Historic Libraries: Chained Books in the St. Walburga’s Church Librije


The Librije is a classic example of a lectern system gothic library. This public library was a 16th century addition to the 12th century St. Walburga’s Church in Zutphen, Netherlands. The building and the interior of the library, which looks like rows of pews in the chapel, have remained largely unchanged since their inception.

Zutphen Librije 011

Image Courtesy of Jim Forest via flickr


The Librije is one of only five intact chained libraries in the world, complete with original books, chains, rods and furniture. Chains may seem an odd accoutrement to contemporary library patrons, but were a strong impediment to medieval thieves. During the middle ages, more and more people wanted to read, but lacked the necessary resources to buy books of their own. Chained books allowed libraries to open to the public while still locking valuable books in place.


Image Courtesy of Jim Forest via flickr


Metal clasps secure each book, usually on the back cover. A metal rod was slipped through the book chains and then secured to the lectern.


Image Courtesy of Jim Forest via flickr

The lecterns were carefully positioned in a near perpendicular line to the windows, to maximize viewing in the natural light.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s