               From 1992 to 2002 the library used Dynix  Automation System but  it was replaced by Aleph 500 provided by ExLibris. Aleph was chosen because of its Federated Search features which allows a user to search the catalogue and other databases at the same time.
The library like the other parts of the campus relies heavily on the Campus network infrastructure which provides wireless and wired networks to connect to the various stakeholders. The library depends very heavily on the school network infrastructure for the bulk of its work. The library portal provides critical  information such as catalogue, eDatabases, blogs and announcements of events/activities, write up of new books etc. The use of Internet and Web 2.0 tools have certainly increased its reach to the various stakeholders.


One key and interesting takeaway from the TP library visit is their attempt to reach out to their stakeholders (students, faculty members and staff) through the use of smartphone mobile app. Through the TP Library mobile app designed for iPhone and iPad, users will be able to access various library resources and services such as  OPAC search functions, renew loans and make loan reservations, access to eResources, videos, past year exam papers, guide on citing resources, library announcements, news and opening hours. Another interesting feature of the app is the interactive floor plan of the 11-storey library building created to help users locate resources and services.

A similar phone application meant for android phones have also recently been designed to cater to non iPhone users. With regard to the use of smartphones in promoting library resources, it can be clearly seen that the  polytechnics in Singapore are much more advanced and progressive compared other academic libraries and information agencies.