Special Collections Librarian and Archivist

Special Collections Librarian and Archivist

locationUnited States
PublishedPublished: 12/8/2023
Full Time


Special Collections Librarian and Archivist

Harvard College Library


Job Summary

Although this position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on February 5, 2024.

Harvard-Yenching Library seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Special Collections Librarian and Archivist to develop, manage, and promote use of the Library’s Special Collections. Reporting to Librarian of the Harvard-Yenching Library, supervising library assistants and working closely with colleagues in collection development, the incumbent collects, organizes, and maintains control over a wide range of primary and unique sources in many formats, including born digital, according to professional standards and best practices. The Special Collections Librarian and Archivist appraises potential acquisitions and provides research assistance in the use of materials in HYL Special Collections. The Special Collections Librarian and Archivist develops policies and procedures for the Harvard-Yenching Library in collaboration with other special collections and archives across Harvard Library. The Special Collections Librarian and Archivists manages acquisition, processing, disposition, preservation, digitization and access to materials in the Harvard-Yenching Library’s Special Collections.    

Position Description

  • Manages operations of the stacks and reading room of Harvard-Yenching Library  Special Collections. 
  • Develops and implements procedures and policies for acquisition, processing, digitization and, preservation of materials for Special Collections, building on existing standards used in Harvard Library. 
  • In collaboration with Harvard-Yenching Library subject librarians, appraises potential collection additions and makes recommendations for acquisition of new collections and deaccession of existing collections. 
  • Develops, arranges, and describes archival collections in accordance with accepted standards and practices. 
  • Creates finding aids using contemporary tools in accordance with national standards and ensures the quality of finding aids created by other staff. 
  • Hires and manages the work of staff, students, or others in processing collections. 
  • Works closely with the subject librarians in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese studies to develop the Special Collections of the Harvard-Yenching Library.   
  • Provides support in use of Special Collection materials by individual faculty, students, and researchers as well as working with faculty for use by classes. 
  • Works in collaboration with Harvard Library Preservation Services to maintain suitable physical conditions for the Special Collections. 
  • Monitors the use of the collection’s materials to ensure their security.  
  • Promotes the Harvard-Yenching Library’s Special Collections to its potential users both at Harvard and beyond.  
  • Manages exhibition requests from entities within Harvard as well as external institutions. 
  • Organizes physical and online exhibitions of Special Collection materials. 
  • Works collaboratively with Harvard-Yenching Library staff and Harvard Library Imaging Services to initiate and manage digitization projects of Special Collections materials.  
  • Collaborates with East Asian and Vietnamese studies librarians in North American and international institutions, especially those with responsibilities for special collections, to provide support to the wider community of researchers and to develop cross-institution projects. 
  • Supervises Curatorial Assistant for Special Collections and 1-2 student or temporary workers. 

Basic Qualifications

  • A combination of M.L.S. from an ALA-accredited program and a bachelor’s degree in East Asian/Vietnamese studies; or an advanced degree in East Asian/Vietnamese studies. 
  • Minimum of three years of professional experience in a research library. 
  • Excellent reading knowledge of one East Asian language or Vietnamese in both the pre-modern and modern forms. Familiarity with the Hanzi/Kanji/Hancha/Hán Nôm scripts.  
  • Demonstrated knowledge of archival and preservation concepts, methodology, and techniques. 

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • Experience performing research, identification, and evaluation/appraisal of potential archival collections.
  • Awareness of current trends in the digitization of archival materials for access and preservation.
  • Ability and experience developing and maintaining finding aids using contemporary tools in accordance with national standards.
  • Ability to hire, supervise and train employees, including organizing, prioritizing, and scheduling work assignments.
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and antiracism.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Evidence of a strong service orientation and demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, visiting scholars, library colleagues, and the general public.
  • Experience in handling and managing special collections and archival materials.
  • Experience in creating finding aids and/or metadata for special collections or archives.
  • Knowledge of copyright, privacy, and confidentiality and the impact on work in rare book, manuscript, and archival collections.
  • Experience in digitizing Asian texts.
  • Experience of organizing physical and online exhibitions.

Working Conditions

  • The position is based onsite in Cambridge, MA. There may be the opportunity for a flexible or hybrid work model compliant with Harvard University remote work policies.
  • May interact with collections that may contain dust, mold, or other contaminants.

Work Format Details

This is a hybrid position that is based in Massachusetts. Additional details will be discussed during the interview process. All remote work must be performed within one of the Harvard Registered Payroll States, which currently includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Washington, and California (CA for exempt positions only). Certain visa types and funding sources may limit work location. Individuals must meet work location sponsorship requirements prior to employment.


We invite you to visit Harvard's Total Rewards website (https://hr.harvard.edu/totalrewards) 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

386057 Library Professional

Work Format

Hybrid (partially on-site, partially remote)



Salary Grade



Harvard Yenching Library

Annual Salary Range

$74,200 to $126,200


00 - Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

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.

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