Reference Librarian – Library of Congress – Washington, D.C.

Job Overview


About the Agency

The Reference Librarian is a knowledge navigator responsible for providing reference, research, consultation, and liaison services; instructions and training; and security for Prints and Photographs Division collections. P&P holds more than 14 million items in a variety of visual formats in hundreds of individual collections stored in local and remote sites. The collections are among the Library’s most varied in medium, format, physical condition, and intellectual property rights requirements, with attendant concerns for security, preservation, and safe handling. The collections are accessed by means of complex, diverse, and often multi-layered intellectual controls and surrogates in written, filmed, and digital forms. As one of the largest pictorial archives in the world, P&P plays a critical role in establishing a positive image of the Library and furthering the Library’s goal of providing a high level of responsive, effective, and professional public access and outreach services to the full range of Library users worldwide, including members of Congress and their staff, other agencies, scholars, researchers, and mass media.

This position is located in the Reference Section, Prints and Photographs Division, Collections and Services Directorate, Library Services.

The position description number for this position is 247166.

The salary range indicated reflects the locality pay adjustments for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area.

The incumbent of this position will work a modified flexitime work schedule to accommodate reading room hours, which are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

This is a non-supervisory, bargaining unit position.

Relocation expenses will not be authorized for the person(s) selected under this vacancy announcement.


Provides reference services where needs are relatively easy to determine from client interviews in person or over the telephone, or from written requests, and the bibliographic source materials are of limited technical complexity. Communicates with a wide variety of patrons with questions regarding access, handling, and use of P&P materials, maintaining a high degree of tact and courtesy. Interviews researchers, analyzes their questions and requirements, and recommends material appropriate to their needs. Orients readers to the reading room and its services. Guides researchers in employing search strategies that tap the full range of the Division’s online and manual reference tools and resources to meet the researcher’s need. Provides information on the collections, finding tools, and relevant reference sources. Appropriately directs researchers to collections and specialists elsewhere in the Library of Congress.

Facilitates services to researchers, including registration procedures, filling out call slips, and completing duplication requests. Cooperatively shares responsibility for retrieving materials requested by researchers and advising researchers on appropriate safe handling practices.

Drawing on basic knowledge of digital technology and duplication procedures, copyright law and other laws pertaining to the use of pictures, aids patrons in completing requests for duplication.

Interprets written requests of limited complexity and responds in a manner conforming to Division policies. Clarifies written requests as needed and provides clear, accurate, concise, and grammatically correct written responses.

Assignments are non-repetitive, require research among several collections to locate relevant materials, and involve some evaluation for authenticity, completeness, and significance.

Provides reference and research services of limited technical complexity. Through research in the history of the visual media, as well as constant examination of new literature and development of professional contacts, maintains awareness and knowledge of visual media, developments in the field of visual librarianship, and availability of reference and resource materials. As assigned, performs research involving the use of visual materials and reference sources in order to produce printed and online reference aids. As requested, carries out research and provides documentation for creating catalog records and finding aids.

Develops and maintains personal contacts and cooperative work relationships to provide or exchange information. Participates in outreach efforts including provision of basic information services through the use of new technologies. Attends workshops, conferences, seminars or meetings relating to visual librarianship and the development and use of visual materials. Participates in outreach efforts, such as responding to comments and queries in electronic forums where Library collections are presented. Participates in discussions of programs and policies related to reference and research services in the Division, making suggestions to promote effective means for connecting a broad audience with the collections. As assigned, assists in providing tours and other oral presentations for staff, research groups, and other visitors to the Division.

Shares responsibility for the security and safe handling of the materials used in the reading room, which are all considered rare and are often unique. Supervises and observes researchers as they handle material, ensuring items are not damaged, misfiled, or lost through use. Tactfully and courteously speaks to readers concerning departures from special rules and practices for handling pictorial materials. Examines material prior to service or copying to ensure appropriate handling. Recognizes and proposes solutions to problems or inconsistencies in identification or labeling of collection items to ensure the proper application of established processes and methods.

Job Requirements

Key Requirements


Applicants must have had progressively responsible experience and training sufficient in scope and quality to furnish them with an acceptable level of the following knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the duties of the position without more than normal supervision.

  • Knowledge of the principles, concepts, tools and techniques of library science.
  • Ability to provide reference and research services.**
  • Knowledge of visual materials in library or archival collections.**
  • Ability to provide consultation or liaison duties.
  • Ability to communicate in writing.
  • Ability to communicate effectively other than in writing.

No additional requirements to those listed above.

Security Clearance

Not Applicable

Link to full posting and application

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