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Sunday, February 26, 2012

OH! Open House at Tiong Bahru: My experience today

Being a resident in Tiong Bahru since 1972, I thought I should know a lot about the estate, yet, I realised there are a lot more for me to explore today!

Joining the "OH! Open House at Tiong Bahru" this afternoon allows me to visit 6 homes, 1 temple, walk through many back lanes and view the works of 15 local and overseas artists.

For the official website of "Oh! Open House at Tiong Bahru, visit:

For photos of the artists' works, view them via:

OH! Open House at Tiong Bahru: My experience today

Today is the last day of the Open House "Occupy" Tiong Bahru.  The event started last Saturday, only run for 2 weekends (on Saturday and Sunday, 18-19 and 25-26).

It is curiosity that drive me to sign up.  I like to see art works in general, and being a resident here, it is interesting for me to see how the interior of the my neighbours' apartment look likes.  Most of the people prefer to keep their home private, so it is hard to have the opportunity to enter other people's house nowadays.

Since I miss the event in Marine Parade last year, this time, the event is so near and so convenient, I have no excuse to miss it. 

Entering strangers' house and look at the interior, their personal items and art collections, is something new for me to look forwards to.  As I do not like to walk under the hot sun and have to rush home for dinner around 7pm, the 4-5pm tour I booked in advance is the best slot for me!

Though the tour I signed up was scheduled to start between 4-5pm, it was delayed.  I think the reason could be that the response is so good that all tours are full booked. Hence, the groups took longer to visit all the sites as there are bigger in size. 

We have 18 participants in our group and we started at around 5.15pm, about one hours and 15 mins later than the actual schedule slot.  Fortunately, the waiting area this week is moved from ground floor to the air-con hall on the second floor of Tiong Bahru Community Centre.  Most of us have a good nap or good rest while waiting. When it is our turn to do the tour, the heavy rain just stop and we have a refreshing afternoon to start our walk!

As I saw a lot of tour leaders over last weekends were full of passion, I was looking forward to have an exciting tour with lots of anecdotes. I should not have this mind set to start with...

The volunteer guide who guided us is not a Tiong Bahru residents, the information she acquired is from her research, we are not able to hear personal experience and the main focus is on the artists and the history of some street name etc.  As the group is too big to hear her clearing, I wish I could have a copy of the written notes for future reference and hope that the feedback to the co-ordinator at the end of tour at 7.05pm would benefit both parties.

Even an old timer like me, looking at the neighbourhood from many front and back balcony of the six apartments is an eye-opening experience. With the unique art deco architecture and tastefully done interior of the apartment owners, it makes one yielding to stay in the apartment and admire the owner who own them.

Many visitors in our group feel that Tiong Bahru housing is rather unique: it is Singapore’s most eclectic neighbourhood! In the 1.5 to 2 hour tour, we learnt the name and the origin of Seng Poh Road, Eng Watt Street, Tiong Poh Road and other interesting facts and history of the estate!

The laid back rustic atmosphere of the pre-war and post-war housing, blended the contemporary art of the 15 artist, make it even more artistic for viewers like us to appreciate.  Art enhance the estate, and the estate make the art pieces more appealling to viewers!

For me and many of the tour participants, the welcoming owners or artists who are there at the door or inside the apartment during the arts walkabout are warm imprints that we will never forget.  I remembered Jason, the banker, offering us chocolates and Steven Black, the multi-talent artist,  giving us Ang Ku Kueh. Their kind gestures warmed both our stomachs and our hearts!  Many are humble and do not disclose their names and their smiling face made us feel comfortable and welcoming!

Some of the things I learnt in the walking tour include:

* the Swan sculpture placed in the centre of Tiong Bahru Garden, was sculpted by Mr Lim Nang Seng, the same artist of Merlion (the Singapore Icon now). 

* the Teochew Noodle stall inside the coffee shop next to the car park exit in Moh Guan Terrace was the Mee Po Man filming site.

