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Special Library Assistant – Arts Department, Boston Public Library (Boston)

The Boston Public Library is seeking a Special Library Assistant for the Arts Department, which is located at the Central Library in Copley Square. Reporting to the Manager and Lead Curator of the Arts, the Special Library Assistant is a vital member of the department and assists in all aspects of supporting and maintaining public access to Arts special collections, including retrieving and refiling materials, performing data entry, tracking collections, collecting statistics, registering users, stacks maintenance within the department, and other tasks as assigned. This is a time of growth at the BPL as the library anticipates the reopening of a newly renovated special collections reading room, scheduled to open to the public in 2022. 

About BPL’s Arts Department

The Arts Department at Boston Public Library’s Central Library in Copley Square is responsible for the care of and access to unique and historically significant works of art, music, and documentary materials, including photographs, prints, drawings, sculpture, painting, musical scores, and related reference materials, spanning from the 15th century to the present day. The collections were assembled during the earliest days of the library to support the research needs of the Boston community by documenting local history and offering a view of the world outside its borders. Strengths of the collections demonstrate the history and technology of printmaking and photography, book illustration, press photography, bound volumes of sheet music, and so much more. The mission of the Arts Department is to create public opportunities to discover and explore the collections by providing multiple forms of access to these materials. We uplift current holdings and select new collections that connect to and support the dynamic needs of our users, document the history of our time, and demonstrate the relevance and value of artistic practice in society.  A selection of digitized holdings may be seen through BPL’s online portal: Digital Commonwealth. 

The Boston Public Library is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization and formed an action plan in 2020 in response to systemic racism, inequity, and injustice. The action plan and steps are available here.

Scope of Responsibility

1.    Participates in activities related to accessioning for all incoming materials (new and transferred) for the department. 

2.    Retrieves departmental materials for patron and staff requests. Assists in maintaining inventory control of each item retrieved from stacks, compares and matches tracking information, verifies reshelving of material, and checks shelves on a regular basis for misshelved items. Collects organizes, and files department tracking documentation.

3.    Ensures that materials are refiled promptly and accurately after use.  Responsible for the proper handling and security of rare, valuable, and fragile materials.

4.    Performs regular sorting, shelving, straightening, and shelf-reading. Participates in departmental shifting and collection measurement, inventories, shelving of new material, and other stack maintenance work as assigned. 

5.    Prepares materials for delivery and transports trucks of materials between Central departments for reading room usage, digitization, exhibition, and other purposes. Assists with the coordination/retrieval of off-site collections.

6.    Prepares newly acquired materials for shelving by inserting bookplates, lettering, labeling, flags, etc.

7.    Assists with rehousing of materials, printing of labels, and refoldering of items. 

8.    Assists with departmental clerical duties including maintaining statistics, compiling reports, and managing paper and electronic files. 

9.    Assists with coverage for Reception Desk as needed. Registers patrons and informs them of reading room policies and procedures. Answers general questions about the department and its collections. 

10.  Performs other related duties as required.


Demonstrated initiative and appropriate independent decision-making skills.

Demonstrated strong oral and written communication skills. Communicates effectively and presents ideas clearly. 

Demonstrated organizational skills.  Identifies, plans and prioritizes administrative job responsibilities and tasks; assists in implementing administrative timelines. 

Ability to collaborate with library staff and patrons.

Ability to execute library policy.

Proficiency with MS Outlook, Word, and Excel.

Minimum Entrance Qualifications:

Education – High school graduate or equivalent. Additional education desirable. World Language skills desirable.

Experience – At least two years library, archive or museum collection experience and training to carry out responsibilities of the position. Experience with basic integrated library system or museum related software.

Requirements – Computer skills necessary to complete the job as described. High sense of responsibility, exceptional attention to detail, excellent work habits and organizational skill. Familiarity with Library of Congress classification system and cultural heritage related thesauri.  Ability to help solve problems of sorting, storage, and retrieval of materials.  Ability to read and interpret bibliographic or other descriptive information about collections. Ability to bend, stoop, reach, and climb stairs. Ability to lift and carry 40 pounds with appropriate equipment or assistance from another person. Excel test and lifting test will be given.

Must be a resident of the City of Boston upon the first day of hire.

Must successfully clear a Criminal Offenders Record Information check with the City of Boston.

Full/Part Time

Full Time



Salary Range

$40,717.00 - $53,887.00  / year

Closing Date


How to Apply

For further information and to apply to this position, please visit the City of Boston employment website. Please combine your cover letter and resume in a single PDF file and attach them together in the resume upload section of the website. 


2021-09-16 |  Quick link to this job