Stephanie Lauw
Associate Librarian (Children & Teens), National Library Board, Singapore

The Problem: Temporary Suspension of Library Visits by Schools
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, primary and secondary school students in Singapore regularly visited the 26 public libraries of the National Library Board (NLB) for library learning journeys. These were onsite tours conducted by librarians that introduced students to the rich collection of books, resources, and services in the library.

However, all guided visits were suspended as part of safe management measures during the pandemic. This hindered our efforts to reach students to maintain the good habit of borrowing books and visiting libraries. Recognising the continued demand from schools, NLB innovated new ways to interact with students online while bringing the libraries they love to them.

The Solution: Choose Your Library Adventure (CYLA)

What is CYLA?
It is an interactive video where viewers like you decide how the story unfolds by making a series of choices, much like the choose-your-own-adventure genre books that were popular in the 80s. The CYLA narrative takes the viewer on a quest with a magical “Guide” to save the library from being closed… FOREVER! It introduces children to various library collections and sections—all actual spaces located at two of NLB’s public libraries.

Why use the Interactive Video Format?
Inspired by Netflix’s Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, the interactive video format caters to children’s short attention spans as it actively engages them beyond the usual passive consumption of digital content. This ability to choose how the story progresses also empowers self-directed discovery and enhances the learning experience.

Through this exploration, CYLA transports these familiar physical library spaces to the digital screen, while extending its reach, beyond schools during library tours, to wider and new online audiences in the process. Weaving facts about the library within a fictional narrative changes the traditional perception of libraries to a place for discovery and fun. Check it out here.

How is CYLA doing?
Within the week of its launch on 11 October 2021, CYLA garnered over 5,000 views in total. By the end of the month, the number had reached over 45,000 and growing! Hosting CYLA on YouTube, a familiar internet platform to our young target audience, contributed to its success at appealing to the digital natives.

We also rolled CYLA out as an outreach offering to primary and secondary schools across Singapore and received encouraging feedback from educators, such as:

  •         “I really like how the library tour programme is packaged as an adventure or journey! I actually participated in that adventure too – I was hooked! Thank you for providing such engaging resources for students!”
  •         “Thank you for this wonderful effort in bringing the library to us.”

Additional resources have been created to supplement the CYLA experience. These can be found here.

Adventure checklist: A test of learning after playing CYLA. Teachers can print it as a worksheet for their students.


Booklist: Choose-your-own-adventure book and eBook recommendations, specially curated to pique children’s interest in the genre after experiencing CYLA.

What’s Next? An “In-Library Experience”!
To draw children back to the public libraries during their December 2021 school holidays, we are organising a self-guided treasure hunt activity. Clue stations around the public library’s children section depict puzzles that lead to the ‘treasure’ when solved.

Children are then invited to continue their adventure online with CYLA, check out other digital resources available, and discover other wonders of our libraries.