While limited privately sponsored library facilities were available in Graaff-Reinet from about 1818, it was not until 1847 that the citizens of the town established a public library, subscribing funds to build the central portion of the present building in Church Street. The plot of ground was later donated by the Government. Although initially the lack of adequate funds retarded the growth of the library, it developed over the years into the town’s cultural centre. By 1878 the original building proved inadequate, necessitating the addition of the southern wing. In 1926 the northern wing was added on the site of the old branddam (a stone reservoir kept full of water for use in the event of fire).
This building served the town as its library until 1981 when a modern library was built in Parsonage Street. The municipality donated the old building to the Graaff-Reinet Museum which now uses it to house specialized collections. It was proclaimed a National Monument on 27 February 1987.
In 2005, with the assistance of the National Lottery Distribution fund, the Board of Trustees of the Museum developed the building to include conference facilities and exhibition areas to portray the history of the previously disadvantaged community of Graaff-Reinet.
The building contains the following exhibitions: Karoo Fossils, Slavery – long road to restitution, rock art and artifacts, achievers of Graaff Reinet and the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe display.