Jobs for Medievalists

Assistant Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts


Job Code

386056 Library Professional

Duties & Responsibilities

Posting will remain open until filled, however applications will be reviewed beginning Monday, August 12th

Houghton Library seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Assistant Curator to support building, managing, and promoting use of the Library’s pre-1800 collections, with a particular emphasis on early manuscripts. The position offers the opportunity to work with the collections of a world-class rare book and manuscript library, and to inspire broad and creative use of those collections among existing and as-yet untapped audiences. The incumbent will perform a range of curatorial, outreach, and administrative functions and will actively collaborate with all areas of the Library’s work, including Public Services, Technical Services, Scholarly and Public Programs, and other curatorial departments.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Collaborates with faculty and instructors, and with staff in the Public Services Department, to provide direct instruction to undergraduate and graduate students for classes, orientation sessions, and other related educational activities utilizing Houghton collections.
  • Provides expert assistance to researchers, on site and remotely, with reference, photoduplicating, and permission requests, including approximately four hours per week at the Houghton reading room desk.
  • Participates in and supports the acquisitions program of the Early Books and Manuscripts department, working with the curator to review, research, and evaluate potential purchases and gifts.
  • Actively contributes to outreach activities, including developing content for the department’s website; providing tours and presentations related to the collections and the library; and contributing to the Library’s blog and other social media platforms, in collaboration with Library public programs staff.
  • Prepares exhibitions of all sizes; manages corresponding events, tours, and publications.
  • Assists in the review and preparation of external loan requests.
  • Represents the department to Harvard affiliates and external constituents; organizes outreach activities to promote the collections.
  • Assists in preservation and conservation review of the Early Books and Manuscripts collections. May assist in disaster response.
  • In collaboration with Technical Services, acknowledges receipt of gifts and purchases, generates and/or participates in efforts focused on organizing and improving access to collection material.
  • Contributes to accessioning, cataloging, preservation, and digitization projects.
  • Serves on Library and University committees as appropriate; contributes actively to professional organizations and shares research performed in the collection through presentations and publication. 
  • Support of departmental and library programs may require some weekend or evening hours.


  • Position could involve the supervision of a student assistant

Basic Qualifications

  • Advanced degree
  • Minimum two years of related work experience
  • Demonstrated academic work or experience with paleography and the production and use of early manuscripts.

Additional Qualifications

  • MLS from an ALA-accredited academic program preferred; PhD preferred.
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion and to serving the needs of a diverse population
  • Special collections experience strongly preferred.
  • Work experience preferably in an academic setting.
  • Experience working in a research library environment highly desired.
  • Reading knowledge of Latin or another language relevant to the Library’s early manuscript holdings.
  • Ability to work or interest in working with the department’s manuscripts in non-European languages
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational, time, and project management skills.
  • Ability to work creatively, collaboratively, and effectively both as a team member and independently and to promote teamwork among colleagues.
  • Experience in classroom instruction, particularly involving special collections
  • Ability to thrive within a complex and changing work environment.
  • Evidence of a strong service orientation and demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, library colleagues, and the general public.
  • Knowledge of copyright, privacy, confidentiality, and ownership as they impact work in rare book, manuscript, and archival collections
  • Knowledge of scholarly communication trends.
  • Demonstrated familiarity and fluency with emerging fields of digital scholarship
  • Strong technology skills and an enthusiasm for adopting new technologies and systems that expand access to collections and facilitate their use in research and teaching.
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