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The National Library of the Philippines was established as the Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas through the royal decree of August 12, 1887.

The Library was revived with the donation made by the American Circulating Library Association of its Circulating Library to the government formalized through Public Act No. 96 passed on March 5, 1901. Public Law Act No. 1935, provided for the “the consolidation of all libraries  belonging to any branch of the Philippine government for the creation of the Philippine Library”, and for the maintenance of the same, and other purposes. To carry out the provisions of this law, a Library Board was constituted consisting of the Secretary of the Public Instruction, the Secretary of Interior, the Secretary of Finance and Justice, and the other members to be appointed annually by the Governor General.
In 1916, The Philippine Library, Division of Archives, Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks of the Executive Bureau and the Law Library of the Philippine assembly were merged into one entity, called the Philippine Library and Museum. Twelve years later, the Philippine Legislature separated the museum from the library. Public Law No. 3477 (1928) established the National Museum under the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources and changed the name of the Philippine Library and Museum to The National Library.
The President of the Philippines changed the name of The National Library to Bureau of Public Libraries in accordance with Executive Order No. 94, series 1947. This order was followed by Republic Act No. 411, otherwise known as the Municipal Libraries Law, authored by the then Senator Geronima T. Pecson. Republic Act No. 3873 passed in 1964 brought back to the Bureau of Public Libraries its old name, The National Library. Currently, the library is known as the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) pursuant to Republic Act No. 10087 enacted in May 13, 2010. The NLP is located at T.M. Kalaw Street, Manila.

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