Pre-1972 Reader’s Card No. 2238 issued to Hữu Tuấn Nguyễn
Thư viện Quốc Gia in Saigon (National Library in Saigon)
Occupying the site of the old Maison Centrale de Saigon (Khám Lớn Sài Gòn), a much-maligned and overcrowded penal facility built in 1865, construction of the National Library building, designed by Vietnamese architect, Bùi Quang Hanh, began in December of 1968. The cornerstone was laid by South Vietnamese Premier Trần Văn Hương (1903–1982). Considered by many to be the height of the war in Vietnam, the 1968 cornerstone ceremony became an opportunity for Premier Hương to announce that there would be no ceasefire with North Vietnam.
Built in a mid century modernist style and costing more than 130 million piastres ($400,000 USD), and the new library building was inaugurated by South Vietnamese President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, in a ceremony held on December 23, 1971. During that ceremony, Thiệu took the opportunity to share his confidence in South Vietnam with reporters.
After the reunification of North and South Việt Nam, the National Library in Saigon was integrated into the national library system of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam, and renamed Thư viện Quốc gia II, Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh (the National Library II in Hồ Chí Minh City. Shortly after, in 1976, the library was renamed Thư viện Khoa học Tổng hợp, Thành Phố Hồ Chí Minh (Hồ Chí Minh City General Sciences Library), the name by which it is known today.