Back to Opportunities

Assistant Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts

Houghton Library seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Assistant Curator to support building, managing, and promoting use of the Library’s post-1800 collections. Reporting to the Gore Vidal Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts, the incumbent performs a range of curatorial, outreach, administrative, and record-keeping functions. Part of a highly visible and active curatorial department, the incumbent will actively collaborate with all areas of the Library’s activity, including Public Services, Technical Services, Public and Scholarly Programs, and other curatorial departments.


Participates in and supports the acquisitions program of Modern Books and Manuscripts (1800-present), working with the curator to review, research, and evaluate potential purchases and gifts.

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, on site and remotely by telephone, mail, and e-mail, with reference, photoduplicating, and permission requests, including approximately four hours per week at the Houghton reading room desk.

Actively contributes to outreach activities, including developing content for the department’s website; providing tours and presentations related to the collections; and contributing to the department blog and the Library’s other social media platforms, in collaboration with Library public programs staff.

Assist in the administration and support of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, including reference, outreach, instruction, and exhibitions.

Prepares exhibitions of all sizes; manage 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 Modern 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, archival processing, preservation/conservation, and digitization projects.

Provides general administrative support for the department, including answering permission requests and maintains collection and administrative files, in conjunction with student assistant.

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.

Basic Qualifications
- B.A., M.L.S. from an ALA-accredited academic program or MA / PhD and work experience in a special collections environment
- Minimum two years of work experience
- Reading knowledge of at least one foreign language
- Archival experience strongly preferred.
- Experience working in a research library environment highly desired.
- Reading knowledge of Spanish, German, French or Russian strongly preferred.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- 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, sand ownership as they impact work in rare book, manuscript, and archival collections
- Knowledge of scholarly communication trends.
Relevant research areas: North America, 19th Century, 20th Century, Book arts

Leave a Reply