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Press Release: A Treasure Trove of Asian Culture and Heritage

Singapore, 20 April 2012 – Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts launched the National Library Board's (NLB) Asian Children's Literature Collection at the Woodlands Regional Library. This is the first time a library will be housing a comprehensive thematic collection.

Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer, NLB, said, “The Asian Children's Literature Collection will serve a range of users like researchers with scholarly needs, teachers assembling lesson materials, parents looking for bedtime reads for their children, and the young who love fascinating tales. We can use these fairy tales, folklores and fables to help our children understand our values, beliefs and customs.”

With the inclusion of this collection, Woodlands Regional Library has about 181,000 books and other materials in the children's section. Visitors can borrow from a selection of 7,200 books including Chinese, Malay, and Tamil books.

There are another 800 books for visitors to browse within the library. This way, more visitors can benefit from these books as we only have one copy of them. Accumulated over 50 years, this collection is listed in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (UNESCO) “List of Nationally and Internationally Significant Collections”. Rare books which have been around for more than 100 years will be on display. These include first editions, out-of-print editions, as well as a handwritten edition. The handwritten edition of Princess Meera displayed in the library, is one of only ten copies in the whole world. Another rare book, Salam the Mouse-Deer, is no longer printed. Some of these books have bilingual contents too.

Woodlands Regional Library will also be organising a six-month exhibition on “Asian Cinderellas” with various interesting portrayals of the classic fairy tale. While Cinderella lost her glass slipper in the classic version, the Asian Cinderellas lost items like golden slippers, anklets and rings. There are more than 1,500 of such tales in the world. One of the earliest known Cinderella stories came from China, during the Tang Dynasty. There are also stories from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos and Persia. There is even a Hmong tribal story on Cinderella.

The library will organise more of such exhibitions to cultivate interest in reading and appreciation of Asian culture and heritage. This will be supplemented by talks on Asian literature and storytelling sessions. In conjunction with this launch, 22 other public libraries are also organising storytelling sessions for the next ten days till 30 April.

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