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.

Librije

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.

Librije:

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.

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