When Margaret Meets the Queen #1

July 1, 2008 at 12:56 am | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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When was the last time you visited the library? In today’s society where almost nothing comes free, I think the most wonderful thing that one can still enjoy free must be picking up a book from the national library at absolutely no cost. Well, that’s if you are a citizen here. :p

In a small road off Queensway, at Margaret Drive, lies the oldest public library in Singapore – Queenstown Community Library.

A National Library Board archive picture of the Queenstown Library

Opened by the then PM Mr Lee, Queenstown library was opened to serve
“a sanctuary of peace and quiet where concentration is possible..”

Grewing up in the Margaret Drive/Queenstown/Commonwealth area, (remember my family has an explained liking for moving house…?) the Queenstown Library was one of my favourite hang out place during my school days. I even had a short stint working as a part-time Library Assistant during one of the school holidays. Haha…basically the job was just to arrange books lah...the pay sucks – less than $19 per day (no CPF). To save money, I would walk 20minutes from my old house at Commonwealth to Margaret Drive. But it was one of the best holiday job I had done cos I liked the environment. Besides arranging books on shelves and repairing torn ones, the best thing about the job was that as staff, we had priority in borrowing new books after they had been stuck with stickers and book jackets. Haha…so you always wonder how come new books on the computer catalogue are not available huh…? Now you know…:p

I continued visiting the Queenstown Library even after my school days until I shifted to my present new place. After the 2003 upgrading, I had only visited the Queenstown Library once.

Despite having gone through some upgrading work in 2003, most of the
original facade has been left intact.

But the interior had changed by quite a bit, with the addition of a cafe and I was kinda lost in the new library. The central staircase was gone. I couldn’t find my old memories.

I didn’t return until recently, and was kinda glad that the government has chosen to upgrade the old library instead of tearing it down. I am sure many Singaporeans are still feeling the pain now that the Stamford Library, another library that I used to visit often for research, had been demolished to give way to the ugly, gigantic tombstone-like Fort Canning Tunnel. 😦

The side view of Queenstown Libary

The papers reported that the lease of the building is up for renewal in 2010. The former thriving Margaret Drive neighbourhood around the library is shrinking, especially so after the polyclinic next door has been relocated.

The old Queenstown Polyclinic had served the public since 13/01/1963

My parents used to bring me along when they visited the clinic and
I remembered always feeling so bored by the super long wait. The once
ever crowded polyclinic is now as dead as a doornail…

Interestingly, the Remand Prison is the library’s next closest neighbour

Anyone who had visited the Queenstown Library would definitely have taken a meal or drink from the food centre just opposite the road. Famous for its various stalls of local food, many of the hawkers have been doing business there for years.

Two storeys of food stalls, with a bank and restaurants on the upper level too!

Stall selling fried doughs…

Business still going strong at many stalls after lunch hour

A standalone toilet building just opposite the food centre. I dun
recall any other hawker centres with toilets under different roofs…

With plans for a new market to lure back the younger generation,
how long more can this sign stand?

Also see related posts:
> Visiting an Old Friend
> Growing up in a One-Room Flat


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