10 Memories of Libraries in The Past We’ll Never Forget

Unless you’re old AF like me, you won’t have expected that we used to borrow library books with this.

Image: straitstimes.com

No, seriously. That used to be our library card.

I know some of you aren’t even born in 1983 and might just mistake this as a KOI receipt, so I’ve taken the initiative to list down the 10 best memories of libraries in the past we won’t forget—and I hope that you still remember that libraries still exist.

Remembering Due Dates on First Page of Books

Image: github.com

Here’s what will be pasted on the first page of a book: the due date. To find yours, just search for the one with the latest date. From what I remember, when you return a book, they’ll stamp a “Returned” on the date, so what’s left is just your due date.

I know the dates here are really way beyond history; but you get the idea lah. Not many people in the past have a camera, you know.

Queuing to Borrow Your Books

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The queue was really that long. Or even longer.

Everyone would open their books and stack them up. When it was their turn, the librarian would stamp on every single book (sometimes with an angry face, but no one cared). When books were the only entertainment then, you would have expected a crowd that’s ten times of what is left in the library now.

Library Card Turning Yellow

Image: singaporememory.sg

You see the barcode there? It wasn’t just a barcode then – if it’s very yellowish, it meant you’re a bookworm, as the more you use it, the more yellowish it becomes. I’ve no idea why; all I know is that in order to impress my friends, I’ll show them how yellowish the barcode is.

I wonder why I wasn’t offended when they called me a bookworm. Oh wait, in the past, people weren’t so easily offended. Yes, right.

Watching a Movie in a Library

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Bet you didn’t know this, eh? In the past, there were audiovisual areas in which visitors could watch a movie or a documentary. There was even a booklet with all the available titles, and each TV came with two headsets.

The TVs were so highly sought after that you would have to go there early in the morning to book a slot for, say, one in the late morning or afternoon. You couldn’t book one day in advance or book online because…hey, it’s the 90s. No one book anything online.

It was a Crowded Place. VERY Crowded

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No matter what time you went, be it peak or non-peak hours, the library was crowded AF. Kids ran around and were scolded by librarians, adults slept everywhere and there was always a queue everywhere.

Finding a book you want meant you had to reserve it; and 90% of the time, people spent hours in the library. Now? See the picture above? That’s how crowded it is now.

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We had dates there

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I really can’t imagine how your crush will react if you ask him or her this now: “Hey, wanna hang out in Jurong library this weekend?”

But in the past, that was the norm. And hanging out meant his: having lunch at McDonald’s, looking for books in the afternoon and going off at 5:00 p.m. And if you would have noticed, it’s one hell of an affordable date.

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Lockers and checkers

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There’re still lockers at the reference area in National Library, but in the past, every library had one. Visitors weren’t allowed to bring anything else into the library, and there were even people checking your bags.

With the high number of visitors, finding a locker was a pain in the butt. And did I mention that you needed to pay for the locker?

Families Bonded There

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I’m not sure if people still do that, but in the past, you could see hordes of families bonding over a book or simply reading together. If you’d think back, it’s one heck of a heartwarming scene that’s lacking in today’s society.

Nowadays, you only see people sleeping in the library, or students pretending to be working on their assignments there when they’re actually Facebooking. Sometimes even the fake AF “self-employed” businessman “working” with their MacBook and taking countless Instagram shots.

Four books. Four damn books

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No one in their right mind would borrow less than four books then. Everyone would be carrying those four books once they were out of the library, and they made sure they read every single one of them.

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I bet you don’t even know how many books you can borrow now. And for your info, it’s eight books, but I don’t think you even give a damn.

Friendships Built

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Nowadays, people make friends via Facebook, but in the past, people made friends via real books in a library. Some parents would strike a conversation with other parents, and some kids would argue with another kid over a book.


I won’t be surprised if one of your closest friends is known from the library. Now…well, let’s just say this kind of friendship is going to be part of history.

This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying:

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