Philobiblion, by Richard de Bury

Chapter XIX

Of the Manner of Lending All Our Books to Students

It has ever been difficult so to restrain men by the laws of rectitude, that the astuteness of successors might not strive to transgress the bounds of their predecessors, and to infringe established rules in insolence of licence. Accordingly, with the advice of prudent men, we have prescribed the manner in which we desire that the communication and use of our books should be permitted for the benefit of students.

Imprimis, we give and grant all and singular the books, of which we have made a special catalogue, in consideration of affection, to the community of scholars living in —— Hall at Oxford, as a perpetual gift, for our soul and the souls of our parents, and also for the soul of the most illustrious King Edward the Third from the Conquest, and of the most pious Queen Philippa, his consort: to the intent that the same books may be lent from time to time to all and singular the scholars and masters of the said place, as well regular as secular, for the advancement and use of study, in the manner immediately following, that is to say:

Five of the scholars sojourning in the Hall aforesaid shall be appointed by the Master thereof, who shall have the charge of all the books, of which five persons three and not fewer may lend any book or books for inspection and study; but for copying or transcribing we direct that no book shall be allowed outside the walls of the house. Therefore, when any scholar secular or religious, whom for this purpose we regard with equal favour, shall seek to borrow any book, let the keepers diligently consider if they have a duplicate of the said book, and if so, let them lend him the book, taking such pledge as in their judgment exceeds the value of the book delivered, and let a record be made forthwith of the pledge and of the book lent, containing the names of the persons delivering the book and of the person who receives it, together with the day and year when the loan is made.

But if the keepers find that the book asked for is not in duplicate, they shall not lend such book to any one whomsoever, unless he shall belong to the community of scholars of the said Hall, unless perhaps for inspection within the walls of the aforesaid house or Hall, but not to be carried beyond it.

But to any of the scholars of the said Hall, any book may be lent by three of the aforesaid keepers, after first recording, however, his name, with the day on which he receives the book. Nevertheless, the borrower may not lend the book entrusted to him to another, except with the permission of three of the aforesaid keepers, and then the name of the first borrower being erased, the name of the second with the time of delivery is to be recorded.

Each keeper shall take an oath to observe all these regulations when they enter upon the charge of the books. And the recipients of any book or books shall thereupon swear that they will not use the book or books for any other purpose but that of inspection or study, and that they will not take or permit to be taken it or them beyond the town and suburbs of Oxford.

Moreover, every year the aforesaid keepers shall render an account to the Master of the House and two of his scholars whom he shall associate with himself, or if he shall not be at leisure, he shall appoint three inspectors, other than the keepers, who shall peruse the catalogue of books, and see that they have them all, either in the volumes themselves or at least as represented by deposits. And the more fitting season for rendering this account we believe to be from the First of July until the festival of the Translation of the Glorious Martyr S. Thomas next following.

We add this further provision, that anyone to whom a book has been lent, shall once a year exhibit it to the keepers, and shall, if he wishes it, see his pledge. Moreover, if it chances that a book is lost by death, theft, fraud, or carelessness, he who has lost it or his representative or executor shall pay the value of the book and receive back his deposit. But if in any wise any profit shall accrue to the keepers, it shall not be applied to any purpose but the repair and maintenance of the books.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/bury/richard/philo/chapter19.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31