Established in 1967, National Library of Bhutan (NLB) has extensive collection of about 6,100 Tibetan and Bhutanese books, manuscripts and xylographs and about 9000 printing boards and the wood printing blocks for religious books. The stock of books is growing. The library boasts of one the largest holdings of Mahayana Buddhist literature in the world, originally written in classical language of the lamaist world, called choekad choekad (chos skad). It also has a sizeable and rich collection of English or Western books related mostly to Himalayas, Bhutan and Buddhism. It is dedicated to the collection, preservation and promotion of the cultural and religious heritage of Bhutan, especially its ancient written and printed resources related to Bhutanese history, religion, social traditions and culture.
At first, Bhutan's National Library was situated within the premises of Tashichodzong and was later moved to various locations, before it was finally shifted permanently to the present site at Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, in 1984, under the National Commission for Cultural Affairs (NCCA). The new building complex is built in the traditional Bhutanese style. The four-storyed white stone building built in the fashion of a temple houses all the collection of books and documents and is reminiscent of a rdzong-fortress with a central tower. It is a sacred place representing all the three aspects of Buddha. Statues and paintings in the library represent the physical aspect of Buddha, books and printing blocks represent the verbal aspect of Buddha while the eight stupas on the altar on the ground floor of the building represents the mental aspect of Buddha.
There is a two-storied building in the library complex housing the administrative offices, staff accommodations, technical equipments such as computers, special room containing the collection of wood blocks and the microfilm section. Library opens from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm during the weekdays (Monday to Friday) from March to October and 9:30 am to 4:00 pm from November to February. On weekends and government holidays, it remains closed. Anyone can browse through books, magazines and newspapers in the Reading Room but only the members of the library can borrow the books from there and take them out of the building. There are some very old and rare books in the library, which people can access for research work and other academic pursuits.