Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Librije in the St. Walburga's Church

This Library is a unique 16th century public library.  Because of the large collection of books the church owned, it was decided to construct a library.  "There is room for approximately 300 books on the reading desks.  The catalogue contains about 750 titles.  The core of the collection consists of acquisitions ...... in the first half of the 16th century.  Another part of the collection was acquired through legacies.  Particularly in the 15th and 16th century learned inhabitants of Zutphen left their books to the 'Librije'.  After the Reformation books from the dissolved monasteries in and around Zutphen were added to the collection of the 'Librije'.

As you might imagine, in order to preserve these extraordinarily old books, no photos are allowed in the room. There is no artificial lighting allowed. Here is a photo of a photo,
On these reading desks are books with tooled leather covers and silver mountings.  Almost impossible to grasp just how old these books are.  Typically the center of the page had the text and around the text was more text which was the interpretation.  These books included books on reformation theology, law, history and literature, as well as commentaries on the bible, books on the lives of the saints and legal commentaries.  The collection contains 5 manuscripts and 85 books known to be printed before 1500.

But also most unusual is that all of these books are literally chained to the desks.  This is one of only 3  chained libraries - one in Britain and one in Italy, and Zutphen.  They were chained for a very practical reason - at the time of its opening it was open to the general public.  This was extraordinarily unusual, as there were no public libraries.   Anyone could get a key and sit and study the books for as long as the church was open.  The books had to stay.

Needless to say, this was just such an incredible site and hard to imagine just how old these books are.  You feel sure that if the books were opened, they might disintigrate, let alone be touched by human hands, but what a treasure they are.

A couple more photos of photos

Check out one more photo


Petra said...

Thank you for showing me these pictures. We have been to the library in England, Hereford it was, I think. But shame on us, we never went to this place in our own country! I hope that you will have better weather from now on :-) Please say hi from me to Caro.

Laura said...

You two sure know how to find fun even when the weather's miserable. I bet seeing books that old is almost a religious experience. Ahhhh ... the memories you'll have! Thanks for sharing, friend.