Head of Manuscript Section

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Job Description

Reporting to the Associate Librarian for Technical Services, the Head of the Manuscript Section leads, manages, and supports Houghton Library’s efforts to accession, describe, preserve, and provide access to archival, manuscript, photographic, born-digital and other non-print holdings in all formats and across Houghton’s curatorial areas. The incumbent will bring a progressive, flexible, and innovative approach to this work and will be responsible for developing and/or implementing strategies, technologies, and standards that facilitate researcher access to Houghton’s holdings.   The Head of the Manuscript Section supervises section staff, plans and manages projects, and collaborates with staff and departments throughout Houghton Library, and participates actively within the broader Harvard special collections and archives community. 
TYPICAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.

  • Provides leadership and management for the Manuscript Section by developing and articulating strategic vision, building and maintaining a team spirit, managing day-to-day operations and special projects, collaboratively establishing priorities, and coordinating work within the unit and with other library units.
  • Supervises a current staff consisting of six regular and project employees through delegation of tasks and projects, establishment of goals, performance reviews, and provision of training. 
  • In collaboration with the Associate Librarian for Technical Services, Curatorial, Public Services, and Manuscript Section staff, sets processing and cataloging priorities for Houghton archival and manuscript collections.
  • Reviews finding aids, catalog records, and other descriptive output to ensure quality and adherence to standards; acts as Houghton’s OASIS Liaison.
  • Explores, proposes, and implements new technologies in collaboration with Houghton, Harvard, and/or external colleagues.
  • Establishes and employs metrics for archival processing and manuscript cataloging in order to enhance discovery and use of Houghton holdings and to aid in project management and grant planning.
  • In concert with colleagues, develops and implements a long range and comprehensive plan to effectively process and catalog Houghton backlog collections.
  • Participates in grant writing efforts, creating work plans and developing budgets for processing and cataloging projects.
  • Oversees the development and maintenance of documentation for processing, cataloging, and other Section activities. 
  • Working with the Head, Rare Book Team and the Technical Services Librarian, assists in planning and policy creation for the Technical Services Department.
  • Processes and catalogs collections and items as time permits.
  • Represents Houghton within the Harvard archival and library community, both informally through communication and collaboration, and formally by serving on committees and working groups.
  • Maintains an active presence in local and national professional archival organizations.

The incumbent supervises permanent, project and term processing staff positions, in addition to possible student positions.

Basic Qualifications

Basic qualifications are the qualifications a candidate must possess to be considered for this position. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Education and/or Experience

  • B.A., M.L.S. from an ALA-accredited academic program required. 

  • Five years of professional experience with increasing responsibility in special collections and/or archives

  • Extensive experience arranging, describing, and preserving archival, manuscript, photographic, and other non-print materials, including experience processing large collections. 

  • Demonstrated knowledge of DACS, EAD, EAC-CPF, MARC, Library of Congress/PPC rules and authority control practices.   Demonstrated knowledge of bibliographic and collection management systems.  
  • Supervisory and managerial experience required.
  • Demonstrated project management experience. 

  • A broad knowledge of American and European history and literature is essential.

Additional Qualifications

The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill, and/or ability preferred. 

  • Experience in an academic or research library preferred
  • Experience implementing new technologies and other techniques to improve work processes.
  • Knowledge of RDA, VRA, and other descriptive metadata standards.
  • Capacity to thrive in a changing working environment. 
  • Record of engagement with professional groups and activities and/or contributions to professional or scholarly literature.
  • Understanding of current developments within the archival profession and demonstrated commitment to engage in ongoing professional development and service to the profession.
  • Appreciation and understanding of the issues involved in the preservation and use of digital collections, both reformatted and born-digital.
  • Working knowledge of one or more Western European languages.
  • Experience with ArchivesSpace and Aeon preferred.
  • Exceptional interpersonal and communication skills and the ability to work creatively, collaboratively, and effectively as a section leader, team member, and independently; ability to communicate complex ideas to others of varying skill sets.

Additional Information

PHYSICAL DEMANDS The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • This position requires lifting and moving of materials weighing up to 40 pounds and pushing heavily loaded book trucks.
  • Work is performed in an area with library materials that may contain allergens or irritants such as paper dust and/or mold.

WORK ENVIRONMENT The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

  • The work is performed in an office setting within a library.

How to Apply

For full announcement and application instructions, go to:

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