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Friday, September 16, 2005

Flower Arrangement

I like to explore different way of flower arrangement when I have time to spare.
To make artificial flowers look lively, I use fresh leaves to enhance the look. Here are some examples:

A “light-hearted” write-up for LAS 50th Anniversary Souvenir publication

1955 --- 2005 = 50 years = LAS (Library Association of Singapore) in History

1955 --- 1980 = 25 years = LAS’s history unknown to Dexterine

1981 --- 2005 = 25 years = Dexterine’s information path experience

Figure 1: LAS (1955 to 2005) and Dexterine’s Information Path (1981 – 2005)

As I know little about LAS before 1981, I look forward to reading other senior librarians’ write-ups to fill my knowledge gap about the first 25 years of LAS history.

If you would though like to take a glimpse into some personal experiences of Singapore Librarians after 1981, just read on and travel down memory lane with Dexterine.

You may find some simple facts and views about librarians and the state of development of librarianship and our professional association …

Q1: Why Dexterine became a librarian?

Answer 1:
Teaching was her first career prospect and Librarianship, her second. Since she could not become a teacher in the 1980s, she chose to become a librarian. To her, Librarians and teachers are all helping others to share the fruits of knowledge.

As a picture speaks a thousand words, let’s look at her first step into Librarianship: Study in Library School abroad.

Photograph in 1981: As a Student in Library School

From left to right: Dexterine Ho, Ms Hayati, a Malaysian classmate and Ms Foo Yan Chuin in College of Librarianship, University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 1981

Q2: What is Dexterine doing now?

Answer 2.1:
Teaching the “Digital Literacy Skills” course for SM2/3 group in National Institute of Education (Since 2002)[1]. “Digital Literacy Skills” covers APA writing format, Powerpoint, mind mapping using Inspirations software, Internet and database searching as well as web page writing.[2] For a librarian, she is now a teacher too, thus fortunately blending her two career dreams.

Photograph in 2005: As a Lecturer (Teaching Digital Literacy Skills) in National Institute of Education (NIE)
From left to right: A group of SM3[3] students and Dexterine Ho in NIE campus, outside Lecture Hall 1 after their graduation ceremony in June 2005.

Answer 2.2:
Teaching Library and Classroom display courses (Since 1999) for Teacher and Student Librarians in Primary and Secondary Schools through INNO HANDS-ON (A business name registered in 1999)[4]. A few Librarians have dared to discover their entrepreneurial spirit and potential as consultants & independent “business people”. Dexterine too has found new innovative pathways using her experiences and capacities in different Singapore library settings.

Q3: What was Dexterine doing between now and then?

Answer 3.1:

NIE library: 1982 --- 1996

Photograph in 1995: With NIE colleagues

From left to right: Mrs Loo-Tan Wah Enn, Ms Chew-Lim Kwee Noi, Ms Chew-Ooi Lian Ping, Dexterine Ho, Ms Lam Siew Kim, Mrs Wong-Ko Yun Chin and Ms Yvonne Yin.
Photo taken outside a restaurant in Tiong Bahru Plaza.

Photograph in 2005: With some NIE and Ex-NIE colleagues 10 years later.

From left to right: Mrs Chew-Lim Kwee Noi, Mrs Wong-Ko Yun Chin, Ms Yvonne Yin and Dexterine Ho.

Photo taken in a restaurant at Lian Seah Street on 27 Aug 2005. Library colleagues now old friends and like family after 10 years.

Dexterine started as a cataloguer, then a serials librarian and finally became a reference librarian.

She also supervised the Reader Services unit in the 1990s, yet she enjoyed the job of Information retrieval most.

Performing and imparting the skills of searching to students and lecturers usually filled her days with  joys.

Connecting to LAS in the 1980’s

After joining LAS for three years, Dexterine was elected as a council member of LAS for 1985/86.

She also served as a committee member of the LAS Interact Committee and as the secretary of the LAS Committee on Library Automation (COLA).

After teaching the LAS postgraduate course in 1986, she used her earnings from Dialog database teaching courses and upgraded her LAS membership to become a life member. To her, paying $500[5] to be a life member in 1986 was just a simple act of returning what she gained from LAS to LAS.

Being a bit absent-minded, she is also glad to have one thing less to remember each year. Converting an ordinary membership to life membership was just like purchasing a turnkey system to automate house-keeping jobs in library management.

The job of renewing her membership through annual payment was eliminated and she could enjoy attending LAS activities without the worry of paying membership fees, each year after 1986.

One Interesting event in the 1980s:

If you are like Dexterine who was absent-minded enough to lose her passport, yet fortunate enough to have it picked up by a Singapore Immigration Officer, you may have the passport returned very promptly if your occupation is “Librarian.”

In the late1980’s, Dexterine accidentally dropped her passport in Changi Airport and returned home without realising her loss. Thanks to the excellent service of a reference librarian at the National Library, the immigration officer was able to contact her within a couple of days.

Dexterine was surprised to have her passport returned as she was not aware that she had lost it in the first place.

Other library and teaching works in between then and now:

Answer 3.2: Temasek Polytechnic: 1996 --- 2000

Answer 3.3: NTU Library: 2001 – 2003

Answer 3.4: Some teaching tasks in Ngee Ann Polytechnic and National Library Board Institute.

A personal endnote from Dexterine:

It is a joy to look back through old photographs and past events that reflect 25 years of my librarianship and information path in Singapore and overseas.

As I do not like to take up too much printed space in this publication (helping to save some trees in one way or another), I would like to invite you to continue your reading at

If you would like to communicate with me, just email me at or

I hope you enjoyed reading this light-hearted write-up and are encouraged to continue your journey in sharing the fruits of knowledge through librarianship and our related professional family.


[1] Ho, Dexterine Soo Miang. (2005). “Reciprocal peer tutoring in a digital literacy skills course.” in Teaching English to Chinese ESL students: classroom practices. Edited by Kwah Poh Foong, Michael Vallance (pp 167-173). Singapore: Pearson.

[2] For more details, visit “Dexterine’s NIE teaching webpage” at

[3] SM3 students are those who have completed their third year of Senior Middle 3 high school in China. The scholars are granted scholarships by Ministry of Education, Singapore to study for their undergraduate degrees in Nanyang Technological University. They have to complete a six month Communication Skills Programme in NIE before they start their first year university course.

[4] INNO HANDS-ON stands for INNOvative HANDS-ON. Dexterine believes that with hands-on experience, one will discover innovative ways of doing information work. “INNOvative HANDS-ON, turns Innovative minds-on.” For more details, visit the web page at

[5] In 1986, the annual LAS membership fee was $40 for all professional librarians. $500 Life membership was a big commitment for most Assistant Librarians since their salaries were just a few times more than that amount.