CalRBS International
A Crossroad of Global Print History
Italy, 2023

Instructor(s): Robert D. Montoya, Sean Pessin, Paul Vangelisti
Program Manager: Liza Mardoyan
Dates: June 21 – July 6
Location(s): ITALY — Roma, Firenze, Bologna, Castel Maggiore, Cornuda, Venezia
Capacity: 20 participants (extended until April 15, 2023)
Tuition: $3,750.00 USD (all available scholarships have been awarded)

Course Information

Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis, with applications closing on March 15, 2023, or when the course reaches capacity. We will then begin a wait list in the order accepted applications are received. 


CalRBS International is a one-of-a kind continuing education experience that immerses participants in book and library history through unique itineraries abroad. CalRBS International is part seminar, historical immersion, hands-on craft-making, and multi-city tour. By immersing participants in international spaces, the intention of CalRBS International is to enrich historical understandings of book and library history by learning the living, contemporary trends in book and artifact collecting, artisanship, publishing, and institutional programming.

We will visit cities of significant import to the global history of books and libraries, while also examining how these histories speak through the present by visiting bookbinders, papermakers, library collectors, printers, and the like. Participants can expect tours of sites in and around Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Venice, where we will explore book and library history, interspersed with seminar-style discussions, hands-on opportunities to participate in local craft-making, and visiting world-renown library and artifact collections. We will bring you, the participant, to living history as it exists outside the boundaries of the classroom. Along the way, we will meet craft-makers, experience lectures by subject specialists, and enjoy the local cuisines and antiquarian marketplaces of these vibrant cities. And above all, you will travel with participants that share an equal fascination and fondness for a uniquely immersive education in what CalRBS knows best: rare books, librarianship, archives, and manuscripts.


A detailed syllabus will be provided to enrolled participants. The program will focus on the history and contemporary state of librarianship, rare books, and publishing in Italy. A required reading list will also be provided. The course will be designed with clear learning objectives and outcomes and will involve an ongoing collaborative maker project that will serve as a memento or souvenir of the trip. Multiple lectures will be offered throughout the itinerary to contextualize our travels and discuss the historical implications of Italian manuscript and print culture.  

Learning Objectives:

By the end of this class, students will develop their abilities to: 

  • Describe the development of print and information culture in Central and Northern Italy from 14c to present 
  • Explore the role Italy has played to diasporic communities from the 15c onward
  • Examine Italian print history from a global perspective, with a special emphasis on its contribution to foreign cultural communities
  • Identify historical and current practitioners in Italian print and visual culture throughout the communications circuit 
  • Interview international working groups on values, practices, and struggles in administering library and archives spaces 
  • Compare and contrast styles of American and European approaches to librarianship and archival work
  • Link economies of creating, distributing, selling, collecting, curating, and conserving print objects 
  • Collaborate with type historians, type designers, typesetters, and printers to produce a variety of print culture objects using several print media and techniques

Cost: $3,750/participant, which includes a welcome dinner, lodging in Cornuda and Venice, and a final dinner. 

Participants are responsible for airfare, meals, incidentals, and lodging in Rome, Florence, and Bologna. Full and partial scholarships will be available. We have negotiated lower rates for some lodging in Rome, Florence, and Bologna on a first come first served basis. 

Trip Map

2023 Itinerary

(sites and curricula subject to change)

(sites currently pending confirmation will be added as they are confirmed)

June 21–24 Rome

  • National Central Library of Rome

June 24–27 Florence

  • Opera del Duomo Museum
  • Uffizi Library

June 27–30 Bologna

  • Archiginnasio di Bologna
  • University of Bologna Library
  • Frati e Livi

June 30–July 3 Cornuda

  • Tipoteca Type and Printing Museum
  • 2-day fine press printing workshop at Tipoteca

July 3–6 Venice 

  • Fondazione Cini
  • San Lazzaro (Armenian Archive and Museum)

Pictures from Italy, 2022