Introduction Button Assurbanipal Button Blumberg Button Book Curse Button Damnation in the Curses Button Excommunication in the Curses Button Anathema in the Curses Button Negative Impacts Button Conclusion Button Works Cited Button Image of Old Books

Bibliomania and the Medieval Book Curse

by Sandra Anderson

History is the witness that testifies to the passing of time; it illumines reality, vitalizes memory, provides guidance in daily life and brings us tidings of antiquity.

~ Cicero (106 BC - 43 BC), Pro Publio Sestio


As long as there have been books, there have been bibliomaniacs. In truth, as long as words have been written down, there have been people who have wanted to collect those words. Bibliomania is more than just a desire to collect the written word, however, it is a consuming and obsessive passion to acquire texts. Bibliomaniacs have been both a bane and a blessing to libraries as they have both destroyed and created spectacular collections of books. Many methods have been employed throughout history to protect texts from these voracious collectors: from locking books away to chaining books down. In this web site, I will examine the cases of three bibliomaniacs spread across three millennia of history and discuss bibliomania as an ongoing concern for literate societies. I will also examine book curses as a library security measure that was used as a deterrent against bibliomaniacs for thousands of years but that is almost completely unknown today.




This paper was written by Sandra Anderson for the LIS 586 - History of the Book course at the University of Alberta. It was posted to the web in March 2003 as part of a capping exercise for the completion of my Master of Library and Information Studies degree.