Coyote Mercury

words, birds and whatever else by James Brush

Curse Against Book Stealers

While browsing the local blogs, I came across the looney bin and this delicious little warning:

For him that stealeth a Book from this Library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him be struck with Palsy, and all his Members blasted. Let him languish in Pain crying aloud for Mercy and let there be no sur-cease to his Agony till he sink in Dissolution. Let Bookworms gnaw his Entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final Punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him for ever and aye.

–Curse against book stealers, Monastery of San Pedro, Barcelona

It seems these monks didn’t mess around with library fines, opting instead to get downright medieval, which seems appropriate as they were medieval monks and all.

When I googled the curse itself searching for a source, I found it included in an interesting list of quotes about libraries and librarians on the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions website.

I think I’ll have to post a copy over the library in my classroom.


  1. And yet a part of me thinks if only I had students who were motivated enough to steal a book.

  2. Honestly, I thought the same thing.

  3. Plus you can’t have Abbie Hoffman in your library or folks get conflicting messages.

  4. Conflict is what makes literature so fun.

  5. I love that quote. The Herb Bar has a sweet little sign written in calligraphy that reads:

    Remember, you can’t heal if you steal.

    I once had someone steal a buddha statue from my back yard. That seemed truly ironic.

  6. Obviously not someone interested in Karma.

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