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Zutphen, Netherlands

Librije Chained Library

Unchanged for centuries, this medieval library keeps its books in chains. 

The chained library of St. Walburga’s Church in the center of Zutphen dates to the 16th century, with little altered over the centuries in its naturally-lit reading room.

Dating to 1561, the “Librije” is one of the few surviving chained libraries, a practice of the Middle Ages when libraries were first open to the public, but books were so valuable they were locked in place to keep them from being stolen. Walk along the lecterns of the Librije in Zutphen and you’ll see the leather-bound tomes still attached in the same places as in medieval times, making it the oldest intact library in the Netherlands. 

The church itself dates to the 11th century, and it was partly the religious fervor of the clergy that formed the library. They believed that reading the right books would keep people away from the temptations of the Reformation. But keep an eye on the floor where you’ll find what are said to be the devil’s footprints, which stalked a wayward monk who dared to eat chicken during Lent, and was condemned to a tormented evening locked in the Librije. 

Contributed by
Allison
Edited by