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Instant Books

Word has it that a book lending and returning machine has landed on campus, and will be ready for use very soon.

I was inspired to surf the Internet for book dispensing machines, and I found two really cool ones.

Monkey’s Paw bookshop at Toronto has a Biblio-Mat machine that dispenses old and curious titles for a mere 2 Canadian dollars.

Bookseller Stephen Fowler was musing about putting his assistant into a box to dispense books when somebody drops a coin, but animator Craig Small decided to convert an old metal locker into a vending machine for the books. Read more about the Biblio-Mat here and watch the video below:



In the library world, Fullerton Public Library has stocked a vending machine with a capacity for 500 bestsellers. Those with library cards and no outstanding fines can choose from the titles that are currently visible on the racks.

Dubbed the FPL Station due to its proximity to the Fullerton train station, this machine offers access to books 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Bibliophiles with no time to visit a brick and motar library, rejoice! Find out more about the FPL Station here.



NUS  Libraries’ own machine is already on campus, has anyone noticed it yet? We’ll write more about that later!


NUS Medical Library’s 3D interactive map is now online.

The 3D Interactive Map is a virtual reality model of the Medical Library. Using 3D technology, it showcases detailed landmarks in different sections of the library, complete with descriptive information and photo images. Visitors can have a real-time experience of exploring the libraries using the interactive features of the map.

Here are some features of the map:

  • Self-navigation using the vantage point of either aerial view or ground view
  • Browsing of landmarks from the landmark directory
  • Landmark search function
  • Ability to select landmarks for a customised virtual tour
  • Availability as an app on App Store for iPads

For details about the 3D map, such as the getting started guide and system requirements, please access our NUS Libraries 3D Tour page.

For feedback and assistance with the map, please email Medical Library at mdlib@nus.edu.sg.

Lee Seok Hong
Medical Library 


Calling all Peanuts fans! “Snoopy Features as the Legal Beagle” is now available in the C J Koh Law Library (call no. PN6727 Schu.Sn 2000). This classic comic book is another offering by one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, Charles M. Shultz (1922-2000).

“Isn’t this book meant only for the shelves in a children’s library?” you ask. Peanuts is an all-time favourite and will always appeal to the child in us. But while children get to enjoy the funny drawings and delightful fantasy of Snoopy, adults can lose themselves in the unflinching emotional honesty, sarcastic humour and artistic depth of the comics. As in Shultz’s other works, the contrast between Snoopy’s existence in a dream world and Charlie Brown’s in the real world, which is central to the humour and philosophy of Peanuts, is played out in this series of comic strips.

In this book, the children hire Snoopy as an attorney to resolve disputes with the principal, student council, school library, etc. As his alter ego, Charlie Brown’s pet dog dons a bow-tie and fantasises about being a “world famous attorney”. He randomly spouts legal maxims in response to the children’s concerns but in reality, never solves their problems. For instance, he is involved in several unsuccessful battles for Peppermint Patty with her school. Snoopy often digresses from the issues at hand and is often more preoccupied with thoughts about “John Doe” and “Richard Doe”.

So, make a date with the Legal Beagle and be delightfully entertained by the antics and musings of this well-loved cartoon character.

Lee Su Lin
CJ Koh Law Library

FindMore@NUSL was launched on 12 Dec 2012 and has seen over 340 thousand visits and 1.1 million searches. We have received numerous feedback and are continually improving the system.

Some improvements which we have made include:

  • Adding of new materials, including open-access e-journals and e-book packages
  • More accurate display of content types, especially for e-books
  • Various small tweaks to the interface for usability, such as clarifying of confusing terms
  • Setting up of database and “best bets” recommendations

Some users have suggested that the relevancy ranking can be improved, and this is something we are working on. In the meantime, the statistics we have gathered show that the Book/eBook filter at the results page is used very often. Hence, we have added new radio buttons below the search box:

This helps to save time, as you can now pre-filter the results to only Books or Articles if that is the material type which you need. Of course, you can always use the default “Everything” option.

You can further filter the results by author, as shown at the bottom left corner of the screencapture below:

While this tweak helps, it does not resolve all relevancy ranking issues. You may want to try the recommendations that may appear for better results:

We are planning to release the next major update, FindMore@NUSL version 2.0, in July/August 2013. This upgrade will improve the user interface with the grouping and spotlighting of similar materials such as newspapers articles or reference works. Moreover, the automatic query expansion feature will further improve relevancy ranking by automatically searching for synonyms when appropriate. For example when you search for “heart attack” it will also search for the technical term, Myocardial infarction.

Do continue to let us know your thoughts about FindMore@NUSL as we work to improve it further.

Aaron Tay
FindMore Support Team 

Professor E. P. Ellinger is a Professor Emeritus of the National University of Singapore. In April, C J Koh Law Library put up a display of works by Prof. Ellinger to commemorate his many years of teaching at the NUS Faculty of Law.

