Curator of Rare Books

Washington University in St. Louis in Missouri

Deadline Open until filled
Date Posted July 26, 2014
Type Administrative
Salary Competitive
Employment Type Full-time

The Washington University Libraries is currently seeking candidates for Curator of Rare Books. The Curator of Rare Books is responsible for stewardship and promotion of the Washington University Libraries' Rare Books collections. This position oversees the operations of the unit, and, under the direction of the Director of Special Collections, engages in strategic planning and delivery of services supporting the use of collections in research, teaching and scholarship.






Works with the Director of Special Collections, faculty, and WUSTL Libraries staff to articulate, sustain and assess a vision for the responsible stewardship and innovative use of the WUSTL Libraries' Rare Books collections. Manages professional and support staff, plus student workers, who support the acquisition, processing, cataloging, digitization, exhibition, research and instructional outreach of rare books throughout the WUSTL Libraries system. Initiates stacks maintenance tasks, inventory projects and conservation assessments. Develops and advances the Libraries' rare books collections and develops strategic plans for staff and resources in collaboration with stakeholders.


Research and Reference Services

Supports multi-disciplinary research, instruction and scholarship through enhanced reference services to students, faculty and staff of Washington University, and other researchers locally, nationally and internationally. Provides research support to the University's undergraduate and graduate student populations through in-class instruction sessions and one-on-one consultation. Develops and maintains plans and services for integrating materials from the Libraries' rare books collections into curriculum. Maintains reference policies collaboratively with other Libraries' Special Collections unit heads.



Collection Development

Actively engages with faculty and specialists on campus to align collection development and collection access with the University's academic mission. Works with Director of Special Collections, faculty and other stakeholders to identify collecting priorities and new areas of collection development. Maintains collection development and related policies in coordination with other Special Collections unit heads.



Outreach and Professional Service

Works with the Libraries' promotional departments and Special Collections staff to deliver effective outreach programming around the rare books collections for campus and community initiatives. Leads in the development of physical and online exhibitions featuring rare books.  Participates in library-wide activities or projects through service on library and university committees and working groups. Represents Washington University within professional and scholarly communities related to rare books.




Works with the Director of Special Collections, Libraries' staff and campus partners to develop grant proposals and participate in other funding opportunities. Cultivates relationships with donors and program officers.


For additional information on collections strengths, research services, and resources, please visit the Washington University Libraries' Rare Books Research Guide at:





Required:   Graduate-level degree in a field relevant to the history of the book and book arts; 2-3 years professional experience in rare books collection, research, management and development; Demonstrated knowledge of bibliography, book history and the book arts; Experience teaching and interpreting rare books in an academic setting, integrating collections into formal curriculum and informal learning opportunities, including an understanding of how print materials fit into digital scholarship; Experience working effectively and collaboratively with donors, collectors, and scholars; Ability to work effectively with a culturally diverse population of staff, faculty, students,  community members, and new audiences; Ability to work with non-English languages and non-Roman alphabets;

Familiarity with the antiquarian and contemporary rare book and manuscript trade; Ability to work in a team environment; Excellent written and verbal communication skills


Preferred:  Experience in multiple facets of grant funded research, including leadership roles in projects that advance the field of rare books scholarship, as well as partnership roles in faculty and campus projects requiring collections access and collections digitization; Participation in national professional organizations supporting rare books stewardship; Demonstrated familiarity with bibliographic and related metadata standards and formats.


Critical Skills: Familiarity with best practices and procedures for acquiring, organizing, describing, preserving, digitizing, and making accessible special collection materials, including rare books, manuscripts, archives, art, illustration, and digital assets, among other formats; Excellent written and verbal communication skills.  A demonstrated ability to speak with authority and enthusiasm on critical issues within special collections; An understanding of the information needs of a research university serving students, faculty, community members, and international scholars; Knowledge of intellectual property issues related to archives, libraries, and special collections and copyright issues associated with print and digital technologies; Knowledge of library preservation and conservation issues and practices.



GENERAL INFORMATION:  Washington University, located at the western edge of the city of St. Louis, is a medium-sized, independent, research university founded in 1853, and is internationally known for excellence in teaching and research and for the quality of its faculty and student body.  The University libraries play an essential role in providing the support for these areas to the Washington University community.  For more information, please visit the Washington University/Libraries' web sites at<> and




APPLICATION INFORMATION:  Applications must be submitted online at  Reference job #28499.  For full consideration, attach a letter of application, resume, and the names of three references (including e-mail & phone number).  Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.


Employment eligibility verification required upon hire.  Washington University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.