All posts by clbky

2 Girls, 1 Stranger and “A Million” Books

A very warm welcome to our new students!

Are you feeling a little lost and overwhelmed by all the new things coming your way? Fret not, the library will be bringing you two things that will cheer you up! First off, a humorous little homemade video about life as a new student and where you can get research help when you’re in the pits.

If you have trouble viewing the video, please view it here.


Second of all, the libraries are also organizing orientation sessions to help you use our abundant resources efficiently and effectively. Remember, a little investment here will be worth its weight in gold when your assignments come rolling in.

Check out the Freshmen orientation schedules for the various libraries. Do note that the libraries will close at 1pm on 6 August as the NUS President has declared it to be half day, for the Youth Olympic Games Flame Arrival Celebration.

Graduate students

Finally for new graduate students, we have exciting programs lined up for you as well! Click here to find out more.

Librarians, Aliens & Things That Go Bump at Night

Last Friday was an exciting time for us at Central Library. We cracked a 30 year-old cold case, rescued a librarian lost in a fifth dimensional alien vortex and introduced ourselves to 160 SDE freshmen, all in a matter of hours.

librarians involved in the games

Have we lost our minds? Certainly not! This elaborate set-up was simply our game station for the SDE’s Freshmen Orientation Camp games. Just for those few hours, our librarians became secret agents from the Central Library Investigation Bureau (C.L.I.B) and the freshmen were brilliant young minds called from afar to assist us with Case #1202–Mystery of the Missing Librarian.

In order to solve the mystery, the freshmen had to go to specific locations in Central Library to find some clues and through this, familiarize themselves with important places in the library. From the thunderous flapping of flip-flops all over the library to the cheers of victory when each clue was found, I believe it is safe to say that many camp-goers had a fun experience.

SDE students finding clues

On our part, we were glad to meet the freshmen and share with them about the resources, amenities and services which they have access to as NUS students. Of course, it was also important that they got to meet the SDE resource librarians whom they can approach for help with their research and coursework.

We thoroughly enjoyed the few hours and we look forward to more adventures as special agents from C.L.I.B! Check out our Flickr account for more pictures.

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon


Flowers for Algernon
Daniel Keyes
PS3561 K44F 1975 Central Library

Flowers for Algernon revolves around Charlie, a mentally disabled odd job assistant at a bakery who becomes a genius after undergoing neurosurgery. His sudden jump in IQ (from 68 to 200) is a result of an experimental procedure that has proven effective in a lab mouse and Charlie has the dubious honor of being the first human subjected to this same procedure.

His transformation is captured in a series of progress reports that he has to write as a form of therapy and these documents are studied by the scientists involved in the project. His initial jubilance is infectious. The reader rejoices with Charlie as he achieves each milestone and feels that he has scored one for all the little guys in the world.

But Keyes did not mean for this to be a fairy tale but rather a tale of caution. Woven subtly into the narrative is a darker look into how “normal” people treat the mentally disabled who cannot comprehend acts of meanness and thus protect themselves. He warns that with increased intelligence comes heightened self-awareness which may sometimes bring pain, alienation, and dissatisfaction with life, especially when this growth is not accompanied by a commensurate growth in emotional intelligence.

As human beings, we place great value on intelligence and are always looking for ways to increase that. But Keyes hints that there are perhaps other more important things in life that a high IQ cannot provide–the ability to let go of the past, contentment, and ultimately, happiness. Did Charlie come out of this a better person? Who is Algernon? Read this Hugo and Nebula award winning tale and find out for yourself.

Book Review: Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress


Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
by Dai Sijie
PQ2664 D132B 2001 Central Library

The Cultural Revolution has always simply been to me a significant and grandiose part of China’s history. The details elude me and the urge to find out more is nonexistent. I picked up a copy of Dai Sijie’s Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress because of its intriguing title and was pleasantly surprised at what an engaging read it was.

Dai introduces the reader to a Cultural Revolution that is seen from the eyes of the very people afflicted and through them, challenges us to care about people in another time and place and to appreciate the many freedoms that we enjoy.

The story revolves around the narrator and his friend, Luo, and their “re-education’ in the mountains at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Their parents, being doctors and dentists respectively, have been deemed “enemies of the people” and the boys’ hopes of ever leaving the mountain seem slim at best.

In this dreary setting where the reader fully expects to read about depressed souls and defeated minds, Dai uplifts us by detailing the little victories the boys have everyday. They outwit the villagers through the use of “technology” (i.e., an alarm clock!), they enthrall them with stories, they bribe the headman by playing dentist; you end up laughing at their antics and applauding their acts of subversion. Their grim settings are further brightened by a beautiful neighboring seamstress as well as the discovery of a suitcase of forbidden European literature.

