City of Boston

Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts

Req ID
Boston Public Library
Regular Full-Time
Special Collections
Salary Min
Salary Max
Posting End Date
Contact Email


Position Overview:

The Curator of Modern Books and Manuscripts is responsible for stewarding, developing, and promoting the use of collections in the Boston Public Library’s Rare Books and Manuscripts Department that date from approximately 1800 through the present day. Typical duties include researching and interpreting existing collections; working with colleagues to facilitate processing, description, and preservation of collection materials; participating in reference, instruction, and outreach efforts; and evaluating and recommending potential acquisitions that support the library’s collecting strategy and mission.


Reports to:

Manager of Rare Books & Manuscripts



Staff as assigned


Scope of Responsibility:

  • Develops, maintains, and actively promotes the Rare Books & Manuscripts Department’s extensive collection of modern printed books, manuscripts, archival collections, and related materials dating from approximately 1800 through the present day.
  • Contributes to the development and implementation of procedures and workflows for a range of stewardship activities, including collection management, acquisition, description, processing, documentation, storage, security, and digitization.
  • Works with colleagues to establish priorities and work plans for special collections cataloging and for arrangement and description of archival and manuscript collections. Depending on the incumbent’s level of expertise, may occasionally participate in the work of cataloging, arrangement, and description.
  • Researches and makes recommendations for the acquisition of rare books, manuscripts, archives, manuscript collections, and related materials that broaden the scope of the library's modern holdings and build deeper, richer collections that represent the history and diversity of Boston communities. Assists curators and other colleagues across Special Collections with acquisition decisions, suggesting areas for future growth, and reviewing purchase, donation, and gift proposals.
  • Contributes to public services initiatives, both in person and online, which includes answering difficult and complex reference queries and teaching with the library’s collections.
  • Alternates with other staff members to supervise the reading room in such a way as to maintain an atmosphere that is welcoming and conducive to research while responsibly preserving and protecting collection materials.
  • Contributes expert interpretation and contextualization of collections for exhibitions, public programs, publications, speaking engagements, web-based projects, and social media outlets.
  • In collaboration with colleagues, establishes digitization priorities and designs and implements project plans to address those priorities.
  • Assumes administrative responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the department in the absence of the Department Head or other ranking staff member.
  • Participates in stacks maintenance and inventory projects and conducts periodic conservation assessments in collaboration with conservation and preservation staff. Suggests items or collections in need of conservation, makes recommendations for reformatting of materials.
  • Keeps abreast of current trends in scholarship in order to match research needs with collection development priorities.
  • Contributes to cultivation and stewardship of prospective donors.
  • Contributes as appropriate to the development of grant narratives, work plans, and budgets.
  • Prepares statistical and other reports and analyses, as assigned.
  • Performs other related and comparable duties as assigned.

Minimum Entrance Qualifications:

  • Education - Bachelor’s degree from a recognized college or university and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from an ALA accredited library school. Relevant subject knowledge and/or specialized training required. In exceptional circumstances, specialized training/experience may substitute all or part of the educational requirement.                     
  • Experience - Four years recent professional experience in a Special Collections department or equivalent setting. Two years of supervisory experience preferred. Fluency or reading knowledge of languages other than English—sufficient to support the ethical development of collections that represent the history and culture of diverse Boston communities—is strongly desired.
  • Some evening and weekend hours.
  • Demonstrated experience stewarding or contributing to the stewardship of rare book and manuscript collections, including overseeing or contributing to acquisitions or collection development.
  • Demonstrated experience and current knowledge of ethical collecting and stewardship practices.
  • Experience working with booksellers, auction houses, and other members of the book and manuscript trade to place materials or build collections.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively with diverse communities of library users and stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated experience conducting original research and supporting research in a library or archival setting.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of conservation principles and practices.
  • Familiarity with archival principles and practices.
  • Knowledge of copyright law and firm grasp of privacy and confidentiality standards.
  • Ability to carry out detailed procedures with accuracy.
  • Ability to plan and prioritize job responsibilities and tasks.
  • Demonstrated initiative and appropriate, independent decision-making skills.
  • Excellent oral, written, and interpersonal skills. Communicates effectively and presents ideas clearly.
  • Ability to execute library policy.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office required, knowledge of Google Suite a plus.
  • Ability to plan and supervise the work of others.
  • Ability to think creatively and innovatively.
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with library staff, external partners, and resources.
  • CORI - Must successfully clear a Criminal Offenders Record Information check with the City of Boston.




Union/Salary Plan/Grade: PSA / P / 3

Hours per week:  35


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