Argentina's National Library was created in 1810 through a decree made by the first independent national government. The institution moved to this building, which had originally been planned as the headquarters for the national lottery, in 1901. The beaux-arts construction was the work of Italian architect Carlos Morra.
The Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges served as director of the institution between 1955 and 1973. He had already lost his eyesight when he assumed the position, causing him to write the poem Poema de los dones (Poem about Gifts), whose first verse reads:
Let none think that I by tear or reproach make light
Of this manifesting the mastery
Of God, who with excelling irony
Gives me at once both books and night.
In 1992, the National Library moved to its current location in Recoleta.