view of lake Bolsema

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The Montefiascone Conservation Project was originally conceived in order to save the virtually derelict library of the Seminario Barbarigo. This late medieval library contains not only the collection of Cardinal Barbarigo, but also other important books including some unique editions. This library is important to the history of the town, and is especially relevant to those interested in the history of the book.


In 1987 Cheryl Porter, a book conservator, invited Nicolas Barker, then Head of Special Collections at the British Library, to appraise the collection. In the summer of 1998, a group from the British Library and students from Camberwell College of Arts began to work in the library. Subsequently many conservators from across the world have come to help with the preservation and conservation of the library and its collections. Soon the archive and the furnishings and fabric of the library itself became a part of the on-going work. A cataloging programme was begun and continues each summer, with tuition available to those who want to learn the basics of cataloguing rare books and manuscripts.

In 2008 Cheryl and Nicolas were interviewed for The Book Show on ABC Radio National.

Download the radio programme (.mp3 18MB)


In 1992 a programme of summer schools was established, and this continues to run in parallel with the library project. The classes provide an opportunity for librarians, conservators, cataloguers, bibliographers and those interested in the history and conservation of books, to assemble once a year to study one or more of the four, week-long courses. Many new acquaintances and friendships have been established as a result of these meetings, and knowledge and skills have been generously disseminated by masters in the field.