All posts by Maggie Yin

Writing Up a Storm for Chinese New Year

The NUS Libraries got off to an auspicious start to the Year of the Ox on 22 January 2009 where a group of students from the NUS Chinese Society clustered outside Theatrette 2 for a fun but no less intense 3 hour session on writing 春联 or couplets for the lunar New Year.

In its 2nd year, the event, organized jointly by the Chinese Library and NUS Chinese Society had such a successful run last year that the organizers decided to repeat it this year. However, the organizers did not expect such an overwhelming response this year and were pleasantly surprised by the sheer number of requests for couplets from staff and students. It got to such a stage where Chinese Library staff was seen scrambling for scraps of paper in a bid to fulfill the list of never ending requests.

While observing the entire proceedings, I suspect the main reason for the sheer number of requests was that people were tired of hearing or reading bad news on the media nowadays. Hardly a day goes by where one expert or a government official would be expounding on the dire economic forecasts, job losses, retrenchments, recession and other gloomy predictions. 春联, which essentially involves a couplet written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style one can muster and used as Chinese New Year decorations are seen as messages of hope, fulfillment and happiness for the new year. And in the worst of times, one certainly needs an uplifting message.

It was also heartening to see this message of hope extended to the non-Chinese community. One Malay staff who was seen with 2 pairs of couplets said that she intends to give them to her Chinese neighbours as wishes for the New Year. In a war-weary world torn by inter-ethnic strife and conflict, acts like this are becoming increasingly less common.

Kudos goes to all the students involved in writing the couplets. Their sheer youthful energy, enthusiasm and dedication brought smiles and cheers to everyone in the library!

Click here to view the couplet writing demonstration

Handbooks in Economics Available Online

Now that the exams are drawing to a close, it’s a good time for industrious Economics students to get a head start on their honours year thesis or Independent study module by doing a bit of reading.

But where do you begin? Say you are intrigued by the endowment effect in behavioural/experimental economics or perhaps you want to investigate the even trendier field on the “Economics of happiness”, what is the most efficient way to get a broad overview of the area? Ideally, you would want to be able to quickly identify which papers are seminal papers that everyone cites, as well as sample papers representative of the types of research being done in each sub-field.

One way of course is to do a database search of EconLit or Scopus etc. You can usually identify seminal papers with modern databases like Scopus by finding the most cited papers.

But besides the obvious seminal papers, how do you figure out in broad strokes the research trends? Without some kind of survey or guide, you will have to read a lot of papers before you start getting a sense of the general research direction so far.

You could try to hunt for a paper that does a literature review survey of a specific area (often called a “survey paper” or a “review paper”). These papers don’t present original results but summaries and sometimes synthesizes existing work. They usually compare and  contrast various papers, putting each article into context compared to the general body of work  This is of course pure gold for someone who is just starting off in the field and wants to get a quick overview of the research area.

Though there are search techniques that one can use to find them, it isn’t always easy to find them.

Wouldn’t it be nice, if there was a series of books that produced such survey articles? Actually in Economics one can actually find them in the book series Handbooks in Economics.

These handbooks “provides self-contained surveys of the current state of art of a branch of Economics in the form of chapters prepared by leading specialists on various aspects of this branch of Economics”. This book series by Elsevier is edited by Nobel prize winner Kenneth J. Arrow and currently has 28 different handbooks titles covering areas from the Agricultural economics to Urban Economics.

Somewhat confusingly while the whole book series is titled “Handbooks in Economics”, each individual book bears the title “Handbook of X” where X is an Economics subfield (e.g. Econometrics, tc.). For instance volume 28 of the series Handbooks in Economics has the title “Handbook of experiment economics”.

Besides hardcopies, we have recently subscribed to the full-text electronic versions of this series through ScienceDirect to enable quick and more convenient access to you.

Each handbook has multiple volumes and is updated to reflect new developments. For instance the Handbook of Econometrics currently runs to 6 volumes.

If you want to be informed of new volumes in say Handbook of Econometrics, you can register (free) and then select “Alert about new book volumes”.

To search for a specific handbook you can try searching LINC or ScienceDirect using the search phrase “handbook of X”, where X is the area you are interested in. You can also find a full list of handbooks available here.

