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Conservation Officer, Boston Public Library (Boston)

The Boston Public Library is seeking a Conservation Officer to work within the Preservation and Conservation team to provide essential care for the collections in the Library’s recently reorganized and reimagined Special Collections Department. 

Reporting to the Lead Conservator and supported by department colleagues, the primary work of the Conservation Officer will be assessment and conservation of bound volumes and paper-based materials stewarded by curators in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Arts, and Archives. Collaboration with Arts and Archives is increasing and the conservation team is particularly interested in candidates with experience in paper conservation, as well as demonstrated interest and experience in book conservation.

A fully redesigned and renovated conservation lab is scheduled to open in 2022 as part of the library’s Rare Books Department Renovation. The Conservation Officer will be an integral contributor to the book conservation program and help build the paper conservation program at the BPL. The library is committed to providing ongoing support to develop the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in this position. 

About the BPL Preservation and Conservation team

The Preservation and Conservation team furthers discovery and use of Research and Special Collections materials through essential care and maintenance that supports lasting access. Access is the reason for our work. Our approach centers on collection users and relies on collaboration and investigation as well as ongoing participation in current conversations within our field.  We are advocates for collections care. We work with BPL curators, archivists, librarians, facilities staff, and others to identify sustainable and achievable actions for the long-term care of everything from individual books to whole buildings. In sharing our knowledge and skills, we ensure that current and future communities of researchers and learners can use and enjoy the Library’s collections. We aim to understand the history and significance of the collections entrusted into our care and to respect the creators and communities these collections represent. 

The Library as a whole is committed to racial equity and to becoming an anti-racist organization and formed an action plan in 2020 in response to systemic racism, inequity, and injustice prevalent in our society. You can read more about the action plan and the steps BPL is taking to address diversity, equity, and inclusion here.

Position Overview: Responsible for the conservation treatment of rare and unique library materials, both paper-based and vellum-based; performs complex conservation treatment on rare book and special collections; keeps written records and photo-documentation of such work.

Reports to: Chief Book Conservator

Scope of Responsibility

1.      Assists in planning and managing the services, operations, and staff of the Rare Books Department. Assumes administrative responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the Conservation Lab in the absence of the Book Conservator or other ranking staff member.

2.      In consultation with the Book Conservator and Keeper of Special Collections, will perform complex conservation treatments on rare book and special collections materials including re-sewing; leather and vellum repair; rebinding and binding conservation; gold and blind tooling; conservation of paper and parchment, including aqueous and chemical treatment; creation of custom protective enclosures for a variety of rare and archival materials.

3.      In consultation with Book Conservator and Keeper of Special Collections, establish priorities for conservation treatment and coordinate the workflow of conservation treatments.

4.      Keeps written and photo-documentation of all conservation treatments.

5.      Participates in the planning of project goals and assists in establishing standards for implementation.

6.      Assists in the preparation of rare and special collections materials for exhibition, including condition reports and management of preventative care.

7.      Plans and conducts information, fundraising, orientation and training programs for library staff, librarians from other institutions, and members of the public.

8.      Participates in public presentations and fund-raising events.

9.      Assists in supervising, training, and developing conservation staff/interns.

10.  Initiates and maintains appropriate working relationships with staff within the Library and with other libraries, organizations, and agencies.

11.  Performs other related and comparable duties as assigned.


Education: Bachelor's degree from a recognized college or university and a master’s degree or other post graduate, professional certificate from a recognized program of conservation/bookbinding.  In exceptional circumstances, specialized education, training, and/or experience as evidenced by a conservation portfolio may be substituted for part or all of the educational requirements.

Experience: Four years appropriate experience in a conservation lab or bookbinding facility.

Requirements: Extensive knowledge of current book and paper conservation principles and practices. Extensive knowledge of the history of books and bookbindings, including historic bookbinding structures. Demonstrated ability to perform complex conservation treatments on rare books, bookbindings, manuscripts and broadsides, as evidenced by a conservation portfolio.  Understanding of temp/RH, light issues, pest management, disaster recovery. 

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

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

Full/Part Time

Full Time



Salary Range

$65,758.00 - $85,913.00  / year

Closing Date


How to Apply

For further information and to apply to this position, 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.


2021-09-23 |  Quick link to this job