My library card expired. At the same time I knew I was about to start a new research project for the next exhibition at TPM, so I thought I’d renew the card and get ready for some swotting at the same time. I had a load of books to give away so I took them to the public library up at Bishan, being a) a branch that was on my MRT line, b) a branch that has shelves for dropping off old books and picking up new ones, c) somewhere I still hadn’t yet explored.
Bishan was spacious, windy and smelled of lunch, which immediately put me in a bad mood because I’d started the stupid Farce Diet and was feeling the starvation just as I walked past Simply Bread’s croissant-rich air outlet.
A nice lady at the library counter confused me completely by telling me that the card itself had not expired but that I still needed to pay. This she helped me do at a ‘kiosk’ where you press in your card and wait, stamp in some codes, wait, out comes card chip facing up, wait, put card back in chip facing down, wait, slide, wait, tap in more words, buttons go ping, card pops out. Yes, that is why she helped me.
Having dropped off the books and updated my card I did a big smug tick-motion with my arm off the imaginary list and stepped gaily towards the MRT (ignoring mean old Simply Bread very bravely), but the stupid list got all needy again two weeks later, when I got a payment renewal notice by post. So today I popped in to my favourite Singapore library branch, the very central National Library on Victoria Street, partly to challenge my own private vertigo by going up and down in the glass lifts that are stuck to the outside of the building, but partly also to ask, politely, WTFpleaseandthankyou.
So I did that, nicely, and the nice lady (they are all VERY nice at libraries here, please go and see for yourselves) told me that in fact I didn’t need to pay anything until October and that everything was fine. She said that sometimes, just every now and then, they will send you a little note to remind you that at some point, in the future, you will probably need to pay something.