The kids and I have been scouring the libraries in this fascinating city-state. So far, we’ve been to Geylang, Toah Payoh and Esplanade. We also took a peep at the PasirRis library located in a mall beside the MRT station.

If you are a book lover, you will find the public libraries here an oasis—a place where one can drink deeply from the fountain of knowledge, be mentally refreshed and reinvigorated. To me, a library (well, I refer at least to any library here) is the only prison cell I look forward to being caged in. You enter a fledgling and you leave the door an eagle, raring to flap your wings across the sea of life and towards the vast expanse of the limitless skies. Yum,yum. I practically drool over the books I missed reading when I was young— fairy tales, myths, folk tales, adventure and what-have-you. With a plethora of books and audiovisuals at your fingertips, who says homeschooling can’t be done?

This leads me to feel sorry for the deplorable state of the university library back home. Me oh, my. The library, huge as it is, houses outdated books, which I can bluntly categorize under “junks.” Why? Been going there since 1990 and sad to say, I have never been awestruck with the materials there as most date back to antiquity (what’s a 1950 edition books doing there? Better house them in a museum!). I even used to go home even more frustrated because I couldnot find the resources I was looking for. I had to travel all the way from Laguna to Diliman (where the books and references, voluminous as they were, were as old as a hermit who never knew the neon-lighted side of the mountain.) Thanks to AIM library though, their HBR (Harvard Business Review) files filled the gap.

Might there be a corelation between the lack of access to quality educational materials in libraries around the country and the poor state of education of our young (and the old? We had brilliant minds in the past—our national hero, the great JPR was a well-read and yup, well-travelled lot who sharpened his saw outside of the limited educational opportunities our tiny island could offer. Great minds are great readers. You take away the opportunity to sharpen the mind and you produce dull, arrogant and self-centered generations more adept at using their fingers with their cellphones and PSPs than their own brains.

The young ones should read, chew and digest quality books available to them. My sons love books. The 48SGD I spent for my library membership was the best investment I have made so far. Yup, no need to purchase books here. Just pay a visit to the public lib.

Wish we had the same educational facility back home.

Here are my fave quotes on books and reading:

No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.
~MaryWortleyMontagu

A man may as well expect to grow stronger by always eating as wiser by always reading. –Jeremy Collier

Books are a refuge, a sort of cloistral refuge, from the vulgarities of the actual world.
~Walter Pater

Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
Mark Twain

Let books be your dining table,
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights.
~Author Unknown

No man can be called friendless who has God and the companionship of good books. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

And oh, I almost forgot to mention.I nearly choked with tears after reading Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller. Hmmm,didn’t realize the girlish and romantic teenybop is still alive.I thought motherhood had mercilessly quashed it.

A pose after our library date in Toa Payoh