The library was established in 1926 as the Legislative Assembly Library, with a core collection from the German colonial Bibliothek des Kaiserlichen Gouvernements.  It resorted under the clerk of the Legislative Assembly and received professional guidance from the South African Library of Parliament. It became the South West Africa (SWA) Administration Library in 1957, and in 1960, the Department of Education took over the responsibility for the library.


The Administration Library served as the reference and subject library for the Legislative Assembly, the Secretariat, and the departments of the administration. The first qualified librarian was appointed in 1965, when the library was open for public use.  The Administration Library, within the newly established SWA Library Service and reporting to the Director of Education, was housed in the Tintenpalast.


In July 1980, the SWA Library Service, including the Administration Library, became part of the newly established Division for Cultural Promotion of the Administration for Whites as stipulated by Proclamation AG8. All the public libraries and the Administration Library became part of the second-tier government. In October 1984, the Library moved to the Estorff House and was renamed the Estorff Reference Library.  It focused on providing reference, inter-lending and professional services to the general public.


In 1990 following Namibia’s attainment of independence, the library was placed under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport with the intention of developing a national library.  On April 1, 1994, the Estorff Reference Library officially became the National Library of Namibia and is now part of the Ministry of Education under the Directorate of the National Library and Archives Services. The National Library stopped activities in the Estorff House on February 24, 2000 and reopened in the new building (between Kenya House and Trustco) the day before Namibia’s 10th independence celebrations on March 21, 2000.