It is a Carnegie library built with the financial resources donated by businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie via the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. After World War I, Belgrade was one of three "front-line" cities, badly damaged in the war, which were given a Carnegie library, the other two being Reims in France (which received a city library) and Leuven in Belgium (which received a university library). Belgrade's university library is the only Carnegie library in Central and Eastern Europe.
The Belgrade University Library is the largest university library in the country with 1.5 million items. It is the central library of the University of Belgrade, but it also serves as a base of all other Serbian higher education libraries. Universities, research institutes and other groups can become members on application. The library is well known as a national library owing to its extensive Serbian collection, but it also includes a wide range of international scholarly collections.
The Library was established in 1921, although it is the successor of the Belgrade Higher School library, established in 1844. The current building is home to the Library since 1926.