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Our Mandate & History

Library reading room
© UN Photo

"A highly specialized international library of unique character…”

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library provides research and information services to support the participation of Member States at the United Nations. Located at UN Headquarters in New York, the Library primarily serves delegates of Permanent Missions and UN Secretariat staff.

From the inception of library services at the United Nations in 1946, the UN General Assembly:

Recognized that the central role of the Library as a vital tool for delegations and for the Secretariat in the execution of their tasks would, if properly implemented, ensure the creation of a highly specialized international library of unique character (A/4231).

The planning of a Library at UN Headquarters began with the planning of the United Nations itself. The UN Preparatory Commission, in a 1945 report, stated that the "department of Conference Services would include … a library with research and reference facilities" (PC/20).

The General Assembly defined the Library’s basic responsibility as follows:

The Library’s primary function is to enable the delegations, Secretariat and other official groups of the Organization to obtain, with the greatest possible speed, convenience and economy, the library materials and information needed in the execution of their duties. The materials to be assembled and the services to be maintained will be determined by the needs of these groups (A/C.5/298).

In 1959, the Ford Foundation gave an award of $6.2 million to the United Nations toward the construction of a new Library building in New York to replace the Library’s inadequate space.  On 16 November 1961, shortly after the death of Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld, the newly-completed building was named the Dag Hammarskjöld Library in honour of his commitment to the creation of a beautiful and modern space for the Library.

Today, the Dag Hammarskjöld Library pays tribute to the legacy of our namesake through the support of the men and women working for peace at the United Nations.