Of course, this is just a start, as many of the titles are by necessity broader than the area you will probably be working on. But hopefully, I have given you a hint on where to begin. Happy reading!

Aaron Tay
Central Library

NUS Central Library in 3D

There’s now a cooler way to explore and discover the Central Library. The 3D library tour using Google Earth technology was launched on 8 August 2008 with the aim of helping users to find their way around the Central Library, the largest of the NUS Libraries. All you need is to download the free Google Earth plugin, currently available for Windows users only.

The 3D Interactive map not only showcases the Central Library’s facilities and collections in a visually pleasing way, it also helps users and visitors familiarise themselves with the layout and organisation of Central Library, all at their own pace and time. And for those who aren’t, two customised tours have been created. There’s an orientation tour, designed for new undergraduates to discover the vast amount of resources and the services at their disposal, and a “quickie” tour for those in a hurry! In both tours, additional information is given about a landmark only when you click on the icon on top of the site, or when you do a search for a place in the library using the search box in the right column.

Still under development is the 3D Book Search feature. When completed, you’ll be able to do a call number search, and the tool will proceed to locate your book right to the exact shelf.

Since its launch, more than 3,200 visits have been recorded. Overseas visits came from 24 countries, namely the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, China  and Thailand just to name a few. Frank Taylor, author of Google Earth Blog reviewed our new site in early October had this to say “A real 3D tour of the inside of a building is pretty slick!” So check out this cool addition at our portal and have fun!

Thavamani Prem Kumar
Central Library

Compliments – Nov 2008

I am writing to extend my appreciation to your staff in the Central Library who were accomodating and responded to my needs with trust and professionalism…my trip to the library was worthwhile as I could borrow the books that I need, and the warmth and care displayed by Central Library staff are still felt today, as when I was an NUS student in the late 90s. I’m proud to be an NUS Alumni and NUS library has the best resouce collection even until today.

Dayang Istiaisyah
Corporate member, Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS)

…I feel that the library services, especially the electronic access possibikities are absolutely outstanding internationally,

Dr Christian Kurtsiefer
Department of Physics

…The librarians [at Chinese Library] are all very enthusiastic. Thank you very much! 收到您的电邮,很感动。我们中文系的老师和图书馆理员都很热心。谢谢您。

Undergraduate student, FASS

Law Librarians Support the Moots

A high point of a student’s life in NUS law school is to be selected for an international mooting competition (see ).  The moots have produced some of the more famous names in the Singapore legal landscape such as Senior Counsel Davinder Singh and Judge of Appeal Justice V K Rajah. 

This year, librarians from the C J Koh Law Library were formally invited to share their information research skills with the various moots teams as participants prepare for their Submission of Memorials. To see an example of how intense the competition calendar is, take a look at the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition at

With each moot team having its own unique research needs, library tutorials have to concentrate on the topic at hand.  For instance, for the Space Moots team’s cross-disciplinary topic on the militarization of space,  librarians demonstrated the effective use of index and full-text databases such as the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, Legal Trac, Hein Online and JSTOR.  Even in the search for newspaper articles in Factiva, it was a specialized search by subject source for the Jessup Moots team’s topic on the International Court of Justice. 

“…  As you can see from the emails below, they found the session extremely useful.  This is a fantastic initiative.  Thank you so much.”

Asst. Prof. Lim Lei Theng

Coach, Space Moots Team


“The fact that they took the trouble to compare the scope of each of the websites that they were taking us th(r)ough, helps us cover maximum ground while preventing duplication of labour. I think we are especially grateful for the techniques on tracking search terms and results.  Please let them know how grateful we were for their patience and their thoughtfulness throughout (especially for having tailored the entire sesssion specifically for us and sending us notes in case we missed out on anything).”

Kirtan Prasad

Team Member, Space Moots Team

With NUS Faculty of Law’s track record in international mooting competitions – it still holds the record as the law school with the most number of victories at the world’s most prestigious Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Competition (see NUS Law Students Chalk Up Wins at Prestigious International Mooting Competitions at,  the law librarians are very pleased to be part of the moots teams’ exciting research journeys and wish them the very best in the competitions.

