National Library Board: Building Social Capital

Publication Type


Year Completed



This case describes how public and private organisations can work together for the social good. Elaine Ng is the CEO of the National Library Board (NLB), which had recently launched a green library for children. The library had grown from a small part of a school building to a large network of libraries. The new National Library was a much larger modern building built in an environmentally sustainable manner. In the basement was My Tree House, a green library for children that was the result of a collaborative effort between NLB and City Development Limited (CDL).

The goals of the library had changed from providing convenience and accessibility to information to building social capital and facilitating knowledge sharing under the auspices of the Ministry of Information and the Arts. Technological change has allowed NLB to become more efficient in managing the loaning and restocking of books. In recent years, a more informed public was demanding more accountability from companies in terms of reducing pollution and being more socially responsible. NLB was taking the lead in environmental sustainability as they partnered with various organisations in conservation efforts.

Their partnership with CDL went a step further in creating the world’s first green library for children. It was constructed using sustainable materials and was stocked with literature on environmentalism. CDL, as a company that was also environmentally conscious, generously gathered a consortium to provide the expertise in construction while NLB stocked the library with relevant books. The collaboration resulted in an on-going effort to educate the young in environmental sustainability.

The objective is for students to understand concepts related to social capital and the knowledge economy, analyse the benefits of public private partnerships and discuss the social, environmental and economic issues from a company’s perspective as they engage in sustainable practices.


Singapore, national libraries, Green library, social capital, knowledge sharing, sustainability, triple bottom line, public-private partnership


Accounting | Asian Studies | Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Library and Information Science | Strategic Management Policy

Research Areas

Corporate Reporting and Disclosure

Data Source

Field Research


Public Libraries

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Temporal Coverage


Education Level

Executive Education; Postgraduate; Undergraduate


Singapore Management University

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