The idea of setting up the National Library of Nigeria began with the role of the Nigerian Division of West African Library Association (WALA) whose efforts and activities were more directly connected with the realization of the dream for a National Library of Nigeria, a dream that dated back 1930s.
Following the recommendation of the Nigerian Division of (WALA), which later became the Nigerian Library Association in 1962, a Library Advisory committee was established in the late 50`s. This Committee had the assignment of working out plans for library services in the country and to persuade the government to agree to set up a National Library.
On the attainment of independence, the Nigerian government embraced the idea of a National Library as proposed by the association.
The Ford Foundation of America agreed not only to finance but also provide the necessary expertise for a feasibility study. The survey recommended a National Library of Nigeria, thus backing up the recommendation of the Library Advisory Committee.
Dr Carl White a distinguished Scholar/Librarian was appointed to come to Nigeria in February 1962 to assist in setting up necessary technical personnel for the National Library. Thus, in September 1964, the government passed the first legislation.
The National Library of Nigeria came into existence by the National Library Act passed in September, 1964. This Act was later replaced and substituted with the National Library Decree No 29 of 1970. It is a grade "A" parastatal and the apex library in the country.
It is the giant memory of the nation, her intellectual store house and data bank for learning and remembering process. It is the Vanguard of library development and information services delivery, advising institutions, organizations and MDAs at all levels of government on library development.