Middle East Project Specialist

Middle East Project Specialist

locationUnited States
PublishedPublished: 12/8/2023
Full Time


Middle East Project Specialist

Harvard College Library


Job Summary

** This is a two-year term position.**

The Middle East Project Specialist will participate in a project to process a backlog of books, serials, and other formats in Arabic and Arabic-script languages, through copy cataloging (simple and complex), enhancement of existing provisional records to abbreviated cataloging, or the addition of brief bibliographic records. The position requires strong language skills to perform the variety of complex duties under minimal supervision, exercising a high degree of initiative. The project aims to make these materials easily accessible to faculty, students, and researchers through Harvard’s online catalog HOLLIS. 

Position Description

  • Perform copy cataloging for items in Middle Eastern languages, primarily Arabic and Persian, according to local policies and procedures. Includes entering metadata in Arabic script and adding transliteration according to ALA/LC standards.
  • Enhance existing provisional bibliographic records to abbreviated cataloging.
  • Create abbreviated level bibliographic records according to local policies and guidelines.
  • Determine subject content of books in different languages and assign Library of Congress base call number and subject keywords.
  • Identify duplicate items, duplicate records, added volumes, and other situations which require further attention.
  • Correct complex errors in various types of records that enhance the discoverability of library resources in our online catalog (e.g., bibliographic records, holdings records, and item records).
  • Other duties may be assigned.

Basic Qualifications

  • Previous experience working in an academic library.
  • Proficiency in reading Arabic and at least one other Arabic-script language (Persian, etc.); ability to process materials in a wide variety of foreign languages, subjects, and formats.
  • Knowledge of, or ability to learn, transliteration of Arabic script according to ALA/ Library of Congress (LC) romanization rules.
  • Knowledge of, or ability to learn, catalog records and MARC21 formats, and to effectively search bibliographic utilities.
  • Demonstrated computer literacy using word processing, spreadsheets, and e-mail applications.

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Bachelor's degree preferred. 
  • Knowledge of, or ability to learn, OCLC Connexion for copy cataloging of non-Latin materials; proficiency preferred.
  • Ability to follow and apply the content rules or creating metadata records as specified for individual projects.
  • Ability to perform abbreviated-level cataloging conforming to current local and national standards.
  • Ability to determine basic subject matter of materials and input appropriate subject keywords in English.
  • Ability to locate and assign Library of Congress (LC) base class number corresponding to the subject of the work using Classification Web or other resources.
  • Experience using or ability to learn Harvard’s library automated system ALMA.
  • Excellent analytic and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to communicate effectively in English, both orally and in writing.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and antiracism.
  • Ability to work effectively in a dynamic, production-oriented environment and the ability to adapt quickly and work under pressure to meet deadlines and production goals.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain a consistent accuracy and attention to detail while maintaining a high level or productivity.
  • Good keyboarding skills and physical tolerance for at least six hours of keyboarding per day.

Physical Requirements

  • Constantly sit, perform desk-based computer tasks.
  • Frequently twist/bend/stop/squat, grasp lightly/fine manipulation, grasp forcefully, sort/file paperwork or parts, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 15 pounds.
  • Occasionally stand/walk/climb a library stool, reach/work above shoulders, writing by hand.
  • Must be able to push and maneuver a fully-loaded cart weighing up to 650 pounds that requires an initial push force up to 70 pounds.

Working Conditions

  • Interacting with collections that may contain dust, mold, or other contaminants.
  • The position will be based on-site in Cambridge, MA.
  • Work location is responsive and subject to change based on business needs.


We invite you to visit Harvard’s Total Rewards website to learn more about our outstanding benefits package, which may include:

  • Paid Time Off: 3-4 weeks of accrued vacation time per year (3 weeks for support staff and 4 weeks for administrative/professional staff), 12 accrued sick days per year, 12.5 holidays plus a Winter Recess in December/January, 3 personal days per year (prorated based on date of hire), and up to 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents who are primary care givers.
  • Health and Welfare: Comprehensive medical, dental, and vision benefits, disability and life insurance programs, along with voluntary benefits. Most coverage begins as of your start date.
  • Work/Life and Wellness: Child and elder/adult care resources including on campus childcare centers, Employee Assistance Program, and wellness programs related to stress management, nutrition, meditation, and more.
  • Retirement: University-funded retirement plan with contributions from 5% to 15% of eligible compensation, based on age and earnings with full vesting after 3 years of service.
  • Tuition Assistance Program: Competitive program including $40 per class at the Harvard Extension School and reduced tuition through other participating Harvard graduate schools.
  • Tuition Reimbursement: Program that provides 75% to 90% reimbursement up to $5,250 per calendar year for eligible courses taken at other accredited institutions.
  • Professional Development: Programs and classes at little or no cost, including through the Harvard Center for Workplace Development and LinkedIn Learning.
  • Commuting and Transportation: Various commuter options handled through the Parking Office, including discounted parking, half-priced public transportation passes and pre-tax transit passes, biking benefits, and more.
  • Harvard Facilities Access, Discounts and Perks: Access to Harvard athletic and fitness facilities, libraries, campus events, credit union, and more, as well as discounts to various types of services (legal, financial, etc.) and cultural and leisure activities throughout metro-Boston.

Job Function


Department Office Location

USA - MA - Cambridge

Job Code

403072 Library Assistant V

Work Format




Salary Grade



Middle East, Africa, and Asia Division


55 - Hvd Union Cler & Tech Workers

Time Status


Pre-Employment Screening

Criminal, Education, Identity

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 http://library.harvard.edu and about the Harvard University community at http://hr.harvard.edu/why-harvard.

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

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.