Many participants do not know the different types of Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) and Post-war housing in Tiong Bahru. This visit to the 6 artistic homes may lead them to see Tiong Bahru apartment as their dream home.

Viewing the artistic interior design of the six apartments done by the owners or designers may create "Fairy Tale" images of the estate, and lead them to dream and have high expectation on Tiong Bahru Estate!  I know from my own experience that most of the apartments in Tiong Bahru are not the same as the six homes we experienced today!

Of all the artworks I view, the first whimsical mobile hanged by the window, made from plush and felt, in the shapes of traditional Singapore food is the one that I like most!

For more photos of the artists' works, please view them via:

The mobile is created by Tye Sok Kuan who is a well-known freelance illustrator known for her alter-ego, Sophie Black.

In this hanging mobile, Sophie Black is also the centrepiece.  I think most viewers would like all the yummy objects stringed around the smiling Nyonya, such as Ang Ku Kueh, Butterfly Kueh, Nine layers cake, Small Bao, Sue Mai, Kueh To To and many yummy and delicious local treats.

What I fall in love with is the bright and colourful hanging mobile theme with Paranaka ideas and the details stitches which is hard to match. To me it is like 3D painting using colourful treads as paint brush and felt as canvas!

I learn from this visit and meet some hosts of the homes. They were a nice mix of Singaporeans and expats and art is the one that transcends cultural borders. 

Tiong Bahru is not a big estate and the distance between each homes which host the exhibitions are not very far apart.  Nevertheless, all the apartment are without lift and walking up and down take time and energy. 

After the 2 hours sweaty walking tour, our thigh muscles were tire. The expected workout for me allow me to make excuses for not having much physical exercises next week!

How do I feel about the tour at the end of the day?  Well, like my tour mates, we feel intrusive, and on the other hand, was thankful to hosts who are so kind and so generous in giving us a change to peek, share and enjoy their way of living for a moment! 

Maybe it is a learning journey for us to be humble about what we received and learn to share the joys by being kind and generous to others in the future!

Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

Monday, February 13, 2012

Advanced Certification in Library & Information Services (ACLIS)

By now, many of our LAS WSQ Level 2 course participants had completed the 5 modules required and received the Higher Certification in Library & Information Services (HCLIS).  Most of them are interested to pursue the next level courses.

National Library Board Academy (NLBA) delivers WSQ Level 3 courses that help people in library services further their skills - and careers and the details can be found on NLBA web page at

The key areas are grouped into the following 8 units:

Competency CodeCompetency Unit (CU)Credit Value
CI-LI-336C-0Administer Library Operations2
CI-LI-341S-0Support General Reference and Information Enquiries2
CI-LI-346S-0Support the Management of Promotion and Outreach Activities3
CI-LI-340S-0Support the Management of Bibliographic Control Work3
CI-LI-344S-0Support the Management of Circulation and Membership Services3
CI-LI-343S-0Support the Management of Acquisitions and Serials Work3
SV-PP-301G-0Coach Service Teams and Individuals3
CI-LI-345S-0Support the Management of Collection Maintenance Work2

To understand the course structure and coverage of each unit, just visit

Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Finding and creating yourself

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.

-- George Bernard Shaw

I think most of us are searching the path to find ourselves and the meaning of life in this earthy journey. Along the way, we created something different to call "self" and life fulfilment!

It is not possible and sometime a bit hard for most of us not to create something along the path we travel. We live a normal life, yet, it is normal not to repeat the way other did with their lives!

I find my creative incentive in my daily life, in library work, in learning and reading or in training new or old subjects!
It is the joys of having or experiencing something new from the world I lived, the people and events I experienced that make my days!

Sometime it is creation from my own explorations or with my hand works, sometime it is conversation with the like-minded and new works that give me great thrills in life and keep me going!

