The National and University Library "St. Kliment Ohridski" in Skopje was one of the first national institutions to be formed by the Parliament (ASNOM) of the young Macedonian state on the 23rd November, 1944.

The rich library tradition on the soil of the Republic of Macedonia whose roots stretch back to the deeds of the pan-Slavonic educators St. Cyril (826-869) and St. Methodius (820-885) is the same foundation on which the Library began to build up and develop its activity. Its patron saint, Clement of Ohrid (830-916), established the first monastic library in Ohrid in the Monastery of St. Panteleimon, and he is thus the founder of librarianship in these parts.

The initial fund of books in the National and University Library "St. Kliment Ohridski" at its foundation in 1944 amounted to some 150,000 library items. The majority of these were inherited from the Central Library of the pre-war Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, founded in 1920 in Skopje.

Besides the holdigns, the National and University Library "St. Kliment Ohridski" also inherited the modest premises of the Central Library of the Faculty of Philosophy, located in the central city area, on the left bank of the River Vardar. The Library was open with 50 places for readers and 12 employees.

The documents which are of significance in confirming the status of the National Library of Macedonia were the ASNOM Decision of 18th January 1945 concerning the statutory depositing of an obligatory copy of all books published in Macedonia and the Decision of the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia (8th February 1945) concerning the statutory depositing of a copy of all books published in Yugoslavia. Thus the National and Univesrity Library became national deposit library and one of the eight Yugoslav deposit libraries. Since 1991 after the gaining of independece by the Republic of Macedonia, the Yugoslav deposit has not been included in the Library's holdings.

In addition to its main functions as a national library, tha National and University Library is a general scientific and scholarly library of the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje as formally sanctioned by the 1960 Libraries Act of the People's Republic of Macedonia.

After the Faculty of Philosophy moved to new premises in 1952 the Library took over the entire premises of its previous building. The premises were adapted which meant a significant improvement in the Library's working conditions and possibilities for development. It now had at its disposal 6,500 sq.m. which gave the opportunity to organise and set out the stock of books adequately, to increase the number of places for readers from 50 to 250 and to improve work conditions. During this period the activities of the Library were enhanced and new services were established which completed the organisation of its work according to the customary patterns of national and university libraries: bibliographical service for preparation of the national bibliography (1949); protection of the library material service (1953); the central library headquaters (1954).

The flood of November 1962 and shortly afterwards that the catastrophic earthquake of 26th July 1963 were unwelcome events which harshly and cruelly interrupted the Library's development. The building was virtually completely destroyed and its stock of books, which at that time ammounted to about 500,000, was in large measure either utterly destroyed or badly damaged.

In the first days after the earthquake some of the books were saved from the ruins and evacuated to Daut Pasha's Bath (Daut Pasin Amam). Soon afterwards, at the beginning of 1964, they were removed from there and housed in custom-built prefabricated buildings. The construction of the prefabricated buildings, with a total area of 1750 sq. m. of which 1200 were storage space, enabled the Libary to continue with its work. The Library functioned on that site and in those restricted conditions for some eight years, until its removal to its new building in 1972. It was during this period that the separate collections were established as well as the microfilm laboratory (1966) and the conservation and restoration laboratory (1970). In 1966 a separate bibliographical information service was incorporated into the organisational framework of the Library. On the basis of the experience of this service the Referral Centre was later formed, in 1976, and a start made on the automation of work processes.

Eight directors have been in charge of the Library in the course of the past 50 years. In 1944 Prof. Dr. Gerogi Shoptrajanov was appointed the Library's first director and remained in the post until 1946. There then followed: Emanuel Cuckov (1946/47), Epaminonda Popandonov (1948/51), Mitko Zafirovski (1951/72), Dr. Ivan Katardzhiev (1972/78), Dimitar Solev (1978/87), Vase Mancev, M.A. (1987/94), Vera Kalajlievska (1994/99), Mladen Srbinovski (1999/99). The present Director of the Library, appointed in November 1999, is Paskal Gilevski, M.A.

For its contributions to the scientific, scholarly, cultural and overall social development of the Republic of Macedonia the Library has to date received numerous public awards and tokens of recognition, among which are: the Order of Service to the People with silver rays (1972), the 11th October Award, the highest public recognition for particularly significant achievements in the field of science and scholarship in the interest of the Republic Macedonia (1975), the Clement of Ohrid Award (1984) and the Diploma for Culture (1984).

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