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Adopt a Book - an excellent way to commemorate an occasion, celebrate a milestone or simply share your love of books.

What does it involve?

Adopt a Book offers the opportunity to restore a book from the Cathedral’s unique collection.

Doing this makes it available once again to readers, researchers, historians and the public.

Follow your book’s journey

You will receive updates during the conservation process and we’ll send you a certificate of thanks.

You can also include your own special message on a bookplate which is inserted the book sleeve.

On completion you will receive an invitation to see your restored book in person.

How much does it cost?

Every book available for adoption requires a different level of conservation. Adoption packages start from £50.

Can I adopt a book as a gift?

Yes, it makes a great gift for any keen reader. Just state the name of the recipient on the donation form.

What types of books need help?

The Refectory Library lies in the south cloister of Durham Cathedral. It houses over 30,000 early printed books, dating from the very early sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Subjects include:

  • religion and theology
  • natural history
  • early science
  • mathematics
  • medicine
  • philosophy
  • architecture
  • maps and atlases
  • music
  • local history
  • children’s books

Can I choose which book?

Yes, of course. For the full list please download our Adopt a Book 2018-19 Catalogue (pdf). We’ve identified over 100 books, including:

  • Jan Jansson’s Novus Atlas dating back to 1646
  • A set of first edition Encyclopediè by Diderot, a key text of the Enlightenment
  • The 'Macklin Bible', a beautifully illustrated bible from 1824


How do I adopt a book?

Please note that the Adopt a Book programme will be resting from 1st October 2019 to allow us to focus on pressing work within the Library. If you are interested in Adopting a Book please be in touch before this date.

Simply complete the Adopt a Book donation form (Word document) 
and return it by email to or by post to:

Matthew Kirk
Development Office
Cathedral Office
The College
Durham DH1 3EH

Who restores the books?

We send the books to Carronvale Bindery of Falkirk. They provide a wide range of high quality book and conservation services to customers across the UK.

Established in 1981 by Tom Valentine, a binder with over 50 years’ experience in the field. In 1993 he was joined by his son Louis, who now runs the business.

Past restorations

Discover more about the process in Adopt A Book: Before and After