European Chained libraries
European Chained libraries still exist. Books in chains – a way of storing books in public libraries in medieval Europe, where the books were riveted to the shelves. In England, these libraries are called Chained library (e.g. Francis Trigge Chained Library). The chains holding the books were long enough to remove the book from the shelf and read it, but to take the book from the library was forbidden. This practice was common at libraries from the Middle Ages to XVIII century, which was due to a large value of each copy of the book, chains were designed to ensure the safe storage of expensive books.
The circuit was connected to a book by a metal ring inserted into a cover or a corner, as if the chain is attached to the spine of the book, which made it heavy. Books on the chains were put on the shelves in a “wrong way” from the point of view of modern librarian – spines of books on the shelves were not visible. The book was put in such a way so that it could be taken and opened without turning and not getting tangled in chains.
Francis Trigge Chained Library founded in 1598 in the town of Grantham (Lincolnshire), is the oldest library of this kind. The to access to the books was allowed to people not related to the clergy or education. The Library still exists, and may be called the forerunner of the modern system of public libraries. Another example of a library that existed separately from the educational institution, church or monastery, founded in 1701 in Dublin – Marsh’s Library. Library is still located in the same building, where it was founded. In the Marsh’s Library books were not chained – instead the reader there was locked in a cage.
These photographs are taken in 16th-century chained library of Zutphen, in the east of the Netherlands. Some books have been chained to the reading desks since the time of foundation. In medieval times the Chapter of the St. Walburga’s Church consisted of 12 canons.
Do you see footprints on the floor? According to legend, the priest found the devil who tried to steal the book. Nobody can say exactly whom these prints belong – to a dog or to a devil, it’s up to you.