The National Library of Latvia is a national cultural institution under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia. Its current main building is known as the Castle of Light (Latvian: Gaismas pils). The National Library of Latvia was formed in 1919 after the independent Republic of Latvia was proclaimed in 1918. The first supervisor of the Library was Jānis Misiņš, a librarian and the founder of the Latvian scientific bibliography (1862–1945). The current building was designed in 1989 by noted Latvian-American architect Gunnar Birkerts (1925–2017), who emigrated to the United States and made his career there. It was constructed in the early 21st century and opened in 2014. Today the Library plays an important role in the development of Latvia's information society, providing Internet access to residents and supporting research and lifelong education.
Originated from a small fishermen village, for centuries Riga has been an important part of the trade chain between Russia and Western Europe. A lively crossroad of cultures and backgrounds for over 800 years, the historical centre of Riga has accumulated an impressive cultural baggage and today is justly included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage list.