Annie Lim
C J Koh Law Library

Installing NUS Libraries Proxy Bookmarklet

When you receive email alerts from databases or journal publishers, you may wish to download the full-text article at the click of a button. Similarly, you may find yourself on a website that appears to let you download an article, but when you click on the link, you have to pay for access.

Instead of checking the availability of the required title via the Library portal, try installing the Proxy Bookmarklet tool on your computer. This button will allow you to instantly access the NUS Libraries subscribed titles without leaving your webpage. You will have immediate access to the full-text journal articles that you need.

What is a Proxy Bookmarklet?
It is a bookmark that automatically adds the NUS Libraries proxy to the URL links obtained from external databases. Once you click on the Proxy Bookmarklet, you are able to retrieve the full-texts of resources licensed for use by NUS staff and students.

Instructions on how to install and use
To access full-text (via library proxy) from links obtained from external websites, go to

To access full-text (via library proxy) from links in your email alerts, go to

If you need additional information on configuration, go to NUS Library Portal>FAQ>Digital Resources. The first section “Accessing e-resources” contains all FAQ pertaining to the proxy bookmarklet.

Hayati Abdul
Central Library

A tribute to donors to NUS Libraries

NUS Libraries has received notable gifts and donations from private donors in recent years. Donations ranging from $500 to $5 million have been primarily used to purchase books, build special collections and renovate a library. We greatly appreciate these opportunities as a large portion of our annual operating budget is spent on subscription to current and ongoing resources.

Special collections of historical or research value are particularly precious to NUS Libraries because not only do they benefit scholars and researchers, the knowledge produced and communicated by the scholarly community ultimately benefits society.

We are delighted to announce that we used donated funds to complete our acquisition of the outstanding Siku Quanshu series and in early 2008,for the digitization project of Lat Pau.

Siku Quanshu (库全书) [Complete Library in Four Branches of Literature] is indisputably the single largest collection of Chinese classics in the world. With deep appreciation to the family of Mr Wan Boo Sow (雲茂潮先生), NUS Libraries is now one of the few libraries outside China and Taiwan to own the complete Siku series. This important East Asian Studies resource is now easily available to scholars and researchers within Southeast Asia.

Lat Pau (叻报) is the longest-running Chinese newspaper during pre-war Singapore. Regrettably, the earliest issues of Lat Pau are lost and now the issues extant at the NUS Chinese Library cover only the period from August 19, 1887 to March 31, 1932. The Library hopes the digitization project will preserve and further extend access to this invaluable pre-war resource for Singapore and Chinese Overseas research. Funding of the Lat Pau digitization project was sponsored by the family of Mrs Wang-Chen Hsiu Chin (陈秀女士) in memory of her.

Special print collections gifted to the Library are acknowledged with book plates bearing the names of the donors.

The significant endowment of over $5 million from the late Mr Koh Choon Joo, with a matching grant from the government, to name the Law Library has enabled us to upgrade the library building to house Singapore’s premier law research collection under suitable conditions, as well as provide the essential network facilities and environment conducive for research and study. A plaque was installed prominently at the entrance and driveway to perpetuate the name of our generous donor.

Smaller contributions, starting from $500 can be made through a new scheme, initiated by an NUS Alumnus, which is tailored for purchase of specific subjects of library resources (print and electronic). For more information, please visit our online donor gallery at and click on “NUS Libraries’ Needs”.

The Family of Mr Wan Boo Sow
The Wan Family has generously donated over S$100,000 to NUS Libraries, specifically for Chinese Library to acquire Chinese materials.  The Wan Family’s connection with NUS Libraries can be traced back in mid-1990s, where they donated some collection to Chinese Library. Since 1996, the Wan Family has been making generous yearly donations of S$10,000 to Chinese Library. This year, they made a new fresh gift pledge of S$150,000 to Chinese Library over the next ten years.