Personally, I think "creating" works for me! I find it easier to create something new than to follow something in existing practice. 

It is "be" and "through the creation process", some self discovery is found and done. 

I think to teach or train someone to do something is easy if we allow creation to happen naturally in the learning journey!

That is why I enjoy teaching and training as no session is the same. The learners, trainees and participants are creative souls that enrich the sessions.

Teaching is the way I share my experience and with the little light I hold, I can light up many candles that make the room illuminated. 

When you are in the room with bright hearts that are shining and mirroring one another, learning is joyful and training is contentment!

Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

Friday, February 10, 2012

Publishing professional books: LexisNexis

The Academic Publishing talk – Publishing professional books: When your audience are busy practitioners, by Norainni Rahman, Director of Publishing, Lexis-Nexis, Southeast Asia was originally scheduled from:

12:00 PM to 02:00 PM
10 Feb 2012
Venue : LT22
Venue :

It was jointly organised by NTU Libraries and LexisNexis.  As the NTU Career Fair was on at the same time, the speaker was late, so do I as all nearby car parks are full and waiting in queue do not have any chance in getting a paid covered slot after 30 mins at the south spine car park!

I finally give up waiting and park my car at Heritage Centre and walk to LT 22!
If you were unable to attend the talk, you did not miss much as the slides can be accessed here!
The short session last less than 40 mins and it was an informal conversation with Q and A. 
As I had travelled all the way from town and miss the other session at SMU, I was a bit disappointed at my own choice.
Sometime, you cannot judge the talk by the title! Being a Librarian, I should know judging a book by its cover is not the right way of book selection!  Yet, I have to learn it by experience!  I am a person without much wisdom, after all!
Never mind, it is a good lesson and I learn to exercise my choice better next time!
Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Have made some difference ...

I think the purpose of life is to be useful,
to be responsible,
to be honorable,
to be compassionate. 

It is, after all, to matter:
to count,
to stand for something,
to have made some difference that you lived at all.

-- Leo C. Rosten (1908-1977) American Writer

Monday, February 06, 2012

How to get published in international journals: Wiley-Blackwell

Just attended the inaugural Academic Publishing talk organized by NTU Library:

How to get published in international journals
by Dr. Carol Bacchus-Wermke, VP & Publishing Director from Wiley-Blackwell.
Many of my library counterparts were unable to attend the talk, here is the PPT Dr Caral Bacchus-Wermke used in her presentation today.  If you are interested just click here.
Wiley-Blackwell has other resources for authors at
To attend other Academic Publishing talks organized by NTU Library and academic publishers, just visit and do the registration.

The nine Academic Publishing talks are opened to LAS members as well as the general public. 
Dexterine Ho Soo Miang

Thursday, February 02, 2012

What it takes to be a 21st century librarian?

Is there more to the job than stamping due dates for a librarian?  I recalled "Yan Chuin" told me in 1981 that some one did ask her why there is a need to go overseas and do a Post-graduate Diploma in Librarianship since the job of a librarian is that simple.

Well, I think it is hard to unlock that kind of thought as all the library users do not see the full range of works done by librarians at various levels. 

What they see in their daily visits to the library is just the tip of the iceberg.  They harvest the fruits of the labours by librarians and library staff like the way we get rice from supermarket. 

When rice is purchased from the shelf, many kids and adults may not know the hard work of the peasants and workers in planting and milling rice. 

Many library readers borrow books from the library do not really know how books make its way to the library shelf.  When they remove the books from the shelf, they do not need to know how it was returned to the same place in the original order. 

Why library always have some books that they like?  Most readers are of different professions and at different age and continue to grow in their life journey or career path, how could the library facilitates their diverse and changing needs?

Now we have ebooks and Internet, hence, more and more people think that the world may not need a physical library and the service of librarians.

Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood write "Beyond books: what it takes to be a 21st century librarian" and the article is published in,

Both of them try to clear the mental doubt and explain in details "From connecting with people to keeping up with the latest technologies, there is a whole lot more to the job than stamping due dates"

Full text of the article is available at

Here are some points I extracted to share with the readers here:

* ... many people's experience of librarians is of the frontline, customer service staff. Have you ever considered how the books get on to the shelves and ready for you to borrow? Behind the scenes there are teams of librarians working to make this happen.

* There are librarians who select the books for purchase... process the orders and ... create the bibliographic records that make it possible for you to find the book in the library catalogue and then on the shelves.

* Books are only one aspect... Librarianship is a people profession; a librarian's job is to connect people with the information they are seeking, whatever format that may take.

* ... library jobs have a central purpose: to help people access and use information, for education, for work, or for pleasure.

* ... customer service and communication skills are important. If anyone ever thought they'd become a librarian because they liked books or reading, they would be sorely disappointed if they did not also like people too.

* Libraries of all kinds are keen to demonstrate their value to as wide an audience as possible, and to open up access to culturally significant resources that they hold.

* In the digital age, when information is increasingly becoming available online, there is a propensity to say that libraries and librarians are redundant. This is not the case. Information available online is often of dubious origin and there is still a wealth of information behind paywalls that can only be accessed by those who have paid.

* ... helped many library users ... using search engines for their research ... 

* ... being good communicators with people and active adopters and exploiters of technological developments, librarians need to have detailed specialist subject knowledge to pass on to library users.

* Librarians provide training to show people how to search for information and evaluate what they find.

* These information skills sessions ... include digital literacies ... stay safe online ... social media sites and online collaboration tools.

* There is no standard route into librarianship: librarians have first degrees across the whole spectrum of subjects. To become a professionally qualified librarian you also need a masters qualification in librarianship or information science...

* An introduction to librarianship can be gained through a graduate trainee scheme. These are run by libraries in a variety of sectors... prior to the masters course... 

* More information about the wide range of jobs undertaken by librarians can be found through the Library Day in the Life project...

* If you are interested in finding out about how to embark on a career in librarianship, Ned Potter has summarised the ten things you need to know if you want to work in libraries. Many librarians have also written about their route into the profession through the Library Routes Project.

Some Case studies cited in the article are: 

Kate Smyth, project officer for children and young people, Oldham library and information service

Kate ... run Warhammer, Lego and Yu-Gi-Oh (toy and game) clubs in Oldham's libraries, and also with younger children as the organiser of sessions for young carers and library sleepovers for Scout groups. ... Kate's focus on the personal relationships central to library work continues with her role as administrator for the library's Twitter, Flickr and Facebook accounts, and she is also responsible for the library content on the Go Oldham website.

Emma Cragg, academic support librarian, University of Warwick

Emma acts as the liaison between the university library and the business school at the University of Warwick. Many of the resources used by business students come in digital form, as online journals, databases, or ebooks... She also provides training to help staff and students make the most of the resources available. Her technological skills and interests extend to the use of social media for education and professional development.

Michael Cook, library manager, NHS Bolton library (based at Bolton central library)

The library serves 1,600 local primary care trust (PCT) staff as well as health students, social care staff and the general public. Michael's daily work involves looking after the physical library space and helping readers with the systematic searches of health and medical literature necessary for research and good treatment practice ... and works on collaborative projects with NHS teams and public libraries to improve access to health and mental health resources for the general public.

Katie Birkwood, Hoyle Project associate, St John's College library, University of Cambridge

Kate is cataloguing the papers of 20th-century scientist Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001)... focus of her work is organising and running events for the general public. These events open up  the library and display.  It helps to interpret its treasures for people of all educational levels and backgrounds. Kate also works with schools and other special interest groups to supplement and broaden curricula...  her role is like teacher, curator, creative designer and tour guide.

Emma Cragg and Katie Birkwood are academic librarians and participants of the Library Day in the Life project

Please read the full text at