Found this article that was published online in Dec/Jan 2007
This was a marketing project that i thought of and executed for work back then to promote the Ask service.
Had so much fun with it.
My Job and Me!
Want to know what a fairytale princess, backpacking traveller and sci-fi hero have in common?
A brainchild of the National Library Board (NLB), the ASK! service is fun, fast and free! Helmed by a team of professional librarians, anyone can ask a question and receive an answer (or reliable sources of information) within three working days.
Seeing double: The librarians and their standees.
In this issue, we speak to the librarians behind the popular ASK! service for a snapshot of their work:
* Ms Lim Shang Nee, Librarian, Central Lending Library (CLL), and Project Coordinator of the ASK! Standees initiative
* Ms Jessica Goh, Librarian, Jurong Regional Library (JRL) - the Fairytale Princess
* Mr Zulkifli Amin, Librarian, Jurong Regional Library (JRL) - the Sci-fi Hero from the movie, The Matrix
* Ms Krist Chan, Librarian, Tampines Regional Library (TRL) - the Explorer
* Ms Hafsah Yasin, Assistant Manager, Tampines Regional Library (TRL) - the friendly Librarian
* Ms Jillian Lim, Librarian, library@orchard (OCCL) - the backpacking Traveller
Q : Tell us more of the ASK! service.
Shang Nee: “ASK! is an Advisory and Enquiry Service at the Public Libraries. We provide information and references to books and other resources, on all subject matter. We started this initiative because we wanted people to get started with self-directed learning (or Actively Seeking Knowledge through asking questions – that’s the acronym for our ASK! service). The standees were part of the publicity to get people to approach us with questions. They have been up since July 2006. The response has been pretty good. The questions come in from the public via telephone, email and at the counters.”
Q : What is the story behind the characters? Why was everyone dressed as such?
Shang Nee: “The costume characters are actually representatives of the popular genres of materials available in our library collections. The Fairytale Princess represents Children & Adult Fiction; the Sci-fi Hero from The Matrix represents Science Fiction/Horror & Graphic Novels; the Explorer represents Non-fiction/ Reference; the Librarian represents Business and IT, as well as the Library in general; and the backpacking Traveller represents, well, Travel.”
Q : What is the question you have all been asked most?
Jillian: “Other than 'Where is the toilet?' (everyone laughs in agreement), we very often get asked, 'Why is the sky blue?'”
Zulkifli (chipping in): “That is the most popular question!”
Krist: “Children often ask me, 'Which comes first - the chicken or the egg?' or 'What is the biggest animal?'”
Jillian the backpacking 'Traveller', complete with passport in hand!
Q : What is the most unusual question you have received?
Shang Nee: “Someone asked, ‘Why do women open their mouths when they apply mascara?’ In fact, we have put that as a question on one of the standees!”
Krist the 'Explorer' wonders where her adventurous spirit will take her next.
Q : So considering the many questions you are asked daily, would you consider yourselves 'walking encyclopaedias' by now?
Krist: “No, I wouldn't say that. We can readily answer most of the commonly asked questions, like, 'Why is it that when I have a fever, I feel cold even though my temperature is high?' We have to research through published sources and if we can’t find the answers, we may have to consult the relevant authorities or experts on the subject.”
Jillian: “Once, someone sent a photo of a very weird red fish with armour-like plating on its head (animatedly uses hands to illustrate) that he had spotted at a wet market. As we are not fish experts, the question was forwarded to AVA [Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority] and they came back with the answer - it was an armoured sea robin!”
Q : How do you feel seeing a cardboard replica of yourself?
Jessica: “Very weird! It is so not me! When my friends came to the library, they were so shocked when they saw my standee ... they just stood there with a blank smile on their faces and people looked at them instead.”
Jessica the 'Princess' is really a girl-next-door.
Q : Have you been recognised from your standee?
Zulkifli: “The ironic thing is that my mom, who goes to the library, actually saw my standee there but didn’t recognise it!” (everyone laughs)
Hafsah: “My son’s teacher recognised it at the library, went back to the school and spread the word around. I think mine is the most easily recognisable standee as I am just myself. A friend’s three-year-old child recognised me from the standee and now always greets my standee when she sees it at the library.”
Most easily recognisable is Hafsah, the friendly 'Librarian'.
Jillian: “People don’t seem to recognise me from my standee. It could be my glasses [which I wear at work]; you know, the ‘Superman’ concept - “by day, mild-mannered librarian ...” (everyone bursts out laughing)
Q : Any similarities to the characters you portray?
Jessica: “I have a frog prince! It’s actually my niece’s toy frog.”
Zulkifli: “I’ve never watched the [Matrix] movies (roars of incredulous laughter follow). I’ve never quite liked sci-fi movies; I like Asian culture movies, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Cool Zul – Mr Matrix himself – much prefers Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon!
Jillian: “I’ve never actually gone backpacking! In fact, almost all of the props in the picture come from our true backpacker Shang Nee! The closest I’ve come to backpacking was ... in Germany; we didn’t have the budget, so we couldn’t stay in five-star hotels and I had to carry a heavy bag around. Backpacks are heavy but they are very good for souvenirs. Another time I was bogged down by baggage when I went to New Orleans in late June [this year] for the American Library Association Conference and collected bags of souvenirs!”
Krist: “I have gone 'off the beaten track' to Vietnam and I’m planning to go to Cambodia next month. In Vietnam, I went through this tunnel that was used during the war. There are three levels. It’s very narrow and people actually lived there for years! It’s pitch dark and once you’re in, you can’t reverse, so you have to literally crawl through, which takes about 20 minutes.”
Q : So you're the only one who lives up to your standee's character! Looks like you all have very varied interests.
Everyone chiming in: “Yes, librarians do not shelve books; we do more than that! We do not go Shhh!!” (everyone laughs in agreement).
“Seriously, we do a lot more than that. And we need to be professionally qualified to be librarians.”
“We are an especially diverse bunch, with diverse interests, although some folks may stereotype us as people whose lives only revolve around books.”
Shang Nee: “We do like books, but that is just one aspect of us; we sure have many other interests and talents as well.”
Jessica: “Oh, and Librarians are HOT!”
Find out more about these intrepid librarians as well as the ASK! service at : http://dl.nlb.gov.sg/ask/the_librarian/