Tan (standing) overlooking the childrens art and craft sessions in the Bukit OUG Condominium library.
Chua ,who formerly ran the childcare centre, now volunteers with administration work at the Bukit OUG Condominium library
These volunteers offer story-telling, singing as well as art and craft sessions for the children. There is also an annual potluck party organised for the children to enjoy. Set up by the Bukit OUG Joint Management Body (JMB) two years ago, the library was once a childcare centre run by Chua. Many of the residents’ children were sent here when their parents went to work. Eventually the children outgrew the nursery so Chua stopped operating it. The childcare centre was given a new lease of life as a library three years ago after Tan, a former English teacher and author of children’s books, moved in. Trained in Kirkby College from 1959 to 1960, Tan taught in various schools and took optional retirement in 1989 to go into freelance writing and volunteer work in hospitals and a special needs centre.
During the condominium’s annual general meeting, where she is also a committee member, Tan proposed if she could start a library at the space that was once a childcare centre. The JMB embraced the idea without hesitation. Adrian Young, the then JMB chairman, redid the flooring, moved out the old furniture and brought in shelves for books. To fill up the shelves, Mosdeen, Tan and Chua spread the word to residents, friends and a publishing house. The book donation programme continues as an ongoing exercise. “It is all very casual. We don’t even have a cataloguing system. “We just display the books but of course, we do the sorting first as not all titles are suitable,” said Tan, who is the library coordinator.
Though open only once a week for two hours, the library’s existence is a much appreciated by parents who have seen an improvement in their children’s reading skills. While the children say they enjoy the sessions because they get to be with their friends, one parent observed that her son has become less shy when it comes to talking to strangers as the story-telling sessions have helped him build self confidence. “It is the children’s progress that enriches me,” said Tan, who encourages the children to tell their own stories during the sessions. Tan also takes it upon herself to inculcate disciplinary values in her sessions. No pushing, shoving, running or foul language.
Disruptive behaviour is punished by immediate expulsion. Children are also taught basic etiquette on strata living. One valued point that she has drummed into the children is to dry themselves thoroughly upon exiting the pool so water will not drip all over the lobby and pose a danger to other residents who could slip and fall due to wet, slippery surface. The Bukit OUG Condominium library is open to residents only. The age limit for the children’s sessions is between four and 12.