Celebrating 25 years with the Heads of HSSML

HSSML celebrates its 25 years remembering the librarians who helmed the library.

The heads of HSSML, posing beside the bust of Mr Hon Sui Sen, are from left:

Mrs Lee-Wang Cheng Yeng: 1987-1991

Ms Lim Bee Lum: 1991-30 Sep 2001

Mrs Kwok-Foo Yan Chuin:  1 Oct 2001-1 Apr 2007; 1 Dec 2007-1 Jan 2009

Ms Kan Sok Cheng: 2 Apr 2007-30 Nov 2007

Ms Tan Lay Tin (current Head of HSSML): 2 Jan 2009-


TNL has had the privilege of working for and with each of these librarians. She saw how the library grew under their care. And from them too, she learnt what it means to be a librarian.

Mrs Lee-Wang Cheng Yeng, the first head of the library and her deputy, Mr Ng Kok Koon, started the library from scratch. Every single thing about HSSML before the major renovation of 2010 had a bit of them worked into it. From the layout of the space to the dove grey and baby pink color scheme. If you look closely around the library now, you can still see a little of them.

It is through Mrs Lee that TNL learnt about the intellectual value and professionalism of a true blue librarian. This grounded TNL in the midst of swirling changes to her profession.

Ms Lim Bee Lum was our longest serving head of library. Many people knew her from the days when she was head of the Circulation Dept of Central Library.

Mrs Kwok-Foo Yan Chuin who was Ms Lim’s deputy took over from Ms Lim when she retired. By then, Yan Chuin had worked closely with all her staff. Being able to communicate and empathise with them was important because it was during that time that NUS underwent major changes in leadership and management. The one thing TNL learnt from Yan Chuin was the need to listen and to truly care for those who seek help.

Ms Kan Sok Cheng took over when Yan Chuin went to head CJ Koh Law Library full time at Bukit Timah campus. Sok had worked at HSSML from Oct-Dec 1992 when Ms Lim was the head of HSSML. So it was a returning of sorts for her. Sok’s time heading HSSML was so short that the running joke was – you could not even get a baby out of it! But actually, Sok did start a “baby”. She initiated the plans to renovate HSSML.

Ms Tan Lay Tin, who took over from Sok when Sok went to head the then Medical/Science Library, carried the renovation plans through. What you see today, the expanded spaces – is Lay Tin’s contribution which marks the era of a new HSSML.

TNL remains friends with each of these ladies – individuals who have since moved on to different adventures. Each continues to inspire.

Thank you for the 25 years, ladies, and the many more to come.

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