Peter Ellinger was born in Vienna, Austria to a Jewish family on 25th April 1933. The family eventually settled in Tel Aviv where he graduated in 1959 with an M. Jur. Degree from Hebrew University (Jerusalem). He started work at the Faculty of Law in Singapore in 1961 and in 1963, he married a Singaporean Chinese lady who was a school teacher.

Prof. Ellinger obtained his doctorate from St. Catherine’s College of Oxford in 1964. His thesis formed the basis of the book Documentary Letter of Credit: A Comparative Study, which was published in 1970 and established Prof. Ellinger’s reputation as a leading scholar in banking law.

He has published a number of books on the subject, including Modern Banking Law (Oxford university Press), The Law and Practice of Documentary Letters of Credit (with Dora Neo) and chapters in Benjamin’s Sales of Goods and Chitty on Contracts, as well as many articles in scholarly periodicals.

In 1967, Prof. Ellinger accepted a chair at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand where he stayed for 10 years before moving to Melbourne, Australia in 1977. In 1986 he rejoined the Faculty of Law in NUS and has remained a well-respected professor and scholar ever since.

We wish Professor Ellinger many years of good health and happiness in his retirement.


Neo, D. S. S. (2007). Biography of Peter Ellinger. In D. S. S. Neo, H. W. Tang & M. Y. M. Hor (Eds.), Lives in the Law: Essays in honor of Peter Ellinger, Koh Kheng Lian, Tan Sook Yee. Singapore: NUS, Faculty of Law: Academy Pub.

Bissy Ithack
C J Koh Law Library 

Quite frequently I see students in the library doing–how should I put this?–non-academic activities. Sleeping is the most common one, and also various online hobbies such as playing WoW (or CoH or other MMORPGs), watching videos (I actually saw a student watching the 1984 television version of the Legend of the Condor Heroes once, which made me almost weep with nostalgia), browsing Facebook and other social media websites. The one activity I have to swoop in and stop is eating, as food, including crumbs, stains and leftovers, will attract pests, not to mention introduce unpleasant odours.

While noticing all these extra-curricular activities, I sometimes wonder how students view the library nowadays. Reams of articles, surveys and data have been generated in the library science field on the perception of the library by its users, and I don’t think anyone has definitively come up with an answer. There is usually a gap between what the user of the library wants and needs, and what the library offers. Filling this gap takes resources and we may not always get it right.

The library as a physical space has become increasingly irrelevant for learning and research, as entire fields of information, such as company financials, statistics, indexes and industry data are moving online. However, the library as an entity has become increasingly important–and paradoxically more invisible–as electronic resources need to be reviewed, subscribed to, organized, and presented to users in a meaningful and accessible form. Users may see the “graceful swan”, which is easy access to information they need. Alas, they may overlook all the hard pedaling the swan needs to do under the surface.

So, while I do not worry that the library as a space is taken up by users for leisure activities, I do worry that users do not see and so hence do not value, the fact that librarians work tirelessly to obtain and proffer information that would otherwise be locked away and made available only at a prohibitive cost. So use the e-resources while you have them, students; once you graduate, all the easily accessible articles, statistics, company reports and other online information will be closed to you!

While USB chargers are a convenient way to recharge our energy draining portable devices, poor quality and inexpensive look-alike chargers may pose a fire and electrical hazard.

Recently, a student charging her phone in the Science Library noticed wisps of smoke emerging from her USB Charger. Fortunately, her immediate reaction was to turn off the mains switch.  However, her subsequent attempt to unplug the charger resulted in the case giving way, revealing a blackened interior where parts of the electronic circuits had vaporized.  The remaining half was still stuck in the socket, its exposed pins surrounded by streaks of soot. Her quick thinking had probably saved her phone and averted further danger, but how many of us are actually attentive to the state of the charger after plugging it in?

Fake chargers may be hard to distinguish from the original ones. Some are even printed with the Safety Mark label, so how then would you know if your USB charger is safe? According to Ken Shirriff, a computer programmer with Google and an electronics buff, quality comes at a price and you often get what you pay for.  Based on his tests, he cautioned against using inexpensive fake chargers. Check out his blog for a detailed analysis of twelve USB chargers.

Thus, we should avoid fake USB chargers. While they may be cheap, the risk of damaging our phones or causing a fire is very real. As Ken Shirriff puts it, “The safety issues with counterfeits are not just theoretical; when hundreds of volts short out, the results can be spectacular.”

Kenneth Lim
Science Library

On 25 April 2013, 15 excited students and staff gathered at Central Library Theatrette One. It was the prize presentation ceremony for the Library User Perception Survey Prize Draw!

The 15 winners were randomly selected from the pool of participants of the Library User Perception Survey, held from 7 to 28 March. What made the event even more exciting was everyone knew they had won something. The live draw was for them to see for themselves which prizes they were getting.

