The League of Nations librarians in the 1920s

This photograph from the album of the League of Nations staff shows the Library personnel in the Reading Room at Palais Wilson, which was the seat of the League from 1920 to 1936.

As members of the first international civil service, the librarians were mandated to provide the delegates, diplomats and Secretariat staff with information and documentation to support the political and technical activities of the Organization: disarmament, collective security, social and humanitarian affaires, minority rights, health, intellectual cooperation, etc.

In September 1927, as the League of Nations was preparing to construct a new building, the present-day Palais des Nations, the American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. contributed two million dollars to endow the League with a modern library “to serve as a centre of international research and an instrument of international understanding”. His gift made possible the construction of the wing of the building into which the Library was moved in 1936.

Since then, the Library, which became the United Nations Office at Geneva Library in 1946, has continued to achieve the vital purpose envisioned by the philanthropist as he made this gift.  In 2012, the Library dedicated the new League of Nations and United Nations Archives reading room to John D. Rockefeller Jr. in recognition of his vision.

Holding more than one million volumes, including six linear kilometres of League of Nations and UNOG archives, and providing access to thousands of electronic and multimedia resources on all topics relevant to the work of the United Nations, the UNOG Library is the largest in the United Nations system.

Building on its essential role as a modern centre for research and dialogue in international relations, the UNOG Library continues to transform itself into a state-of-the-art digital library while preserving access to the vital legacy of the past.

For more information:

UN Geneva Library & Archives

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