Until a few decades ago many public lending libraries carried certain books which were not made available to the general public -- erotica and controversial political tracts, for example.

In a Dutch book about libraries I encountered the word "gifkastje" -- literally "poison cupboard" -- for the location of such books and I wondered if there was an English term for it.

  • 2
    "Restricted", "closed shelf", etc. Several terms, and generally the category included not simply obscene or inflammatory works, but also works that were exceedingly valuable, and sometimes works that were considered "confidential" by either the government or some other corporation or agency providing them on restricted terms.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 29, 2015 at 22:51

2 Answers 2


In the US (at least) the term commonly used is

closed-stack [klohzd-stak]
adjective, Library Science.
1. having access to the stacks limited to the staff of the library or to a limited group of library users.
Also, closed-shelf

[closed-stack. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/closed-stack (accessed: November 29, 2015).]


I would call them "Closed shelves".

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