“Huh? What’s there to do in a library other than to read books?” Did you know you can watch films, jam, have a latte and catch free performances at the library? The library@esplanade is Singapore’s first – and very under-utilised – public library dedicated to the performing arts; namely in music, dance, theatre, and film.
With a floor area of 2,308 square meters (smaller than the new Kinokuniya), the library carries some 110,000 volumes of materials – music scores, movie screenplays, play scripts, dance notations, classical and popular CDs and video recordings of films, operas, dance performances and theatre productions. That’s amazing.
Seriously, for a public library dedicated to the arts, I’m sure they could have come up with a better name than library@esplanade, but I digress. For the parents in desperation to find (wholesome) activities to keep these little munchkins occupied during the June holidays, you might want to bring them to the library@esplanade. Here are 6 things you can do at the library to while your time away in a productive way.
1. Catch Free Performances at the Open Stage
The Open Stage is a zone specially set aside for performances, talks, workshops, exhibitions, film screenings and other outreach events. There are performances and events of all sorts taking place at the Open Stage every weekend (the library team is doing amazing work coordinating all these events week after week!). Singaporeans and foreigners are more than welcome to write in to express their interest with performing an item there. All Open Stage events are free for all and seats are also provided (on a first come first serve basis of course).
Best of all, this platform allows for the unearthing of obscure talents within our humble country. I remembered admiring a Russian pianist working her magic and belting out piano classics on the baby grand piano – a permanent fixture in the Open Stage. The performance was free but it was on the same level as a paid performance, that I can attest to. There are many interesting performances coming up happening over the next few weekends. You can keep track of the latest schedule of events at the library’s Facebook Page.
2. Watch a Film with Your Buddies
Though notably small compared to its neighbouring library (National Library Board), the library houses an impressive collection of films at its ‘Film Village’. Watch film classics like ‘Gone with the Wind’ or blast aliens with the ‘Men in Black’ and other latest films. Expect to find films that date back to the 50s all the way to films released a year or even months ago. Yes, their film archives are very updated and you can borrow them – for free!
The library is also Singapore’s only public library to possess rated (NC16 and M18) films for loan. There are also three very cozy screening rooms within the library premise for you to book – for a nominal fee of $5.50 per hour. The suggested number of people per room is four, so that’s works up to around $2.80 per person for a two hour film. Sweet.
For the serious film connoisseurs, there’s the closed archive (Asian Film Archive collection, the Arts Alive Collection, special/unreleased films and recordings and ephemera collection). Advance requests can be made to view the collection.
3. Immerse in the World of Dance
This is truly every dancers’ mecca in Singapore. Here at the ‘Dance Village’, you will find books on videos of dance classics, dance notations and every single dance-related topic you can think of. The Dance Village is conducive for just about every activity (including taking a nap) and is extremely picturesque – I don’t think you can get a bad picture from any angle. Plus, this rectangular-shaped area is fully parqueted. It reminds me of my days of practising jazz and doing across-the-floor with a dance club at the dance studio. Ah, the good ol’ days.
4. Jam or Play an Instrument
Taken with permission
Jammers rejoice. No need to load your Ipads with scores and all when you’re in the motherland of music scores. The Silent Studio uses JamHub Mixer technology to channel all sounds from various electric instruments to the musicians’ headphones so that you get to practise your craft in the heart of the city without having angry library patrons staring down at you. (Good quality) instruments are also available in the studio. The Silent Studio is available for booking at $6.50 per hour.
You can now hold your own piano recital in Singapore’s Esplanade… Well sorta. Get inspired and play something in the Piano Practice Room. The room is available for booking at $6.10 per hour.
Slots for both gets snapped up fast, so be quick.
5. Read, Drink, Love
“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” said C.S. Lewis. Let’s have both. Crumbs by Two Blur Guys at Esplanade is an offshoot of the renowned burger cafe, TwoBlurGuys. Crumbs by Two Blur Guys also serves gourmet coffee on-the-go. The cafe is readers’ favourite haunt for people watching, reading (or studying) and consuming a light meal. In fact, you can almost find the cafe fully occupied every time.
6. Or Simply, Rest
This under-utilised library is an ideal place to rest up, enjoy the air-con and recover some hitpoints before heading back to the Marina Bay area. Did you know that the library has a seating capacity for approximately 200 people? Soak into the arty atmosphere, or enjoy the Marina Bay scenery.
Near the entrance, you might have spotted the those red, old looking seats that look like they are from a different era. But those seats are actually the refurbished vintage theatre chairs from the old Capitol Theatre donated by Capitol Investment Holdings and installed in the library in early 2014. RW
The library@esplanade is located at the 3rd floor of the Esplanade.
For more information, call 6332 3255 or check out their Facebook Page.