The Chinese Library has been using donations from the Wan Family for the acquisition of several important voluminous works. Notable among these are: Continuation of Sikuquanshu, Siku Banned Titles Series, Siku Excluded Titles Series, Collection of Local Gazettes of Hainan Province, Collection of Literary Works of Hainan Prominent Scholars, Biographies sources in Local gazettes from Huabei Region, Complete Works of Song dynasty and The Rare Books of Song Dynasty. These acquisitions have considerably enriched the Library’s resources and proven a great boon to researchers.

Mrs Wang-Chen Hsiu Chin
NUS Libraries received a $30,000 gift from the family of Mrs Wang-Chen Hsiu Chin (1922-1983), in support of its efforts to digitize its collection of Lat Pau (叻报), the longest running Chinese daily in pre-war Singapore.
The gift is in honour of the late Mrs Wang-Chen Hsiu Chin who was the University Librarian of the former University of Singapore, the predecessor institution of NUS. Mrs Wang joined the library in 1955 and retired as the head of the library in 1978.  She obtained both her MA in Political Science and Master of Librarianship from the University of Washington in Seattle. Prior to that, she had worked with a leading local Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau as a journalist and as the head of its resource centre.

The Straits Times, in reporting her passing in 1983, described Mrs Wang as “the woman who helped build the then University of Singapore’s library into one of the best in this region.” (S.T. 11.5.1983) Mrs Lee-Wang Cheng Yeng, daughter of Mrs Wang says: “This gift, made on the 25th anniversary of my mother’s earthly departure, is a tribute to a remarkable woman known for her professionalism, dedication and indomitable spirit. It is appropriate to celebrate her life and contributions by giving back to the library she had loved and served so well.” 

Lee Cheng Ean/Winnifred Wong/Maggie Yin, Central Library
Sim Chuin Peng, Chinese Library

EndNote X2 Bibliographic Management Tool is now available!

NUS students and staff can now organize their reference citations through a bibliographic management software instead of typing them out manually. EndNote X2®, a product of Thomson-Reuters, is a software that:
1) Stores and organizes citations found from many sources
2) Inserts these citations into a Word document with the click of a button
3) Automatically formats the references according to a predefined citation style

How to Access EndNote X2
EndNote X2 is now available for download and install via NUS Software Catalogue. Before installing the Software Catalogue, users are advised to bring their laptops to Computer Centre for configuration. The Software Catalogue  Client 1.2 can be installed at

How to use EndNote X2
For a basic step=by-step guide, please see the NUS Libraries LION at For the schedule of training workshops to be conducted by Thomson-Reuters, refer to the NUS Library Portal or NUS Calendar of Events from September 2008 onwards. 

Switch from EndNote Web to EndNote X2
EndNote X2 is the desktop version of EndNote Web . EndNote Web users are encouraged to use X2 as it has better functionalities such as a faster processing speed since references are stored independent of the Web. Simply refer to the step-by-step guide in NUS Libraries LION (see above) for instructions on how to install EndNote X2.

To transfer references from EndNote Web to EndNoteX2, see

Current users who store references in EndNote Web should note that your account will expire if you do not login via NUS Libraries homepage once every 12 months.

Multiple installation of EndNote X2

The NUS Software catalogue only grants one installation per user. If you need to install EndNote X2 on your laptop in addition to your desktop station, please make a request to the softwared administrator ( for the 2nd installation. Departmental IT administrators can also apply for multiple installations. You’ll need to suppy your NUSNET id, the number of installations required and the reason for multiple installations.

If you have further enquiries, contact us at For technical support of EndNote X2, you can go directly to Thomson-Reuteurs Technical Support at

Lee Seok Hong
Medical/Science Library

Bouquets for September 2008

I wish to thank you for your help in getting this article. I am impressed with your speed of response and effectiveness.

Prof Ip Yuen Kwong, Department of Biological Sciences, complimenting our Document Delivery Service team.

Your help has been really instrumental in enabling me to complete this long and difficult article.

A/P Daniel Seng, Faculty of Law, thanking Carolyn Wee at CJ Koh Law Library.

Thank you very much for all the help you have kindly extended to me during my appointment at NUS. My research and teaching were greatly facilitated with your help.

Dr Atsushi Ohta, a historian now at Academica Sinica in Taiwan, thanking Tim Yap Fuan at Central Libary.