VALA 2014 Plenary 3 – Gene Tan – National Library of Singapore – Singapore Memory Project

Got us to share favourite memories of Australia with each other to demonstrate the importance of memory.

This is what the Singapore Memory Project is about.

It started with a discussion of old playgrounds in Singapore. The library’s Facebook page got 100,000 hits in 24 hours.

The project is building a library of Singapore experience. It includes traditional library materials, but also singular contributions from the long tail.

(sidebar: According to Gene, our Prime Ministers look like movie stars – Had Jodie Foster for our first female prime minister and now have Hugo Weaving.)

The project looks at different perspectives on events over time. It’s not a linear collection, but a compilation. It seeks to find the complexity of each person and their experiences. It’s messy, but that’s what they want.

“This is the first time that somebody has shown interest in my treasured memories.” (participant in the project)

Students conducted interviews of seniors. “If I didn’t do this programme, I would just pass people on the street, without knowing the layers of their life or the layers of their stories.” (student quote)

Hands – Mothers Day campaign, took hand impressions and lovely literary pieces about mothers.

As Singapore is still young, they have an amazing opportunity to save their memories.

Every Singaporean has their own permanent Memory account where they can record anything about their life. They are also recording blogs and other content created both inside and outside the country and asking people to pledge their relevant content to the project.

Started publishing graphic novels of some of the memories recorded in the project. Also have merchandise, short films and more.

Next stage is the Collective Me. “Every citizen her book.” Aim to open a public library that will be a collection of books of every citizen. Wanted to take it outside the library, so are creating No place like home – the Singapore Memory public Library in the park 2016. It will have miniatures, digital experiences and more and will be refreshed regularly.

Libraries can be more than digital, it can be emotional and tactile. How can we make that happen?

Singapore Memory Project – giving the past a present.