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Senior Rare Book Conservator, Harvard University (Cambridge)

Harvard University

Senior Rare Book Conservator
Harvard Library

Job Summary

Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on August 8, 2022.

The Senior Rare Book Conservator manages daily operations of a robust book conservation program including high-production conservation treatment workflows, preservation advice, consultation, education, and other programmatic activities. The Senior Rare Book Conservator manages relevant conservation projects such as digitization, exhibitions, patron use, and collections maintenance; collaborates with other Weissman Preservation Center (WPC) and Preservation Services managers to address the preservation needs and priorities of the Harvard Library collections community; and trains, guides, and mentors conservators, technicians, and interns. The position requires demonstrated excellence in performing a broad range of advanced to complex conservation treatments aligned with the American Institute for Conservation's Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.

Although based in the Weissman Preservation Center special collections conservation laboratory, the conservator will travel to Harvard Library repositories and other sites as needed. The Senior Rare Book Conservator reports to the James Needham Chief Conservator.
Position Description


•    Advises on, initiates, and coordinates rare book conservation projects including conducting Harvard Library site-visits to assess, identify, and monitor preservation and conservation priorities; examining collections to develop treatment specifications, protocols, and long-term preservation plans; working with colleagues to determine project scope and timeline; assigning projects to staff; tracking deadlines and ensuring treatment standards and protocols are being met.
•    Works creatively and collaboratively with staff across Preservation Services to meet overall goals of the department and the mission of Harvard Library.
•    Coordinates multiple projects and collaborates with Conservation and Preservation Services managers to develop and maintain cohesive workflows and policies based on available resources and unit capacity; adapts workflows of the team and initiates changes when necessary.
•    Develops and maintains working relationships with internal and external patrons, colleagues, and vendors; facilitates and coordinates timely and effective communication with library colleagues and staff.
•    Engages in review, interpretation, and development of conservation-related policies, methods, procedures, and services; works with others to update plans and implement recommendations for preservation strategies.
•    Advocates for conservation practices and policies across Harvard Library; interprets conservation procedures and practice to patrons, faculty, staff, and other academic and administrative officers.
•    Performs a broad range of advanced to complex conservation treatments aligned with the American Institute of Conservation's Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice; prepares accompanying condition, treatment, and other reports including photo documentation.
•    Contributes to and advocates for Harvard Library's Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Anti-Racism initiatives.
•    Models inclusive and equitable leadership and decision making.
•    Participates in packing and transport of collection items between the libraries and the Weissman Preservation Center.


•    Supervises exempt and non-exempt rare book conservators and technicians in WPC and is responsible for maintaining a cohesive team among geographically dispersed staff members.
•    Develops, adapts, and organizes workflows, assigns work, and tracks deadlines for staff, interns, fellows, or contractors working on book conservation projects.
•    Delivers training, conducts goal setting and annual performance reviews for staff, participates in job postings, and serves on search committees. Provides mentoring and coaching for staff and students involved in book conservation.
•    Meets regularly with direct reports, individually and in groups.

Professional and Outreach Activities

•    Contributes to the development of, and participates in, educational and outreach activities. May teach or lecture on relevant subject matter to Harvard staff and students.
•    Serves on Library Collections Emergency Team.
•    Serves on the Harvard Library Preservation Liaison team.
•    May serve on or co-chair department or library-wide committees or working groups.
•    Participates in research of Harvard Library collection materials by conducting job-related research, utilizing materials analysis techniques, and providing recommendations for analysis of collection items.
•    Provides leadership at Harvard and may play a regional, national, or international role within area(s) of expertise.
•    Builds and maintains job-related skills for self and staff through professional development and staff engagement opportunities.

Basic Qualifications

•    Advanced training in the conservation of books as evidenced by a master's degree in conservation with specialization in book conservation, or equivalent training through advanced courses, apprenticeships, and internships.
•    A minimum of eight years of professional experience in a conservation facility or in private practice.
•    Demonstrated experience performing a broad range of complex rare book conservation treatments.
•    In-depth knowledge of the history of the book, bookbinding techniques and structures, the history and methods of paper making and printing, and materials and structures often accompanying rare books.
•    Working knowledge of chemistry and materials science, particularly the nature and causes of book and paper deterioration.
•    Experience writing specifications, document treatments, and prepare reports.
•    Supervisory experience required.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

•    Working knowledge of standard software applications, including Microsoft Office.
•    Excellent oral and written communication skills, including public speaking, teaching, and training.
•    Knowledge of and adherence to professional ethical practice in conservation.
•    Demonstrated understanding of theoretical and technological changes in the profession, predicting and advocating for change through contributions to the professional literature, or serving on committees.
•    Ability to initiate and adapt to change, to analyze and solve problems, and to be flexible and work collaboratively.
•    Strong collaborative and organizational skills, including the ability to establish priorities and achieve goals; plan, organize, and direct workflows in a production setting; and balance competing priorities.
•    Strong interpersonal skills including the ability to train, supervise, motivate, and evaluate staff; encourage teamwork and staff development; and analyze and solve problems.
•    Experience working in a research library setting preferred.
•    Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and anti-racism.

Physical Requirements

•    Job requires up-close and accurate color vision, ability to handle sharp tools, to lift up to 30 lbs., and to escort materials from one building to another. Some tasks involve exposure to dust, mold, or solvents.

Working Conditions

The special collections conservation laboratory located within the WPC is an active facility where treatment of diverse rare book, paper, and photograph collections from Harvard libraries is carried out. Survey and treatment work may occur at various library locations.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Across the Harvard Library, our work is enriched by our diverse campus community. Our unique and wide-ranging abilities, experiences, and perspectives are integral to achieving Harvard University's mission of excellence in research, teaching, and learning for our patrons, our collections, and our workplace. We believe that an inclusive environment that cultivates and promotes understanding, respect, and collaboration across our diverse workforce enables our success.

We invite individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to be a part of our community of over 700 staff members. Our work with faculty, students and researchers to explore answers to intellectual questions, enduring and new, and to seek solutions to the world's most consequential problems, requires that we not only reflect, but also champion our diverse society.

Harvard Library inspires collaboration, reflection, experimentation, and discovery connecting users to related disciplines and to University-wide teaching resources. The Library engages users through curated discovery, digital collections, reimagined physical space, and specialized research support. Today, Harvard Library's holdings range from traditional print collections to rapidly expanding access to digital resources. Harvard Library provides the University's faculty, students, and researchers-now and in the future-with exceptional experiences and comprehensive access to these materials.

Learn more about our contributions to the academic enterprise by visiting us at and about the Harvard University community at

The Harvard Library is a proud member of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Alliance.

Job Function

Sub Unit

USA - MA - Cambridge

Weissman Preservation Center,

Time Status

00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Pre-Employment Screening
Criminal, Education, Identity

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Harvard University views equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging as the pathway to achieving inclusive excellence and fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. We strive to create a community that draws upon the widest possible pool of talent to unify excellence and diversity while fully embracing individuals from varied backgrounds, cultures, races, identities, life experiences, perspectives, beliefs, and values.

EEO Statement
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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Full/Part Time

Full Time



Salary Range

$81,000.00 - $138,400.00  / year

Closing Date


How to Apply

Apply Online


2022-07-14 |  Quick link to this job