Dai’s conclusion is however ambivalent. He clearly disapproves of and ridicules the senseless censorship of scientific and “Westernized” knowledge but he also warns of the price to be paid should the reverse be true. With knowledge comes the freedom to choose and he cautions that we will have to live with these choices, whether good or bad.

A thought-provoking and quick read; go for it!

Making Connections with the NUS Community

Oct 14 was our long awaited E-Resource Discovery Day and it was a day when almost 800 NUS students and staff learnt about our subscribed e-resources, received goodie bags, entered lucky draws, enjoyed free Milo and food and of course supported us in our fundraising book and food sales!

 Book sale

This year, we had 21 vendors exhibiting and educating students about our e-resources, a much bigger turnout compared to the 10 of last year. To encourage learning, students and staff were given quiz sheets that required them to get answers by talking to the vendors. Each completed sheet entitled them to a goodie bag and a lucky draw ticket.

 vendor and users

Feedback from both vendors and students were generally positive. Vendors felt that the level of interaction this year was definitely higher and this gave them an opportunity to share about the best way to use their products. Feedback collected from students also indicated that they found the event useful and would visit again next year. We also received many great suggestions on how we can make the event even better next year.

Fundraising Food & Book Sale

Our efforts raised a total of $2250.15 for the NUS Students’ Fund. On behalf of the needy students who will benefit from this, we thank those who donated their books to us as well as those who bought them. Without your support, this would not have been possible. A cheque of this amount was presented to the NUS Students’ Fund last Friday.

Books that did not sell will be donated to the following causes:

  • The Salvation Army
  • Schools in Bago City, Philippines (through NUS Students’ Union Volunteer Action Committee’s (NVAC) Project Big Hands, Bigger Hearts 5)
  • Project SAIL (Books to South Africa through NUS Students’ Fund)



No. of Participants

Pre Event Online Quiz 256
Event Day hands-on E-resource competition (Treasure Hunt) 19
Grand Draw entrants & Goodie Bags redeemed Approx 400
Food & Book Sale supporters Approx 400


Prize Winners

We congratulate the following staff and students who participated in our various activities and won. We also want to thank the vendors who generously supplied the gifts.



Online Quiz

1st Prize: An iPod nano 8gb Lee Zhiwei, David
2nd Prize: Buffalo 2.5 250GB Hard Drive Wong Yim Hwa
3rd Prize: An iPod Shuffle 1GB Cheng Yonggang
4th Prize: $60 Kinokuniya vouchers Dennis Puk Leung Kong
5th Prize: $40 Kinokuniya vouchers Eugene Yong Zhi Jie


Treasure Hunt

1st Prize: A Nintendo Wii Set Sivanand Somasundam
2nd Prize: An iPod nano 16gb Wong Yim Hwa
3rd Prize: Nikon Coolpix L20 Ang Soo Kuang
Consolation Hampers Mukta Bansal
Rajiv Ramnath
Dr Imelda Krisiani Tjandra
Gao Shang
Tan Li Peng


Grand Draw

1st Prize: An iPod Touch 8gb Nor Hisham Bin Mustapha
2nd Prize: An iPod nano 16gb Wang Wen
3rd Prize: An iPod nano 8gb Alex Teng
4th Prize: Buffalo 2.5” 320GB Hard Drive Chia Phai Ann
5th Prize: Zen Mozaic 4gb Pinky Rusli
6th Prize: Zen Mozaic 2gb Wong Wai Yee
7th Prize: $50 Kinokuniya Vouchers Wong Chin Hao
8th Prize: Creative EP-630 Headphones Lim Soh Keow           


To view more pictures of the event, please click here:

We look forward to another educational E-Resource Discovery Day next year and your continued support!

E-Resource Discovery Day 2009 (Oct 14th)

Get ready to:

Gain Knowledge
Our E-resource providers will be on hand to introduce you to the resources you need for studies and research. Come with questions!

Win Prizes & Redeem Goodie Bags
Online quiz: Take part in our online quiz now (1st-12th Oct) to be included in our pre-event lucky draw!

Treasure hunt: Take part in our lunchtime Treasure Hunt for a chance to win a Nintendo Wii, an iPod Nano 16 GB, or a Nikon Coolpix!

