City of Boston

Assistant Director of Research Collections

Req ID
Boston Public Library
Regular Full-Time
BPL Directors Office - 2
Salary Min
Salary Max
Posting End Date
Contact Email


The Assistant Director of Research Collections provides strategic leadership and operational oversight for the Boston Public Library’s extensive research collections, which total nearly 16 million items. This position oversees teams and services responsible for collection management, storage, materials movement, patron delivery, and access services for the research collections.


Primary responsibilities include developing and implementing successful strategies to facilitate public use of the library’s research collections in a way that is sustainable and responsive to the communities that BPL serves. In close collaboration with stakeholders, the Assistant Director will lead efforts to develop effective procedures and workflows, streamline internal processes, improve public service and delivery of collections, and lower barriers to physical and digital access. Core functions include performing analyses of existing research collections to understand scope, strengths, and user needs; setting priorities and developing action plans; and creating long-range collection management and retention strategies that are mission driven and forward thinking.


The Assistant Director is responsible for decisions and planning efforts that support the preservation and long-term stewardship of these significant materials. This includes oversight of research collection storage areas at the Central Library in Copley Square as well as the library’s offsite storage facility. This role has primary responsibility for evaluating current and future physical storage needs and leading strategic efforts to advocate for research collections’ maintenance and access needs as part of capital and other related projects.


About the BPL’s research collections: Collected since the library’s founding in 1848, the research collections represent the BPL’s ongoing commitment to providing free and open access to specialized materials primarily held by private or academic libraries. As a founding member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Boston Public Library is one of only two public libraries to hold this distinction. The research collections span five centuries and include monographs, serials, periodicals, pamphlets, journals, illustrated portfolios, newspapers, maps, government documents, audiovisual materials, and microfilm, among other formats. These collections represent materials deemed to be of enduring value to researchers and the general public; content and subject matter closely align with holdings in the BPL’s Special Collections.


Reports to

Director of Research & Special Collections



Staff as assigned


  • Develops and oversees the BPL’s research collection strategy, including collection surveys, user analysis, collecting priorities, resource allocation, funding needs, retention goals, and access points.  Leads staff and stakeholders in setting priorities for the collection and developing initiatives, processes, and metrics to implement and evaluate strategy.
  • Leads the development, implementation and evaluation of services and policies related to delivery of research collection materials to library users. Works to ensure consistent, high-quality service and integrated access across all research collection materials. Oversees the supervision of the Central Library’s Book Delivery staff.
  • Oversees the access, use, maintenance, and storage of research collections at the Central Library and off-site storage facilities.  Oversees the BPL operations at the City of Boston Archival Center (COBAC) in West Roxbury, including the supervision of associated BPL staff.
  • Collaborates closely with relevant departments such as special collections and research services to identify and transfer materials to and from the research collection and determine appropriate locations for materials. Develops criteria and workflow for transferring collections to offsite storage.
  • Works closely with preservation, security, and facilities teams to assist in monitoring environmental conditions and reporting and addressing environmental, security, and storage issues. In partnership with Preservation staff, develops and implements preservation program for research collections, including stacks cleaning and bindery programs.
  • Establishes priorities and develops strategy for public discovery of research collection holdings, in close coordination with staff and stakeholders throughout the institution including collection development, library services, special collections, research services, and digital and online services. Works with colleagues to create and implement cataloging and retrospective conversion projects, establish digitization selection and workflows, and promote public engagement within broader library services and programs across the library’s locations.
  •  Works closely with collection development staff and other stakeholders to ensure streamlined acquisitions and maintenance procedures related to research collections. Collaborates with relevant departments and vendors to evaluate electronic resources, identify gaps or overlap in physical and digital content, and make selections. Oversees budgets related to electronic and physical serials, in coordination with collection development.
  • Investigates and oversees cooperative collection arrangements with other institutions. Builds and fosters productive partnerships with peer libraries, other non-profits, and the commercial sector.
  • Serves as a core member of strategic planning and design teams for major capital and other projects involving research collections and services, including environmental improvements, space planning, and storage of research collections.
  •  Advocates for external funding to meet research collection needs, including the pursuit of grant or other philanthropic funding through affiliate groups. Oversees scope creation and strategic goal-setting for project grants to support research collections. Serves as liaison to donors and key stakeholders to promote departmental work and set funding priorities.
  • Evaluates participation in Federal Depository Library Program and work with relevant staff and stakeholders to develop strategy for storage, access, and use of government documents.
  • Stays abreast of emerging technologies and assists in evaluating, recommending, and incorporating information technologies and best practices for continued research collection improvements.
  • Assists the Director of Research & Special Collections with administrative and operational responsibilities for the larger Research & Special Collections division. Assumes oversight of the division in the Director’s absence.
  • Initiates and maintains effective working relationships with staff within the Library and with other libraries, organizations, and agencies.
  • Commits to keeping current in the best practices of the profession by taking advantage of training and development activities, by reading professional literature, and by participating in professional activities.
  • Represents library at local and national conferences as assigned.
  • Performs other related and comparable duties as assigned.



  • Successfully demonstrated leadership experience within a library, museum or other similar cultural heritage institution, with substantial supervisory experience and fiscal responsibility. Strong management skills and ability to motivate staff.
  • Extensive experience with a wide range of research collection principles and best practices across formats and management principles and techniques.
  • Excellent communication (oral and written) and presentation skills. The successful incumbent should be able to adapt communication style to different audiences.
  • Demonstrated ability to engage staff and external constituencies in the collaborative planning, coordination, and execution of new services or programs.
  • Demonstrated vision, strategic thinking, initiative, flexibility, adaptability, and willingness to embrace change.
  • Ability to exercise sound judgment and focus on detail as required by the job.
  • Ability to identify, plan, and prioritize job responsibilities and tasks and determine and implement project timelines.
  • Ability to work independently under deadlines and with sensitivity to confidential matters.
  • Demonstrated experience with project management and strong analytical skills. Excellent organizational and problem-solving skills.
  • Experience monitoring library environments and contributing to preservation programs and procedures.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office applications.
  • Ability to execute library policy.

Minimum Entrance Qualifications:


  • Bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university and a master’s degree in library science from an ALA accredited library school.  Relevant subject knowledge and/or specialized training required.  In exceptional instances specialized education, training, and/or experience may be substituted for a part or all of the educational requirements.


  • Demonstrated seven years of professional experience in management of research collections required. 
  • Management experience must be with comparable research collections and must include strategy development and collaboration.
  • At least three years of supervisory and/or management of staff experience required. 
  • Knowledge of current developments within research collections, including collection retention and storage, required. 
  • Experience with the development or oversight of shared print collections highly desirable.


  • This position will split time between the Central Library in Copley Square and the City of Boston Archival Center in West Roxbury.
  • 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.


Union/Salary Plan/Grade:   Nonunion/PM-7
Hours per week:  35



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