In the beginning, the National Library was modeled on French libraries, and was tasked with collecting the best books of literature, the arts, and science, as well as all documents about Indochina.
Between 1917 and 1954, the library amassed a huge collection of books and materials. After Hanoi was liberated in 1954, the library began imitating libraries in the Soviet Union, paid more attention to practical research, and began supporting library studies in Vietnam.
In 1957, the library began collecting books for an affiliate library in southern Vietnam. This campaign received a strong response from cities and provinces in northern Vietnam who contributed to the establishment of a network of libraries tasked with providing the people of southern Vietnam with all printed materials immediately after national reunification.
The National Library of Vietnam officially become a member of the World Digital Library on December 5th, 2012.
"The library’s archives now contain 2.5 million items, including a member of valuable collections dating back to the 17th century containing books on Indochina, and Sino-Vietnamese characters. Recently we’ve developed digital collections and are expanding new services for readers, especially young readers, to promote a reading culture in Vietnam.", said Kieu Thuy Nga, the Library's Director.
From the initial 5000 books, today’s National Library has become Vietnam’s biggest library, welcoming 2000 visitors each day plus more than 6500 online visitors via the library’s website.
"The library has valuable documents and other materials for types of study, research, and entertainment for readers of all ages. I used to visit the library to collect information and data for my graduate thesis. The library was a great reference source for me.", said Tran Duc Thang, a Hanoian.
Since 2002, the National Library has organized an annual “Book festival and reading culture”, attracting thousands of visitors. The library cooperates with 120 libraries, research centers, and information centers in 32 countries. It is working hard to offer readers cutting-edge services. Nguyen Truong Son is a frequent visitor to the National Library of Vietnam:
"It isn’t just the largest library in Vietnam, with a huge collection of books and documents. The National Library is also a popular venue for exhibitions, conferences, and seminars on culture, history, and tourism. It’s also a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign visitors alike because of its unique architecture.", said Nguyen Truong Son, a frequent visitor to the National Library of Vietnam.