Director, Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Columbua University
New York, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Dec 18, 2020
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

Columbia University Libraries seeks an innovative and motivated professional for an exciting opportunity to join its senior leadership as the Director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (1). The Director will serve as thought leader and advocate in developing comprehensive strategies for the Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) specifically, and distinctive collections broadly, including driving innovation in areas such as digital collections development, scholarly communication, curricular integration, user-centered services, diversity and inclusion, organizational design and change management, employee engagement, and the ongoing professional development of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s dedicated and engaged team of over 30 curators, archivists, librarians, and support staff.  

The Director shapes collection development and management priorities to focus on areas of historical strength while building a more diverse and inclusive record of cultural and scientific heritage, addressing the technological and conceptual challenges posed by contemporary collecting. The Director provides strategic direction for advancing the Libraries’ stewardship role over existing collections, balancing new acquisitions against care for existing collections, developing digital collections for a global audience of scholars, as well as for activities related to archival processing, research services, access services, rights management, facilities management, fundraising and development, and outreach to scholars and communities at Columbia University and beyond. The Director oversees the official University Archives of Columbia and expands preservation of and access to the RBML’s world-renowned unique and special collections in support of research, teaching, and learning.

The Director serves as Principal Investigator for various grant-funded projects and helps shape development activities and donor relations for the Libraries. In addition, the Director leads an extensive scholarly outreach program of exhibitions, lectures, panels, and symposia. The Director serves on the Vice Provost & University Librarian’s Leadership Council, the University Libraries’ Distinctive Collections Group, the Provost’s Advisory Committee on the Libraries, and represents the University in regional, national, and international professional forums.

We encourage individuals of diverse backgrounds, cultures, experiences, identities, and abilities to apply for this exceptional opportunity to join an evolving Libraries and University community. Columbia University Libraries is a globally-recognized academic research library system, serving one of the world’s most important centers of research and learning in the most exciting and dynamic city in the world. Our talented staff build, sustain, and make discoverable collections that transcend traditional boundaries of format and domain, keeping pace with a dynamic and rapidly evolving information environment and creating opportunities for users to encounter 4,000 years of human thought.

Our decisions are informed by new curricula developed to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, new and emerging areas of research from a broad spectrum of researchers, including graduate students and newly-hired faculty, as well as by perspectives from the diminished or entirely lost voices of historically oppressed, marginalized, or underserved populations and communities. As a workplace, the Libraries strives for continuous improvement to provide a supportive, transparent, connected environment where every employee’s perspective is valued and every employee is encouraged to grow. All staff members have an impact on Columbia’s mission to advance knowledge at the highest levels and make the results of research accessible to the world.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library and its Collections

Founded in 1930, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Columbia University’s largest and one of North America’s leading repositories of distinctive and special collections. The range of collections in the RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise cuneiform tablets, papyri, medieval and renaissance manuscripts, rare printed works, expansive archival collections, as well as art, photography, and cultural objects. The history of publishing, comics, graphic arts, human rights, performing arts, and the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian émigré materials are recognized strengths of the RBML. The RBML is also home to the University Archives and the archival arm of the Columbia Center for Oral History. The RBML’s physical collections are complemented by a growing array of digitized and born digital collections (2).

For more information about RBML, its history, and its collections, see the RBML’s “What we Collect” website (3) and its recently-updated Wikipedia entry (4).


(1) Rare Book & Manuscript Library homepage:

(2) Rare Book & Manuscript Library Digital Collections:

(3) Rare Book & Manuscript Library “What we Collect”:

 (4) Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s Wikipedia entry:

We offer a salary commensurate with qualifications and experience and excellent benefits including assistance with University housing. After applicable waiting periods, Columbia offers 100% Columbia tuition exemption for self and eligible dependents, and Columbia will also pay 50% tuition for your eligible dependent child who is a candidate for an undergraduate degree at another accredited college or university.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity Employer / Disability / Veteran