St. Louis, MO: Curator of Rare Books, Washington University

Job Title:  Curator of Rare Books, Olin Library – 28499
Job ID:  28499
Location:  Danforth – Main Campus

Essential Functions

The Curator of Rare Books is responsible for stewardship and promotion of the Washington University Libraries’ Rare Books collections. This position oversees the operations of the unit, and, under the direction of the Director of Special Collections, engages in strategic planning and delivery of services supporting the use of collections in research, teaching and scholarship.


Works with the Director of Special Collections, faculty, and WUSTL Libraries staff to articulate, sustain and assess a vision for the responsible stewardship and innovative use of the WUSTL Libraries’ Rare Books collections. Manages professional and support staff, plus student workers, who support the acquisition, processing, cataloging, digitization, exhibition, research and instructional outreach of rare books throughout the WUSTL Libraries system. Initiates stacks maintenance tasks, inventory projects and conservation assessments. Develops and advances the Libraries’ rare books collections and develops strategic plans for staff and resources in collaboration with stakeholders.

Research and Reference Services

Supports multi-disciplinary research, instruction and scholarship through enhanced reference services to students, faculty and staff of Washington University, and other researchers locally, nationally and internationally. Provides research support to the University’s undergraduate and graduate student populations through in-class instruction sessions and one-on-one consultation. Develops and maintains plans and services for integrating materials from the Libraries’ rare books collections into curriculum. Maintains reference policies collaboratively with other Libraries’ Special Collections unit heads.

Collection Development

Actively engages with faculty and specialists on campus to align collection development and collection access with the University’s academic mission. Works with Director of Special Collections, faculty and other stakeholders to identify collecting priorities and new areas of collection development. Maintains collection development and related policies in coordination with other Special Collections unit heads.

Outreach and Professional Service

Works with the Libraries’ promotional departments and Special Collections staff to deliver effective outreach programming around the rare books collections for campus and community initiatives. Leads in the development of physical and online exhibitions featuring rare books.  Participates in library-wide activities or projects through service on library and university committees and working groups. Represents Washington University within professional and scholarly communities related to rare books.


Works with the Director of Special Collections, Libraries’ staff and campus partners to develop grant proposals and participate in other funding opportunities. Cultivates relationships with donors and program officers.

Required Qualifications

Graduate-level degree in a field relevant to the history of the book and book arts
Two to three years professional experience in rare books collection, research, management and development
Demonstrated knowledge of bibliography, book history and the book arts
Experience teaching and interpreting rare books in an academic setting, integrating collections into formal curriculum and informal learning opportunities, including an understanding of how print materials fit into digital scholarship
Experience working effectively and collaboratively with donors, collectors, and scholars
Ability to work effectively with a culturally diverse population of staff, faculty, students,  community members, and new audiences
Ability to work with non-English languages and non-Roman alphabets
Familiarity with the antiquarian and contemporary rare book and manuscript trade
Ability to work in a team environment
Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Be able to lift 40+ pounds
Be able to work in an environment in which exposure to materials containing dust and mold is possible
Evening and weekend events and Travel also required
Familiarity with best practices and procedures for acquiring, organizing, describing, preserving, digitizing, and making accessible special collection materials, including rare books, manuscripts, archives, art, illustration, and digital assets, among other formats
Excellent written and verbal communication skills.  A demonstrated ability to speak with authority and enthusiasm on critical issues within special collections
An understanding of the information needs of a research university serving students, faculty, community members, and international scholars.
Knowledge of intellectual property issues related to archives, libraries, and special collections and copyright issues associated with print and digital technologies
Knowledge of library preservation and conservation issues and practices.

Preferred Qualifications

Experience in multiple facets of grant funded research, including leadership roles in projects that advance the field of rare books scholarship, as well as partnership roles in faculty and campus projects requiring collections access and collections digitization
Participation in national professional organizations supporting rare books stewardship
Demonstrated familiarity with bibliographic and related metadata standards and formats

Salary Range
The hiring range for this position is $3.630.00 – $4,719.00 monthly.


Retirement Savings Plan
22 vacation days
8 Paid Holidays
Sick Time
Tuition benefits for employee, spouse and dependent children
Free Metro Link/ Bus pass
Free Life Insurance
Health, Dental, Vision
Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
Long Term Disability Insurance
Flex Spending Plan
Other Benefits

Human Resources website (

EOE Statement

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, race, ethnicity, protected veteran, or disability status.

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Thanks to Jen K. for this one!

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