The Queenstown Public Library is Singapore’s first full-time branch library. It was officially opened on 30 April 1970 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to provide access to books which most people could not afford to buy and to supplement the National Library’s mobile library services. These mobile libraries used to ply along Margaret Drive and the former Queenstown Community Centre at Dawson Road.
Designed in the Modern style, the Queenstown Public Library is a two-storey building with an austere front façade relieved by a refined “bow-tie” motif along the parapets and a pre-assembled sun-shading block on its concrete frame. The building also uses glass panels generously which allow the reading rooms to be naturally lit.
The ground level of the library originally contained a book exhibition area, central foyer and large room for children, including a reference area and story-telling room. The first floor had an adult and young people’s room, including a reference area and a lecture and discussion room. The installation of air-conditioning in 1978 provided additional comfort to library users.
The library has been a sanctuary for members of the community over the years. There were several schools along Margaret Drive in the 1970s and students from the neighbourhood would visit the library for research and leisure. At the loan desks, patrons would present their library cards and staff would manually record the titles to be borrowed before filing them according to their due dates.
Following major renovation works in 2003, the library has become more user-friendly. An elevator was installed, the lighting was improved and a cafeteria was introduced. The library was gazetted for conservation in 2013.
Mdm Norsiah binte Abdul Sukor, a Senior Library Officer at Queenstown Public Library, recalled: “Throughout the years, many ex-residents have returned to the library and bought us kueh kueh even though they have shifted out of the estate. Besides being an identity marker, the library certainly holds fond memories for past and present residents”.