Founded in 1812, the State Library of North Carolina is the primary repository for all state publications. It is a division of the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources and also contains numerous other state-related materials including genealogical records, general publications and records (biographies, fiction, children's books, and others related to the state), newspapers, rare books, reference materials, and DVDs and videos. The library also contains Federal records, as it is a part of the Federal Depository Library Program. Another important function of the library is to serve the blind and physically handicapped, providing them with books, magazines and other publications in braille, large print or audio books.
The building also houses the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, which was established in 1903. Its mission is to collect and preserve state-related historical materials, publish scholarly works using its collection, and protect and identify historic sites and properties. The Archives is comprised of four departments: collection services, government records, digital services, and special collections. It contains over 50,000 linear feet of material, the oldest of which dates back to Colonial times.
Although the library was established in 1812, its primary function was to serve the needs of the state legislature. The public was allowed access to the reference section beginning in 1845 and open circulation was in effect from the 1870s-1880s. It was not until 1909, with the establishment of the North Carolina Library Commission, that the state began to take the lead on establishing a statewide library system. The State Library and the Commission merged in 1945 to create the current State Library agency.