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Archivist, Boston Public Library (Boston)

The Boston Public Library is seeking an Archivist to join the Archives team, part of the library’s recently reorganized and reimagined Special Collections Department. This newly created department is responsible for managing, describing, preserving, and providing access to archival collections held across BPL’s Special Collections curatorial areas. The Archivist will have a unique opportunity to help shape local practices and workflows as the department develops and as our newly renovated Special Collections reading room reopens in 2022.

We are seeking an archivist with broad experience in archival arrangement and description who has an interest in conscious and inclusive description, user-centered equitable access, and sustainable workflows. We are a small but collaborative team that is committed to continuous learning. We are exploring different approaches to extensible processing and iterative workflows, and the incumbent should have experience finding different technical solutions for information management. We value incremental improvement over perfection, and we are looking for someone who is not afraid to make mistakes and will explore creative and innovative solutions through experimentation. Since we are building a new department to manage legacy collections, the incumbent should be proactive, flexible, and passionate about stewarding archival collections to broad audiences.

Position overview 
Processes archival collections held by the Boston Public Library across all formats. Ensures that collections are arranged and described in accordance with established standards and best practices at an appropriate level of detail and effort. Assists with development of the library’s processing policies and procedures for archival materials across a spectrum from basic initial control through full, detailed description. Works closely with appropriate staff to set accessioning, deaccessioning, and processing priorities, and tracks and reports progress. Collaborates with other BPL staff on the development and use of tools and workflows to support description and access.

Scope of Responsibility 
1. Arranges and describes archival collections both large and small to varying levels of detail, and assesses and determines appropriate levels of processing based on research value, condition, and other factors.
2. Applies knowledge of current and emerging archival descriptive standards and systems (including DACS, EAD, and authority control standards) to the development of processing practice.
3. Collaborates with Preservation and Conservation staff to determine appropriate housing of archival materials and identify and recommend materials for conservation treatment. Participates in stacks maintenance and inventory projects.
4. In collaboration with Special Collections and Content Discovery staff, assists with the establishment of digitization priorities for archival materials and the design and implementation of project plans to address those priorities.
5. Supports reference and research staff with inquiries regarding archival collections.
6. Alternates with other staff members in supervising a public reading room in such a way as to maintain an atmosphere conducive to research while responsibly preserving and protecting materials.
7. Assists with the training of staff and interns at all levels in processing methodologies and tasks.
8. Participates in instructional and outreach programs and activities to promote knowledge and use of the library’s archival collections.
9. Documents activities, makes oral presentations, and prepares written progress reports regarding the status of assigned areas of responsibility.
10. Performs other related duties as assigned.

About the BPL Archives Department and BPL Special Collections 
The Boston Public Library Archives Department facilitates open and equitable public access to archival collections held by the library. In partnership with Special Collections department staff, the department arranges, describes, and preserves our archival holdings using iterative and sustainable practices. Through reference support, user-centered discovery, and adherence to national standards for archival description, the department works to meet the needs of BPL users and adapt as research practices change over time. The Archives Department aims to describe BPL’s archival collections in ways that are inclusive and respectful to those who create and use them and the people and communities these collections represent.

Situated in the BPL’s Central Library in Copley Square, the Special Collections Department facilitates discovery and supports public engagement with rare, distinctive, and culturally significant materials held by Boston Public Library.

Boston Public Library 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: 


- Proven skill in arranging and describing archival collections both large and small to varying levels of detail, and assessing and determining appropriate levels of processing based on research value, condition, and other factors. 
- Demonstrated knowledge of archival theory and practice; comprehensive knowledge of descriptive standards for archival and manuscript materials, especially DACS and EAD, and familiarity with other relevant standards, such as DublinCore, EAC, MODS, METS, MARC, AACR2, RDA, LCNAF, and LCSH. 
- Demonstrated experience with basic preservation and conservation standards for archival and manuscript collections. 
- Ability to execute library policy. 
- Ability to plan and supervise the work of others. 
- Demonstrates initiative and independent decision-making skills. 
- Communicates effectively and presents ideas clearly. Excellent oral and written communication skills, including public speaking, editorial, and formal writing abilities. 
- Ability to think creatively and innovatively. 
- Significant experience working with special collections materials. 
- Ability to collaborate with library staff, external partners and resources.

Required qualifications 
Education – Bachelor’s degree from recognized college or university. Master’s degree in library and information science required with formal training or professional experience in archival theory and practice. In exceptional instances specialized education, training, and/or experience may be substituted for a part or all of the educational requirements. 
Experience – Four years of professional experience in archival processing and description in museum, library, or other similar cultural heritage institution required.
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.

In addition to the above, the following qualifications are desirable but are not required for consideration: 
- Familiarity and experience cataloging in MARC 
- Records management experience or working knowledge 
- Experience processing audiovisual collections 
- Working knowledge of digital preservation 
- Familiarly with processing and managing born digital collections 
- Familiarity with anti-racist approaches to archival work. 
- Working knowledge of a scripting language, preferably Python or Ruby, the use of APIs, and/or SQL 

Full/Part Time

Full Time



Salary Range

$65,758.19 - $85,913.20  / year

Salary Notes

The salary range is governed by the City’s payscale. This position is a P3 – the step increase info can be found online.

Closing Date

How to Apply

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.

The City of Boston is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer. We are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive environment. Therefore, qualified applicants will be considered regardless of their sex, race, age, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental disability, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, military and veteran status, or other protected category. 


2021-09-30 |  Quick link to this job