The ‘Librije’ is a unique 16th century public library in the St. Walburga’s Church in Zutphen. The Church itself dates from the 11th century. The building and the interior of the library have remained almost unchanged throughout the ages. The greater part of the original collection of books is still in situ... Some books have been chained to the reading desks since the time of foundation...More information here, and more pix here. Via Erik Kwakkel.
The reason for chaining the books was a purely practical one. The ‘Librije’ was open to the general public. Anyone could obtain a key and sit and study the books for as long as the church was open. But the books had to stay where they belonged…
Particularly in the 15th and 16th century learned inhabitants of Zutphen left their books to the ‘Librije’. After the Reformation books from the dissolved monastries in and around Zutphen were added to the collection... The present collection contains books on theology, law, history and literature – works by Church Fathers, medieval commentaries on the bible, books on the lives of saints, legal commentaries, classical writers like Virgil, Horatius, Seneca, Homer and Herodotus and humanistic authors like the Dutch scholar Erasmus. The collection contains 5 manuscripts and 85 incunabula (books printed before 1500).
Addendum from a comment by reader Mel V:
The brass knobs and the clasps were for practical reasons, not decorative ones. Unlike modern books that would lie flat, the older ones would gape open unless they were latched. Latching them tightly helped preserve the shape of the pages and spine. The knobs are from an era when books would have been laid flat on shelves instead of stacked on edge. The raised metal protected the leather covers, presumably from being scuffed by the shelf and to make sure there was no moisture trapped between the cover and shelf. It'd be overkill for today's books, but when a book represented thousands of hours of a scribe's work and was expected to last for several hundred years, it starts to make sense.