A Green Library for Children… right here in Singapore!
This article first appeared in the National Climate Change Secretariat’s E-Newsletter Issue 6 on its Ask Dr Green page. Original article can be found here.“My Tree House”, the world’s first green library for children, opened on 31 May 2013. A collaboration between the National Library Board (NLB) and City Developments Limited (CDL), this special library encourages children to explore, discover, and challenge themselves to learn about and care for the environment. Join us, as we find out more about this latest addition to Singapore’s green infrastructural landscape!
What is the Green Library?
The newly-revamped Children’s Section within the Central Public Library, “My Tree House” is the world’s first green library for children. “My Tree House” is named after its centrepiece, a tree house structure constructed with recyclable materials, which include over 3,000 recycled plastic bottles that made up the tree house’s canopy, collected from the public, schools, and visitors to City Square Mall.
Conceptualised, built, and operated with sustainability in mind, “My Tree House” is guided by green principles in every facet of its development and operations — from design, infrastructure, and the use of sustainable materials, to its book collection and programming. Eco-friendly building materials such as energy-efficient LED lighting, refurbished bookshelves, and carpets with green properties were used.
The library is intended to be a resource centre for children on environmental sustainability. Here, children are encouraged to learn about environmental conservation through reading, discovery, and engagement in green activities, with the aim to nurture them to be environmentally conscious adults.
How is the library’s “greenness” achieved?
CDL brought together 11 like-minded partners who actively supported the project. Being experts in their own fields, these partners such as Philips Lighting and Interface Heuga Singapore contributed through the supply of energy-efficient LED light fittings as well as the supply and installation of carpets respectively.
The LED light fittings require less maintenance and save approximately 47% in power consumption for the library. The carpets contain a high proportion of recycled material and help maintain healthy indoor air quality.
All the existing metal bookshelves from the original library were attractively refurbished using sustainable materials in shades of green and yellow to resemble trees. New bookshelves were constructed from sustainable materials like plywood and fibreboard, while ceiling and partition wallboards were made from recycled materials — all of which are Singapore Green Labelling Scheme certified. Eco-friendly low VOC paints and adhesives were used for improved indoor air quality.
The extensive use of green materials, energy-efficient fittings, and innovative teaching features were factors that won “My Tree House” the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award, the highest tier for green buildings in Singapore.
What green-themed features and programmes does “My Tree House” have?
Children visiting “My Tree House” can learn about the environment through a multisensory experience.
At the far corner of the library, children can interact with The Knowledge Tree, a shadow play wall set in an enchanted forest where a magical tree grows. An interactive question-and-answer format invites children to answer questions on environmental awareness and energy conservation, using their shadows to indicate their answer. Correct answers posed by the children will allow the forest to flourish while incorrect answers will cause it to wither.
NLB has also developed green-themed programmes with partners like NCCS, the National Environment Agency (NEA), and the National Parks Board (NParks). Visitors can look forward to weekly storytelling sessions for children ages 4 to 10, school-holiday sessions on creating artworks with recycled materials, and guided tours to gardens and nature parks.
How might these nurture an interest in the environment and climate change?
By creating an enchanting and magical green space, the library hopes to entice children to find reading and learning about the environment fun, interactive, and enjoyable.
“My Tree House” visualises the cultivation of the mind to its fullest potential in the way trees grow, taking root in a solid foundation. The imaginary roots of the tree, represented by the colour of the carpets, extend all around towards the bookshelves, which house the library’s collection of 45,000 books.
A significant 30% of these books focus on green topics such as animals, plants, nature, water resources, weather, environment, recycling, and climate change. Young users can also read green themed interactive eBooks and play educational games through interactive and child-friendly eReading kiosks.
Programmes will educate and delight children, helping them to understand nature’s different functions, grow their interest in the environment, and appreciate how human actions affect the environment and our climate. Children who complete a series of workshops, storytelling sessions, projects, or craft activities as well as borrow books from the green library will be given stamps on “passports”, and be recognised as Earth Heroes.
Do visit the world’s first green library at the Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street, today!