The event started off with a welcome message by Deputy University Librarian, Mrs Lee Cheng Ean, who thanked the audience for participating in the Library User Perception Survey. Next, Senior Librarian Aaron Tay shared some highlights from the survey results, including sample comments given by the participants. A write up of the survey results will be published on the Library Survey website shortly.

Finally, it was the moment everyone was waiting for! Anticipation was high as University Librarian, Ms Sylvia Yap started drawing the winners’ names from a glass bowl. The draw started from the fifteenth prize. As more names were being drawn for the prizes, those whose names had not yet been called became more excited, as they would have better chances of winning the top prizes generously sponsored by the library’s partners.

The first prize winner, Ms Sandhya Chintalapati, walked away with an Asus 7 inch tablet, while our second prize winner, Ms Mukta Bansal, won an iPad mini.

After the draw and a quick round of photo-taking, everyone enjoyed a spread of pastries, coffee and tea. Conversation flowed and new friends were made.

We thank the NUS community for participating in the 2013 Library User Perception Survey. We received a total of 6,718 responses, with a response rate of 14.3%.  Your contributions to the survey will help us perform better.  Look out for the summarized results, which will be published later at the Library Survey website.

Congratulations once again to our prize winners:

1st prize (Asus 7 inch tablet 32GB 3G):  Sandhya Chintalapati

2nd prize (iPad mini wi-fi 16GB):  Mukta Bansal

3rd prize (Nikon Coolpix S6400 digital camera):  Tan Ching Yi

4th prize (3M Polarizing light):  Benoit Mayer

5th prize (3M Polarizing light):  Zhou Yong Justin

6th prize (3M Polarizing light):  Jonas Taege

7th prize (Cooler Master power fort 6600mAh):  Elizebeth Mathai Aswathy

8th prize ($100 shopping vouchers):  Lin Xuzheng

9th prize ($100 shopping vouchers):  Tang Ka Fai

10th prize ($100 shopping vouchers):  Lin Hsiao Lei

11th prize ($100 shopping vouchers):  Wong Chun Foong Jovian

12th prize ($100 shopping vouchers):  Zhang Hong

13th prize (Wireless mouse + $50 Kinokuniya vouchers):  Yang Kaymond

14th prize (Wireless mouse + $50 Kinokuniya vouchers):  Yeo Li Xia Amanda

15th prize (Wireless mouse + $50 Kinokuniya vouchers):  Hsu Jung Pu

Library Survey 2013 Team

Vanity, Branded

I am a beauty junkie.

On a rare shopping trip with my mother, she picked up a random blusher from the display and asked me, “What does M.A.C stand for?”

I had never thought about it. Never mind that she continued asking me questions such as “Where is it from? Who invented it?” instead of directing them to the staff.

So I was pleased to find “Branded beauty: How marketing changed the way we looked” by Mark Tungate. The book is a mini encyclopedia and history chronicle of the major brands in the beauty industry. I was half-expecting a ‘textbook’ about the marketing of beauty products, but Tungate begins with an interesting overview of ancient beauty trends, which provide an insight into the industry today. Think Egyptian kohl to line the eyes, perfumed soaps in Greek and Roman baths, and hair color in the Dark Ages.

Such were the vanities of the ancient times that eventually led to the existence of brands such as L’oréal, Estee Lauder and Shiseido. Of course, it is relatively easy to scour information about these brands from the Internet, but Tungate adds a personal touch by providing many fascinating and inspiring details about the individuals behind these famous brands, including hard truths from their experiences in making their brands big. He also addresses the impact of the global beauty brands in the digital world and on men; surgical cosmetics; the rise of organic beauty; and the future of beauty.

I was instantly struck, with fascination and horror, by a quote from Helena Rubenstein in chapter one: “Some women won’t buy anything unless they can pay a lot.” You don’t have to be a beauty junkie to read this enjoyable and informative book; it could very well provide an insight on how these brands have shaped consumer perspectives the next time you walk past the beauty department.

New Law Databases

Here are two law databases that were added to our electronic resources collection recently:


eGazette gives the pdf version of the printed Singapore government gazette and goes as far back as 1998. It is updated daily and like the print gazette, it covers bills and acts supplement, the subsidiary legislation supplement, the industrial relations and trade marks supplements. 

You can also browse the free version at http://www.egazette.com.sg/Welcome.aspx which is made available for public viewing for 5 days.


Investment arbitration reporter

The coverage starts from 2008 onwards and it tracks international arbitrations between foreign investors and their host governments and analyzes key developments in the area of international investment law. Among the areas that it covers are ICC and SCC rules, environmental, energy, mining and telecoms disputes. 

Do note that access to both databases is for NUS students and staff only.

Zaleha Othman
C J Koh Law Library

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