Full-Time Curatorial Position

Rare Book School (RBS) seeks a dynamic and collaborative individual with experience caring for rare books and cultural heritage materials to serve as curator of its hands-on teaching collection of 100,000-plus items. Located in new, purpose-built quarters in the University of Virginia’s Shannon Library, RBS offers a close-knit, highly collaborative, mission-centered work environment. RBS’s curator will work with RBS’s collections team to steward and augment RBS’s celebrated holdings, which span six millennia, multiple formats, and diverse cultures. Through exhibitions and outreach, RBS’s curator will educate and inspire audiences by demonstrating how books as physical objects—as well as text and illustration technologies over the longue durée—illuminate history. The curator will also be responsible for managing collections requests made by RBS faculty. Working closely both with RBS faculty and the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives, the curator will build on the School’s existing strengths and Inclusive Excellence goals, continuing to diversify its hands-on teaching collection. The curator will also be responsible for managing collection use in RBS courses. The successful candidate will thrive as a participant in RBS’s programmatic activities, moving easily from exhibition research to engagement with RBS staff, faculty, and diverse communities.

As described below, the curator’s duties, title, and salary will be based on the successful candidate’s level of experience. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis beginning April 29. The position reports to the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives.

Primary duties:

  • Serve as a public-facing presence for Rare Book School, its collections, and its exhibitions program;
  • With the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives, help manage RBS’s exhibitions program, which is centered in a new, prominent 20-case gallery in Shannon Library. Applicants hired at the associate or full curator level will be encouraged to propose solo or jointly curated shows within the program’s scope, and to contribute to grant-writing efforts;
  • With the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives, and in consultation with RBS faculty and stakeholders, select materials for the School’s teaching collection. The successful candidate will work in close partnership with the director to form and maintain relationships with the book trade, including attendance at book fairs. Applicants hired at the full curator level will manage a portion of the budget;
  • Liaise with RBS faculty members regarding RBS collections usage for RBS courses;
  • Liaise with staff members of UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library to plan RBS faculty visits to Special Collections;
  • Work with the RBS collections team to research and describe the collections, with an eye to discoverability and to making visible materials within the collection that were created and/or owned by individuals underrepresented in the book-historical record, including, but not limited to: women; BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and working-class communities; immigrants and migrants; and global communities of the book beyond the United States, Canada, and Europe.
  • Work with the collections and communications teams on collections outreach, and contribute to social media posts;
  • Work with the collections team on collection preservation and maintenance strategies;
  • Work with the collections team to maintain and improve RBS’s internal online collections catalogue, Silva, and related finding aids; and
  • Help manage part-time collections staff and summer session assistants in Charlottesville.

More experienced candidates will provide support for projects undertaken by the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives, ranging from securing loans and insurance for collections to generating publications and grant-related research. Development work will vary depending on experience. An associate curator would receive and acknowledge gifts, assist with donor relations and grant writing, and take part in senior staff meetings. A full curator would engage more directly in fundraising, grant writing, and donor visits, and would serve as department head when the director is on leave.

Entry-level qualifications

  • An ALA-accredited master’s degree in library or information science; or an advanced degree in the humanities or social sciences, with two years of experience working in a field involving rare books, such as the book trade;
  • Superior verbal and written communication skills;
  • A solid track record of working with teams in collaborative, fast-paced professional settings;
  • Comfort interacting in large groups and in professional and social settings;
  • An understanding of current best practices in rare materials collections management and bibliographical description, including ethical approaches to cataloging and stewarding cultural heritage materials;
  • Reading knowledge of at least one language in addition to English (e.g., Chinese, Latin, French, or Spanish);
  • Evidence of advancing multicultural collections initiatives/building inclusive collections;
  • Experience working with both Macintosh and Windows operating systems, and applications such as MS Word, MS Excel, Adobe Acrobat Pro, and Adobe Photoshop. Experience working with Trello, CollectiveAccess, Omeka, and Microsoft Teams desired, but not required; and
  • A valid driver’s license and ability to operate an automobile.

Qualifications for advanced position of associate or full curator

Associate curator. Requirements listed above, plus:

  • Two masters’ degrees (preferably including an M.L.I.S.) or a doctoral degree or one master’s degree with equivalent experience in a book-related profession (see below);
  • At least two full years (or four years of part-time employment) in a service-oriented profession that centers cultural heritage communities and professionals, particularly in the area of rare books;
  • Some experience with making rare book acquisitions;
  • Experience with curating a large-scale, public-facing exhibition featuring books as physical objects;
  • A record of publication and public speaking on special collections or cultural heritage materials, or equivalent book trade experience;
  • Experience managing part-time staff members; and
  • Reading knowledge of at least two languages in addition to English.

