A chained library

During the weekends at the Batavia shipyard Paper Unicorn’s bookbinder Astrid spoke about the idea of making a portable chained library.

For many people this is one of the first things they think about when the subject of medieval books comes up: writing monks, calligraphy, parchment and books on a chain…

One of three chained libraries still in existence is located at the st. Walpurgis Church in Zutphen. The oldest public library in the Netherlands.

The chained library at the st. Walburgis Church in Zuthpen. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

To avoid theft, the books are secured to the desks by chains.

The idea ligered in the back of my mind, and returned when I came across this blog by Ercc Glaison. In a 3-part series he makes a table top book stand and the books too go along with it. Because it’s always better to steal a good idea than re-invent the wheel (better known as ‘inspiration’), I followed his basic design.

Stripping and cutting

A couple of months ago a friend gave me a couple of solid Parana Pine boards, left over from a closet in his house. At first I destined them to make chests, but this will be more useful…

So last friday I stripped the boards of their paint and started cutting. No real plans, just go along with what the boards tell me. A length of 1 meter seems fine, img_4068it will fit most of the tables at the castles and events we visit. Longer is impractical for transport, shorter makes them too small to hold the books.

img_4069The endboard triangles are cut at 60 degrees. In the middle a trefold clover, just for decoration. Inspired by some pictorial sources.

Unlike Ercc I didn’t make the chain myself. Perhaps in the future, but for now we first try a simple decorative chain from the hardware store.


To keep it a bit more transport friendly the library is foldable.


The whole chest was finished with a simple brown beeswax.

We will bring the library to the “Slag bij Heijligerlee” event at the end of may. Details soon to follow…

img_4094

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2 Responses to A chained library

  1. arthurjness says:

    Well, I once taught at a university where the music librarian chained the Harvard Music Dictionary to her desk because it was stolen so frequently. Arthur Ness (Boston)

    Liked by 1 person

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