Introducing CalRBS International!
Kicking off Summer 2022 in Northern Italy

The application period has closed and the program capacity has been met. If you missed this year, keep an eye out for information on our 2023 destination, which we will post soon!

Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis, with applications closing on March 1, 2022, 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 history of books, publishing, 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 significant to 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.

In Summer of 2022, participants will have the opportunity to explore the historical and contemporary cultures of bookmaking, printing, library collecting, and papermaking in Northern Italy. Sites of particular interest will include Modena, Bologna, Fabriano, Treviso, and Reggio Emilia. 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 Northern 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.

Learning Objectives:

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

  • Describe the development of print and information culture in Northern Italy from 14c to present
  • Identify historical and current practitioners in Northern Italian print and visual culture throughout the communications circuit
  • Interview international working groups on values, practices, and struggles in administering public and private library and archive spaces
  • Compare and contrast styles of American and European approaches to public librarianship and archival work, as well as the production of artist books
  • Link economies of creating, distributing, selling, collecting, curating, and conserving print objects
  • Debate issues in community co-constituted library spaces
  • Collaborate with type historians, type designers, typesetters, and printers to produce a variety of print culture objects using several print media and techniques


June 24 – Arrival in Modena

June 25 – Visit the Cathedral, Biblioteca Poletti & Bibiloteca Estense

Modena’s Cathedral (Il Duomo di Modena), begun in the 11th century and finally consecrated in the late 12th century, is one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in Europe, as well as being designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Carved into the cathedral’s exterior is a visual “encyclopedia” of the then known world. 

The Biblioteca Estense was the family library of the dukes of Este, originating in Ferrara in the 14th century and, with the Duke’s transfer to Modena in the 16th century, was established in Modena at the beginning of the 17th century. The Estense houses one of the most important historical collections in Italy. A separate collection within the Estense Library, the Biblioteca Poletti is a noted archive of art and architecture, as well as one of Italy’s most active venues for artist’s books.  

June 26 – Antiquarian market & afternoon seminar

Held once monthly in Modena’s central Piazza Grande in front of the cathedral, the mercato d’antiquariato is a weekend affair which brings together antique dealers in furniture, rugs, books and silverware from all of Northern Italy. 

June 27 –Bologna: Archiginnasio Municipal Library & Visit to Workshop of Frati & Livi & Presentation at Infoshop Bookstore 

Commissioned by Pope Pius !V in 1562 and completed in 1563 to create a single building to house the major faculties of the university (law, philosophy, medicine, mathematics, natural science and physics). At the start of the 19th century the university moved to Piazza Poggi and by 1833 the site became Bologna’s Archiginnasio Municipal Library. Its holdings of some 850,000 volumes include 2,000 incunabula, about 15,000 16th century editions and many manuscripts and drawings.

The afternoon will be spent in a tour of the workshop of Piero Livi, one of Europe’s preeminent book restorers. Demonstrations will be included of Livi’s innovative use of science & technology to restore books, documents and manuscripts severely damaged floods and biological contamination. 

Infoshop bookstore event with small press publishers.

June 28 – Edizioni Galleria Mazzoli and Roberto Gatti Editore (Modena)

The Emilio Mazzoli Gallery, which for the last two decades has published collaborations by internationally known artists and poets, also holds a fine collection of 19th & 20th century poetry first editions. One of the Mazzoli Gallery’s most recent projects is a deluxe edition of Carlo Collodi’s Le avventure di Pinnochio. 

For some thirty years, Roberto Gatti has been one of Italy’s finest lithographers and publishers of limited editions, specializing in text & image collaborations. Our visit will encompass both print-works and the exhibition gallery, as well as a lithography demonstration by artist Giuliano Della Casa. 

June 29 – Fabriano Paper (Fabriano) 

Fabriano is one of the oldest and most renowned paper makers in Europe, whose water color paper has been a professional standard for centuries. The Paper and Watermark Museum in the town of Fabriano is inspired by the local paper making traditions documented since the 12th century. 

June 30-July 2 – Tipoteca: Museum of Printing & Typographic Design (Treviso) 

Established in 1995, Tipoteca encourages the dialogue between past and present, focusing on the foremost cultural revolution of the last five centuries: printing. Not just a museum, but also an archive, library, print shop, gallery and educational center, Tipoteca offers visitors the chance to discover and experience the beauty of letterpress. All the equipment in use are original: hand presses, movable types, type cases and composing sticks. Included are two days of workshops in all aspects of book making.

July 3 – Return to Modena & Afternoon Seminar 

July 4 – Parma: Bodoni Museum & Chourmo Enolibreria

Dedicated to pioneering typographer & printer Giambattista Bodoni  (1740–1813), The Bodoni Museum is located in Parma’s celebrated Palazzo della Pilotta. The museum houses thousands of rare volumes, extensive correspondence and the typographic tools of Bodoni’s Printing Office. The collection dedicated to the history of the book, comprising both manuscripts and printed editions. 

Chourmo bookstore and wine bar event with publishers.

July 5 – Archivio Panizzi (Reggio Emilia) & Cavriago Municipal Library 

An excursion to the nearby city of Reggio Emilia, one of the most progressive communities in Italy, will focus on the library as civic institution and responsibility. Located in the Biblioteca Panizzi, named after the city’s noted librarian and 19th century director of the British Museum Library, Antonio (Sir Anthony) Panizzi, the Archivio specializes in artist’s books and avant-garde publications. We will also visit the municipal library in the nearby Cavriago, a model for small town lending libraries. 

July 6– Departure from Modena 

Cost: $2,000/participant, plus airfare, hotel, meals, and incidentals. Scholarships will be available.

Capacity: There are 20 spots available in this course. Remaining spots: 0 of 20.

Follow this link for Travel and Accommodation Information


Robert D. Montoya, Director, International Core Faculty, CalRBS
Sean E. Pessin (CalRBS International Core Faculty)
Paul Vangelisti

Modena - Wikipedia