The origin of the National Library of Myanmar is Bernard Free Library which was established by Sir Charles Edward Bernard, British Commissioner for Lower Myanmar. He founded his private library with the cooperation of Sir John Jardine, Chairman of Education Syndicate for Lower Myanmar, with his books at his own building (now BEHS No.1) on 21 February 1883 and opened to the public for freely use the library.
The collection of Bernard Free Library was increased by the publications in various subjects from west countries which were added by Sir John Jardine and Professor Childers from the Pali Department of Yangon University. U Po Hmyin and U Myo from Yangon also donated palm-leaf manuscripts and parabeik, and books in Mon, Myanmar and Pali languages for value of 10000 kyats of that period.
In addition, the library purchased palm-leaf manuscripts and parabeik collections of Bagan Minister U Tin and Kinwun Mingyi U Kaung which were moved from Mandalay Palace.
In 1920, the library purchased manuscripts and books from Kinwun Mingyi Pitakataik with 15000 kyats. In 1924, collections from Bagan Minister U Tin Pitakataik for 5000 kyats were added to the library.
After Independence, in 1952, the Ministry of Union Culture was established and the Bernard Free Library was transferred under the Ministry as government organization. On 1 June 1952, the Ministry of Union Culture opened the library as “State Library” under the name of State Library, Museum, Art Gallery and Theatre at the Jubilee Hall in Yangon. The State Library inherited the collections of Bernard Free Library which
comprised printed publications of 1900 in Europe, oriental books, and manuscripts from Mandalay Palace of Yadanapon period.
Sir Charles Edward Bernard (1837-1901)
Bernard Free Library (1883)
Opening as the National Library
In June 1962, the State Library was moved to the second and third floors of the building in Pansodan Street. During the period of Revolutionary Council, in 1964, the library was
changed the name as “National Library” and moved to the third floor of City Hall in August 1964. The National Library opened its general reading room and provided services to its public at the City Hall on 4 January 1965.
In August 1984, the National Library was moved to the Six Storeyed Building, Strand Road by sharing spaces with other governmental organizations and undertaking its library functions.
On 15 July 1995, foundation of the new building for the National Library was made at No. 18/51, corner of East Racing Road and Laydaungkan Road, Tarmwe TSP. The building comprised seven storeys in four wings. On 17 June 2002, the National Library was moved to the “A” wing of new building which was not finished all, and performed the library functions.
On 2 May 2008, the library building was destroyed by the Cyclone Nargis. Some printed books collection and other non-printed collections were damaged by the cyclone but most of them were recovered as much as possible. As the damaged building was not able to be restored, the National Library was moved to current place, No. 85-A, Thirimingalar Yeiktha Lane, Kabar Aye Pagoda Road, Yankin TSP., Yangon.
National Library at Jubilee Hall, Yangon (1952-1964)
National Library at Yangon City Hall (1965-1984)
National Library at Six Storeyed Building, Strand Road (1984- 2002)
National Library at Tarmwe Township (2002-2008)
National Library at Yankin Township
National Library (Nay Pyi Taw) establishment
After establishment of Nay Pyi Taw, new government official city, the Government planned to build a national library in new city. The foundation of the National Library (Naypyitaw) was laid down in 2010 and the building was completed in 2013. The National Library (Nay Pyi Taw) was opened in May 2013 to public.
National Library (Nay Pyi Taw)
New place of National Library (Yangon)
Due to the location, the National Library (Yangon) in Yankin Township was not easily accessible to the public. With the request of the Myanmar Library Association and the
Yangon Heritage Trust, the President Office agreed to open the National Library (Yangon) in downtown, at No. (604/608), Merchant Street, Pabedan Township.
The building renovation work was started in July 2017 by the Ministry of Construction and completed in September 2019. Digital Library and Library Automation as well as deployment activities were completed during the 2018-2019 financial year. Now the National Library (Yangon) is relocated at No. (604/608), Merchant Street, Pabedan Township.
National Library (Yangon) Pabedan Township
Vision of the National Library is ‘To be a National Literary Heritage Centre’. In other words, the National Library is expecting to be a national centre of libraries in Myanmar, and a knowledge bank for Myanmar culture and heritage.
National Library is implementing its functions according to the following objectives to meet its vision:
(a) to acquire all local publications and rare literary works as well as for reference by local and foreign researchers and the public;
(b) to acquire ancient literature and library resources, publications on Myanmar published in abroad, collections on Myanmar nationalities and to preserve as a national literature;
(c) to promote and facilitate the establishment of a nationwide system of librarianship in keeping with national standards of provision.
National Library is under the administration of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, Ministry of Culture. The functions of the library are managed by the Director. According to the new organizational structure, there are two national libraries; one in Yangon and another in Naypyitaw.
The foundation of the National Library (Naypyitaw) was laid down in 2010 and the building was completed in 2013. The National Library (Naypyitaw) was opened in May 2013 to public.
Among the 60 total strength of the National Library, 20 staffs are holders of Diploma, Master and Master of Research on Library and Information field. Most of the library staffs are degree holders and completed short courses on library science. Those who are eligible to attend the post-graduate degree courses are continuing at the Yangon University annually.
Heads of the National Library
Since its opening as National Library, the Heads of the National Library are as follow:
(1) U Than Maung (1952-1955)
(2) Daw Nyunt Myint (1955-1971)
(3) Daw Than Than Aye (1971-1988)
(4) U Kyaing Hlaing (1988-1989)
(5) U Khin Maung Tin (1989-1998)
(6) U Myint Kyaing (1998-2001)
(7) U Kyaw Oo (2001-2010)
(8) Daw Mya Oo (2010- 2017, Yangon)(2017-2021, Nay Pyi Taw)
(9) Daw Kayti Htwe (2014-2017, Nay Pyi Taw)(2017-2018, Yangon)
(10) Daw Yee Yee Htwe (2018-2021, Yangon)
National Library of Myanmar (Nay Pyi Taw)
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National Library (Nay Pyi Taw)
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