National Library of the Philippines

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The National Library of the Philippines (Fil: Ang Pambansang Aklatan ng Pilipinas) is the official national library of the Philippines. It is located on T.M. Kalaw St., Ermita, Manila, where it occupies 26,400 sq. ft. of ground area and 198,700 sq. ft. of floor space.


The history of the National Library may be traced back to the inauguration of the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas on October 24, 1891, in the last decade of the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. The library initially had only about 100 Filipiniana books, a collection which was damaged during the Philippine-American War.

The history of the National Library of the Philippines may be traced from the inauguration of the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas in 1981 during the last decade of the Spanish colonization. The museum-cum-library housed an initial collection of 100 Filipiniana works, which was open to the public and free of charge. It was located at No. 12, Gunao St., Quiapo, Manila.

The collection, however, was damaged during the Philippine-American War. On 9 March 1990, the recovered books were handed over to the American Circulating Library Association of Manila, and were added to the 10,000-volume collection of the American Circulating Library. The association's main purpose for founding the library was the creation of “a source of instruction and profitable entertainment for the American soldiers and sailors in the Philippines and for the American residents” in Manila. It was located at 70 Rosario St., Binondo, Manila, with Nellie Young Egbert as its first librarian.

On 5 March 1901, the Philippines saw the beginning of public libraries, when the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 96 that formalized the Association's donation of its collection to the American military government in the country.

In November 1905, the American Circulating Library was made into a division of the Bureau of Education. In March 1906, it moved to its new site in the Bureau of Education building on the corner of Cabildo St. and Recoletos St. in Intramuros, Manila.

Through Act No. 1849, which was passed by lawmakers in the Philippine Assembly on 3 June 1908, the Philippine Public Library was created. On 20 May 1909, Act No. 1935 was passed renaming it the Philippine Library. Two years after on October, the Library transferred to a building along Santa Potentiana St. in Intramuros. The library remained there until July 1927, and was merged with the Executive Bureau's Division of Archives, Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks, and the Law Library of the Philippine Assembly on 31 January 1918. The merger was named Philippine Library and Museums.

The library was eventually divided on 7 December 1928 through Act No. 3477, which established the National Museum and the National Library were established. The Library further underwent a series of relocation, lodged in the Legislative Building until 1944; to the former Bilibid Prison in Oroquieta, Sampaloc, Manila in 1945; and back to the Legislative Building in 1950 following the approval of Executive No. 94, series of 1947 that changed its name to Bureau of Public Libraries. In just months, the Philippine Assembly ordered the library to move out and occupy the old Philippine Assembly buildings instead at the corner of Lepanto and P. Paredes St. in Sampaloc.

In 1955, the Library moved once more to the discarded buildings of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Arlegui St., although the General Reference Division was still housed on P. Paredes Street and the Research and Bibliography Division, including the Binding Section, were still located in the old Bilibid Prison on Oroquieta St. The passage of Republic Act No. 3873 on 18 June 1964, reverted the name to the National Library. [1]

The National Library is currently housed near the Rizal Park, facing T.M. Kalaw St. in Manila and was inaugurated in 1961 in commemoration of the 100th birth anniversary of the Philippines national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.


  • James A. Robertson (Feb. 20, 1910 - Apr. 1916)
  • Feliciano Basa (Mar. 31, 1916 - Jan. 14, 1917)
  • Macario Adriatico (Jul. 1917 - April 14, 1919)
  • Enrique V. Filamor (Apr. 25, 1919 - Nov. 15, 1920)
  • Jose Zurbito (Actg. Asst. Dir.: Nov. 16, 1920 - Dec. 30, 1924)
  • Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera (Jan. 23, 1923 - Mar. 25, 1925)
  • Jaime C. de Veyra (Actg. Asst. Dir.: Mar. 27, 1925 - Jun. 14, 1925)
  • Fernando Canon (Actg. Asst. Dir.: Jun. 16, 1925 - Aug. 11, 1925)
  • Epifanio de los Santos (May 16, 1925 - Apr. 18, 1928)
  • Teodoro M. Kalaw (Feb. 16, 1929 - Dec. 14, 1939)
  • Eulogio Rodriguez (Jan. 16, 1940 - Feb. 3, 1945)
  • Luis Montilla (Officer-in-Charge: Jun. 1945 - Sept. 1, 1946)
  • Eulogio Rodriguez (Sept. 19, 1946 - Apr. 3, 1949)
  • Luis Montilla (May 24, 1949 - May 7, 1956)
  • Ernesto R. Rodriguez, Jr. (Officer-in-Charge to Acting Director: May 10, 1956- 1962)
  • Carlos Quirino (May 8, 1962 - Jan. 22, 1966)
  • Rufino Alejandro (Officer-in-Charge from DECS)
  • Serafin D. Quiason (Jul. 14, 1966 - Sept. 23, 1986)
  • Narcissa V. Muñasque (Sept. 24, 1986 - Mar. 31, 1992)


Over the years, the Library has acquired various private collections through donations and purchases, including million volumes of books, monographs, newspapers, and picture collections. Among these are The President Manuel L. Quezon Papers, the President Manuel A. Roxas Papers, the Julian Cruz Balmaceda Collection, the Lope K. Santos Collection, the General Carlos P. Romulo Memorabilia, the Philippine Revolutionary Papers (1892-1906), rare Philippine newspapers and magazines such as El Indio Agraviado, La Lectura Popular, El Renacimiento, Muling Pagsilang, El Crito del Pueblo, El Heraldo de la Revolucion, and La Independencia. The “crown jewels’’ of the National Library are the Rizal manuscripts, notably the original manuscripts of the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. [2] In 2010, the National Library celebrates its 109th anniversary.


  1. ^ "History of the National Library" (accessed 11 February 2010)
  2. ^ "107th Anniversary of the Library of the Philippines", Manila Bulletin (accessed through on 10 February 2010)

External Links

  1. ^ "National Library of the Philippines Web Site"
  2. ^ "National Library of the Philippines Catalog (OPAC)"
  3. ^ "Philippine eLibrary Web Site"



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