Singaporeans share fond memories of the Esplanade library after news of its closure on June 30

Photo: library@esplanade
Photo: library@esplanade

After more than 10 years of operation, the library@esplanade will close on June 30 this year. 

The public library is the only one dedicated to the performing arts in Singapore and has a vast collection of resources from across different art disciplines like music, film, and theatre that visitors can borrow.

The collection will be moved to the National Library building in nearby Bras Basah after the library’s closure. 

According the the National Library Board (NLB), the move will allow the centralization of art resources in the CIvic District, which has a a number of institutions that are home to arts practitioners such as School of the Arts Singapore, Singapore Management University and University of the Arts Singapore.

Esplanade will be converting the space into arts and commercial units, including an office space for the Singapore Symphony Group, which manages the orchestra. 

News of the closure came as surprise to some who had many fond memories of the library. 

Speaking to Coconuts, many of them shared their romantic, nostalgic and even educational moments with us. 

Shahirah Ansari, a writer said, “I used to go on dates with my then-boyfriend-now-husband at Esplanade library. He was so uncultured and I’d force him to watch European movies with me in the screening room. He’d never seen Amelie for example!!!”

Former teacher Oniatta Effendi said, “As a drama educator, I worked with the resources there and it was a lovely space that reminds me of my role in the arts, aptly nestled in the Esplanade itself.”

But on a more personal note, she also shared that the music room was where her husband proposed to her. “It was a place that held our love for music, scores and all,” she added. 

Copywriter Benedicta Foo also feels affected by the closure and said that she will always remember borrowing CDs by indie bands to rip for her personal listening because shopping for non-mainstream music was difficult back in the day. Today she still listens to some of those tracks because they’re not available on Spotify. 

The library was also a special and safe space for budding musicians in Singapore, as concertgoer and musician Illya Natesa recalls. 

“I remember doing my readings for school here while waiting for inbetween sets for Baybeats or Mosaic. When the Singapore Art Cafe was connected to it, I played my first open mic when I was 14 there,” she shared.

The unparalleled views and natural light coming through the library made it the perfect place to read – and also meet other book lovers. 

Saiful Sari, an artist liaison officer at the Esplanade, told us, “My fondest memories involved books – being involved in an open discussion at a talk organized by the library, authors doing readings there and even studying with my classmates during my poly days.” 

“I have this favourite spot in the corner with the best views of the skyscrapers across the river and how the lighting hits in the evening. It was a beauty.”

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