Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Chained Library at Hereford
The library is perhaps best known for its unique security system. Chaining books was a widespread practice during the Middle Ages, when printed books were priceless and hand-written volumes took years to produce. The Hereford Cathedral library is the largest surviving chained library. The chains, rods, and locks are intact, just as when first utilized.
Chains are attached to the front of the books, and the forepages, instead of the spine, face the front of the shelf. That way, the books can be removed for reading at the desk, without the risk of tangling the chain. The library also has blocks and printing presses from 1611. Music recitals and other cultural events are held there. The library currently serves as a research center for the cathedral, and is a major tourist attraction for the town of Hereford.