Libraries have always been places for the organising and stewarding of texts, ancient and medieval. Medieval libraries were arranged according to a hierarchy of learning that was widely understood and accepted across Europe. Such libraries were institutional and normally belonged to religious houses and larger ecclesiastical bodies. Practices for curating the collections varied depending on local circumstances: a monastery might hold separate collections, one to be centrally accessible, another for distribution to monks for private reading. The principle was imitated in the universities, where colleges established chained collections for reference and a circulating or ‘electio’ stock for loan. Libraries were endangered whenever the parent institution was threatened. Every country in Europe suffered secularisations and closures of libraries, at different times and with different results. To understand reception, the student needs to know something of how books from medieval libraries have come into the possession of the modern collections they now inhabit.