IFLA delegates were given a glimpse of Singaporean culture through a series of multi-ethnic, beautifully harmonised performances: a Chinese dragon dance, rhythms from an array of traditional and modern percussion, a Chinese lion dance with a welcoming message in Singapore’s four official languages and beautiful dance steps that were distinctly Chinese, Indian and Malay all at the same time.
Mrs. Elaine Ng, Chair of IFLA WLIC 2013 National committee announced that there were 3,500 delegates from 120 countries and with conference theme of the conference “Future Libraries, Infinite Possibilities”, there would certainly be many ideas flourishing as the delegates meet and discuss how libraries will continue to play a role in improving the lives of the community they serve.
Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore Minister for Communications and Information said he believed that librarians know everything. He told the audience that while Google brings us 10,000 answers, librarians bring us the right one. He also shared that Singapore’s libraries are well loved institutions; beyond promoting literacy, libraries are safe havens to read, learn and provide meeting spaces for like-minded people.
Ambassador Chan Heng Chee, the Keynote Speaker had four key takeaways: firstly, that the libraries will continue to provide access to knowledge; secondly, with a growing ageing population, libraries will play ever important roles in meeting the needs of a diverse group of seniors for life-long learning and research activities; thirdly, that libraries are places of innovation enterprise for hosting creative projects and ideas to promote entrepreneurship and economic developments; and finally, the libraries’ role in building social capital will be to be to literally create a sacred space for the community—a social bond for the populations they serve. At the close of her speech, Ambassador Chan thanked all the librarians whom she had worked with over the years, as they were true partners on all her articles and speeches prepared in the course of her career.
“Everything is so colourful and I particularly love the moment when the children were jumping excitedly on the stage, waving mini Singapore flags at us while shouting “Welcome to Singapore!”
Dr Rose B.Okiy, a university librarian from Nigeria
“It was a little tiring as we had to keep jumping while the clapping kept going on and on and the cameras kept flashing at us. I am very happy to see so many people clapping for me! I will remember this day.”
Violet Tan, an eight-year-old girl from First Toa Payoh Primary School
“I was blown away by the thumping rhythm of the drums and it signified the beginning of an adventurous journey to me. I really like the opening ceremony. Good job, Singapore!”
Ms Shivanthi Chandrika, Bank of Ceylon, Sri Lanka
The LED dragon that wowed the audience at the start of the ceremony is called the Northwest Eco LED Dragon and it is 49m long. “Northwest” refers to the region it was constructed in Singapore. It is the proud project of the members of the Bukit Panjang Community Centre Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe. The dragon is composed entirely of recycled materials and has made it to the Singapore Book of Records for its length and the recycling efforts behind the project.