Grand draw & goodie bags: To redeem a goodie bag and grand draw ticket (prizes galore!), simply get a quiz sheet from the library booth, visit at least 3 vendors to find the answers and collect 3 stamps.

Support Needy Students
Spend wildly at our food and book fair to raise money for the NUS Students’ Fund! Books are priced to go, starting from 50 cents! So swing by, do something for the community, and get great stuff!


Check out the event website now! For more information, please contact Gerrie Kow at

Giving Back to the Community

The NUS Community, that is.

That’s what the library hopes to do through our Book & Bake Sale on E-Resource Discovery Day 2009 (Oct 14th, Wed). All proceeds from the sale go to the NUS Students’ Fund, which benefits needy students from NUS.

Want to be a part of this worthy cause? Here’s how you can help.

  1. Donate your gently used books to our book sale through our Book Donation Drive that runs from Sept 9th to Oct 7th. Collection boxes are available at all NUS Libraries.
    Note: We accept books of all levels and languages and will price them at our own discretion. Books that are unsold will be donated to The Salvation Army or other similar organizations.
  2. Be a big spender! Come by the forum on Oct 14th not only to learn about e-resources, take part in our lucky draw but also to SPEND! Buy books & food like there’s no tomorrow because it’s for a great cause!


So let’s make this happen, you and us.

Please contact Gerrie Kow at or 6516-2029 if you have questions about NUS Libraries’ Book Donation Drive.

Book Review – The Last Chinese Chef

The Last Chinese Chef
by Nicole Mones
PN3563 M742L 2008 Central Library

Pork spare ribs wrapped in lotus leaf, Beggar chicken, steamed clams and eggs, eight varieties of dumplings- after you read this book, you’ll never look at Chinese food the same way again.

In The Last Chinese Chef, Mones documents the love affair between a man and Chinese cuisine and to a lesser extent, between him and Maggie, an American food writer who came to China for a personal reason. As a way to distract herself from her painful task, she takes on the assignment of interviewing Sam Liang, an Asian-American chef who cooks in the tradition of the imperial kitchen.

Through Maggie’s interview with Sam, we learn that great Chinese cuisine often has its genesis in poetry (e.g., the Chinese poet Su Dong Bo) and art and creating great Chinese food requires forethought, patience and the very best ingredients. Chinese cuisine focuses on artifice, texture, taste, opulence;  and more often than not, seek to bring people together.  Sam rightly points out that this communal aspect of Chinese cuisine is one of the key factors that differentiate the East and the West. The former often shares food from one big plate while the latter always has their food individually plated.

Mones’ choice of looking at the process of food preparation, its philosophy and the socioeconomic factors that surround it (rather than just the finished product itself) is refreshing indeed. For Singaporeans who love to eat, this is a pertinent read that will transform your interaction with food and enhance your understanding of the cultural forces behind their creation.

Warning: Do not read this book on an empty stomach.

SDE-SOC Camp 2009

It’s that time of the year again…

When the campus is once again alive with the laughter and footfalls of new students playing orientation games, making friends and simply getting to know the environment which will be their second home for at least the next four years.

Central Library was also a hive of activity last Monday and Tuesday as the librarians played games with about 250 freshmen and seniors from SDE and SoC during their respective campus tour/games segments. The library game station was one that required patience, speed, specialized skills as well as teamwork to win and though many of the freshmen were tired out from their many previous games stations, they fought admirably on and completely the tasks quickly. There was excitement, lots of running and of course, some incredulity in the beginning as well. To quote a senior student attending the camp “What are we doing at the library? The library is actually hosting games???!! ”.

At the end of each day, we felt tired but it was a good kind of tired that comes from having done something satisfactory and worthwhile. Our message to them, I believe was clear- NUS Libraries welcomes them to this new stage of their lives and will be with them as they embark on this journey.

So freshmen (and seniors), you know where to find us!

To view more pictures, please click here:

Book Display: Little Known Singapore(Jun – Jul 2009)

Do you lament how boring Singapore seems? Do you think you know Singapore inside out? Does Singapore seem really tame and clean-cut to you? This book display aims to show you the other side of Singapore, the little known Singapore- it’s history, its various fascinating subcultures and of course, how you can stay right in Singapore and still have fun!

The topics covered in this display are:

  • Art & Architecture of Singapore
  • Landmarks & Streets of Singapore
  • The Scary, the Sexy & the Strange
  • Have A Staycation!
  • Rites & Rituals in Singapore

So come by the library and check out the display today! You just might find some really fun reads! For the full listings of books and audio-visual materials, please click on the link provided.