Built with words. Shaped by people.

Our world is constantly in motion.
Think about that.
Take a good look at what our world consists of.
And then you will see that everything we know is made up of words.
Words that have the power to change our world.
To separate fact from fiction.
To build bridges. Or break them down.
Words have the power to make you feel at home or to shut you out.
To make you laugh or make you tremble.
Our world is built with words.
And shaped by people.
With their ideas.
Their past.
Their dreams.

And their vision for the future.
With the National Library you can get to know your world better.
Or someone else's.
You can go on a journey of discovery through the world of the past or look ahead to the world of tomorrow.
The National Library is the place where all our worlds come together. And where every word counts.
Our world is built with words and shaped by people.
Expand your world with the National Library.


How it began

The National Library was founded in 1798. In that year, the collection of books and manuscripts of the Stadtholder William V, who had emigrated to England, was housed in the Binnenhof. According to the first catalogue from 1800, the collection then numbered 5,500 books and periodicals. During the reign of King Louis Napoleon, the library was designated 'Koninklijke' (Royal) and we became the Koninklijke Bibliotheek of the Netherlands. This is still reflected in our name: KB, National Library. 

The collection grew quickly and we had to move. The KB was housed in the Mauritshuis but this quickly also proved too small. King William I decided to move the library to the building at Lange Voorhout 34, where the KB was located from 1821 to 1982. In 1982 the KB moved to the current building next to Centraal Station, which was designed by the OD205 agency under the direction of architect Arie Hagoort. 

A place where every word counts

Over the course of 200 years, the KB has grown into a nationally and internationally renowned scientific institution with almost 500 employees. When it was founded in 1798, it was already the intention to collect the national heritage in print form. This took place quite randomly until 1974, but since then the KB has collected one copy of every publication (book, magazine and newspaper) issued in the Netherlands. Together they form the Netherlands collection with 'everything from or about the Netherlands'. Since the 1990s, the KB has also been collecting digital Dutch publications and we now even store websites. Everything can be viewed in the KB, also online as much as possible, and is properly stored by our specialists.

Promotion of reading, digital inclusion and lifelong development

Since 2015, the KB has also played an important coordinating role in the network of public libraries. We are central to the network of (public) libraries in the Netherlands and we’re building the national digital library. Together with public libraries, we are committed to promoting reading, digital inclusion and lifelong development.