The Cyprus Library's actual origin dates back to 1927 with the establishment of the Cyprus Public Library on the initiative of the British Colonial Governor Sir Ronald Storrs. It operated under municipal control until 1954. Under the Cyprus Public Library Law of 1968 the Library came under the control of the Ministry of Education and Culture and its collections were merged with those of the Ministry's Library. In 1974 the Library was relocated back to its original premises on the D'Avila Bastion of the Venetian walls of Nicosia. The Cyprus Library was established by law in 1987.
The Cyprus Library was founded with the following objectives in mind:
To secure, process, and make available publications that are produced in Cyprus or have to do with Cyprus.
To promote and encourage the use of the Library services by the public.
To compile and publish the Cyprus Bibliography, both current and retrospective.
To catalogue the resources of the Library and other government libraries.
To provide guidance and assistance to the planning, organization and development of the other libraries in Cyprus.
To administer the Cyprus Registration Centres for books, periodicals and other materials. [The National Centre for ISMN began in 2000].
To operate an interlibrary loan system with other Cypriot libraries and other institutions abroad.
To work for the creation of a union catalogue of the material found in Cypriot libraries.
Even though designed to play the role of a national library, its historical legacy and the absence of strong public libraries in Nicosia have influenced the orientation of the Cyprus Library which functions also as a public library with lending services to its members. For the same reason, the core of collection development has been in the humanities, especially literature, and the social sciences. The Library is an agency under the Ministry of Education and Culture with a Consultative Committee appointed by the Government to provide advice and assistance in the operation and development of the Library.