The Chained Books of Zutphen

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7th Jun, 2013

A spot of ‘book p0rn’ for you on this fine Friday, which takes us to the 16th-century chained library of Zutphen, in the east of the Netherlands.

Photos by Eric Wakkel

No need for a library card here, the Zutphen hasn’t updated its system for more than 550 years! Each book is fitted with a metal clasp to which a metal chain is attached and strung through a metal rod. The rod is locked in place to the bookcase. During the middle ages, people were starting to get the hang of the whole ‘reading thing’ but many couldn’t afford to buy their own books, which were very expensive at that time….

With the valuable collections locked to the lecterns, the public could come in and have free access without the risk of theft– kind of like a medieval Apple store!

In the floor under the reading desks there are tracks that are said to be the Devil’s footprints. “According to a poem by the 19th century poet A.C.W. Staring, the Devil caught the monk Jaromir eating a chicken in the ‘Librije’ during Lent! The Devil punished Jaromir by locking him up in the ‘Librije’ for one night.”

They look suspiciously more like doggy paw prints to me though…

Zutphen is one of three chained libraries still in existence in Europe (see the Library in Hereford, England and the Malatestiana Library, Cesena Italy.

Chained Books

via Book P0rn

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