One of the earliest public libraries in old Rangoon was the Bernard Free Library, so named after the former Commissioner of Lower Burma Sir Charles Edward Bernard. The library was home to a vast collection of books, pre-colonial historical manuscripts and literary works.
The library was located in the current No. 1 Basic Education High School in Latha township. Other prominent libraries at the time were the Rangoon Literary Club Library, the Phayre Museum and the Young Men’s Institute libraries.
The Bernard Free Library was the public library in Burma (now Myanmar), and the forerunner of the National Library of Myanmar.The library was established on 21 February, 1883.Two Burmese gentlemen, U Phoe Myin and U Myo donated palm leaf scriptures and parabaiks (scripts made from paper, cloth or metal and folded like an accordion) which were then valued at around ten thousand kyats.