Full curator. Requirements listed above, plus:

  • Experience managing a budget;
  • Experience working in, or with, the antiquarian book trade;
  • Solid track record of peer-reviewed publications and public-facing exhibitions;
  • Experience teaching with books as objects; and
  • Experience with development work, which could include receiving and acknowledging gifts, grant writing or management, and meeting with donors.

Rare Book School is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, citizenship status, Vietnam era or special disabled veteran’s status, or sexual orientation.

The starting salary range for this position will be $58,000 to $70,000, depending on the qualifications met above. Benefits include three weeks of vacation plus five personal days (not including holidays), sick leave, health insurance, and contributions toward retirement, as well as departmental professional development funds, annual funding to attend the RBMS conference, and the opportunity to attend one RBS course each year.

This post requires the repetitive use of a keyboard at a workstation, manual dexterity, and the ability to climb ladders and lift boxes weighing up to 40 lbs. The RBS workspace is a standard special collections library environment with potential exposure to mold and dust. Saturday and Sunday shifts are typically required during the RBS summer session (June through early August).

Applicants should submit the following materials:

1) A cover letter discussing: a) your interest in RBS; b) the various strengths you could bring to RBS’s collections and staff; c) your professional experience supporting diversity and inclusion in research or programming; d) the skills you hope to cultivate at RBS and the areas in which you hope to grow; and e) the ways in which this position would inform your longer-term professional goals.

2) A C.V., including at least three references.

3) A writing sample of 20–30 pages, double-spaced.

Please send inquiries/electronic copies of materials to the Director of Collections, Exhibitions & Scholarly Initiatives, Barbara Heritage, beh7v@virginia.edu. Review of applications will begin April 29, 2024 and continue until the position is filled.


Part-Time Collections Assistant

Rare Book School, an international institute located at the University of Virginia, is seeking to hire two conscientious, detail- and service-oriented UVA undergraduate or graduate students for the part-time position of Collections Assistant. (First- or second-year undergraduates are preferred, as are first- or second-year doctoral students.) This is a nine-month contract for 12-15 hours a week with the possibility of renewal. The starting wage is $15.00 an hour. Successful applicants can begin work as early as March 1.

As a part-time member of Rare Book School’s Collections Team, the Collections Assistant will contribute to the organization and preservation of RBS’s collection of 100,000 items, including books, manuscripts, ephemera, printing surfaces, and other book historical artifacts. The Collections Assistant’s duties include:

  • Labeling, stamping, and flagging newly cataloged books and items
  • Creating archival-quality enclosures, such as Melinex folders, custom boxes, and dust jacket covers for books and related materials
  • Photographing collections materials
  • Shelving and shelf-checking collections materials
  • Organizing and moving collections
  • Dusting and cleaning collections storage areas
  • Assisting with preparatory work for RBS exhibitions
  • Assisting with installing RBS’s public-facing exhibitions
  • Assisting with RBS events and programs, including open houses and courses
  • Updating existing catalogue records and creating new basic catalogue records

Required Qualifications:

  • A strong, demonstrated interest in book history, book arts, curation, conservation, preservation, librarianship, archives, bibliography, languages, and/or history

Desired Qualifications:

  • Solid communication skills and clear handwriting
  • Previous experience working in a library setting
  • Studio arts experience (printmaking, letterpress printing, &c.) and/or experience with a craft that requires manual dexterity and precision
  • Ability to lift 40 pounds and climb step ladders

Please note that the RBS workspace is a standard special collections library environment with possible exposure to mold and dust.

Please send an up-to-date CV, a cover letter, and the names and contact information of two references to Barbara Heritage, Rare Book School, at: beh7v@virginia.edu. Applicants are encouraged to submit their materials by February 23, 2024 to start work at the beginning of March. The position will remain posted on RBS’s website, and RBS will continue to accept applications on a rolling basis until both positions are filled.

Rare Book School is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer as a nonprofit affiliated with the University of Virginia. RBS is committed to fostering an inclusive, respectful, and welcoming environment that embraces a richly diverse representation of human attributes, perspectives, and disciplines. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, citizenship status, Vietnam era or special disabled veteran’s status, or sexual orientation. We champion an accessible, diverse, and inclusive learning environment and invite candidates to review Rare Book School’s Inclusive Excellence goals (see http://www.rarebookschool.org/inclusive-excellence-plan).