Curator of Rare Books (Garden and Landscape Studies) – Dumbarton Oaks (Harvard University) – Washington, DC

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Responsible for collection management and acquisitions of rare and scholarly materials that enhance and strengthen the collections. Identifies desiderata in consultation with experts such as senior fellows and visiting scholars. Collaborates with other Dumbarton Oaks librarians and study program directors on acquisitions and collection development.
  • Monitors the state of the collection and makes recommendations and arrangements for conservation as needed.
  • Responsible for developing an online descriptive tool for the collection to facilitate access by researchers.
  • Responsible for identifying and preparing order requests for new acquisitions in support of Garden and Landscape Studies.
  • Collaborates with technical services staff to set priorities and standards of description.
  • Provides in-depth reference support and research guidance to Rare Book Collection users, including fellows, visiting scholars, students, and readers.
  • Contributes to the development and implementation of a digitization strategy and works toward concrete goals.
  • Builds and maintains relationships with the book and auction trade and curators at institutions with comparable collections.
  • Organizes or contributes to the organization of exhibitions in areas of expertise, including by mentoring interns and early-career fellows.
  • Collaborates with other areas, including Academic Programs, Events, and Communications to promote the collection.
  • Provides tours of the collection for visiting groups as appropriate.
  • Handles image requests.
  • Participates in the wider scholarly life of Dumbarton Oaks, including attending relevant research reports and scholarly events; and writing collection evaluations for fellowship applications.
    Supervisory Responsibilities
    May supervise and mentor post-doctoral and pre-doctoral fellows and interns.

Basic Qualifications

  • MLIS from an ALA-accredited institution or international equivalent and an advanced degree in a humanistic discipline relevant to the strengths of the Dumbarton Oaks collection (e.g. art and architectural history, garden and landscape architecture, environmental studies); or a PhD in one of these disciplines and knowledge of bibliography and book history.
  • Minimum of 3 years of professional experience working in an academic or research library.
  • Reading knowledge of at least two modern European languages (French, German, or Italian preferred).

Additional Qualifications

  • Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and with diverse constituencies, flexibility, excellent interpersonal and collaborative skills.
  • Strong humanities knowledge outside area of specialization strongly preferred.
  • Curatorial experience with exhibitions, reference, outreach, and/or instruction in a research library preferred.
  • Experience with priority-setting, selection, and interpretation for digital collections preferred.

Additional Information

Dumbarton Oaks is an institute of advanced research affiliated with Harvard University and located in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. It supports research in the areas of Byzantine, Pre-Columbian, and Garden and Landscape Studies through a residential fellowship program, as well as a rich program of scholarly events and publications (print and digital), while also welcoming the public to its museum and historic garden.

The Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection, originally known as the Garden Library, was founded in the early 1950s by Mildred Bliss in consultation with renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand to promote historical scholarship of garden history and landscape architecture. The collection now encompasses over 9,000 rare books, prints, drawings, and manuscripts on garden design and ornament, and landscape architecture. In addition to its recognized strengths in European and North American garden representations, treatises, herbals, and floras, the collection seeks to expand its scope by developing new subject area concentrations, especially through acquisitions of rare Chinese, Japanese, and South American materials. Another recent focus concerns material on historic cities, with attention to landscape design. Over the years the collection has also developed strengths in the other areas of specialization at Dumbarton Oaks, notably manuscripts and early printed materials in Pre-Columbian Studies, and facsimiles of Byzantine manuscripts. We are seeking to make the collection more broadly accessible through an active digitization program as well as through physical and online exhibits, study days, and scholarly programs for researchers at all career stages.

The Curator of Rare Books has responsibility for developing, interpreting, promoting, and managing the Dumbarton Oaks Rare Book Collection. The Curator will develop deep knowledge of the collection, including its history, strengths, and areas for further development, and will advise on and lead projects pertaining to cataloguing, digitizing, and promoting the collection through active support of fellows and visiting researchers. The curator will also function as the Garden and Landscape Studies subject librarian, and will collaborate with the GLS program director in developing exhibitions and scholarly events that showcase the institution’s rich resources.

Job Function: Library

Sub-Unit: Dumbarton Oaks

Location: USA – DC – Washington

Department: Library/Dumbarton Oaks

Time Status: Full-time

Union: 00 – Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Salary Grade: 057

Pre-Employment Screening: Criminal, Education, Identity

Schedule: 35 hours per week

To apply:

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