Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reading Monk

A Christian monk
 animation.
Description of the animation: a patient monk is seated on a low wooden stool reading an ancient text and blinking, Christian monks are often depicted in both modern times and ancient as being closely associated with books. This is because they have preserved and copied them for centuries.

Did You Know? In the Early Middle Ages, monastery libraries developed, such as the important one at the Abbey of Montecassino in Italy. Books were usually chained to the shelves, reflecting the fact that manuscripts, which were created via the labor-intensive process of hand copying, were valuable possessions.
       Despite this protectiveness, many libraries loaned books if provided with security deposits (usually money or a book of equal value). Lending was a means by which books could be copied and spread. In 1212 the council of Paris condemned those monasteries that still forbade loaning books, reminding them that lending is "one of the chief works of mercy." The early libraries located in monastic cloisters and associated with scriptoria were collections of lecterns with books chained to them. Shelves built above and between back-to-back lecterns were the beginning of bookpresses. The chain was attached at the fore-edge of a book rather than to its spine. Book presses came to be arranged in carrels (perpendicular to the walls and therefore to the windows) in order to maximize lighting, with low bookcases in front of the windows. This "stall system" (i.e. fixed bookcases perpendicular to exterior walls pierced by closely spaced windows) was characteristic of English institutional libraries. In European libraries, bookcases were arranged parallel to and against the walls. This "wall system" was first introduced on a large scale in Spain's El Escorial.
       Also, in Eastern Christianity monastery libraries kept important manuscripts. The most important of them were the ones in the monasteries of Mount Athos for Orthodox Christians, and the library of the Saint Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt for the Coptic Church.

"Fred de Sam Lazaro tells the story of one Minnesota 
monastery's mission to preserve sacred religious texts from deterioration."