This job has expired

Head of Special Collections

Wesleyan University
Connecticut, United States
Salary Not Specified
Start date
Sep 8, 2023

Job Details

Wesleyan University, founded in 1831, is a diverse, energetic liberal arts community where critical thinking and practical idealism go hand in hand.

Position Details
Located in Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges with 3,000 undergraduates and 200 graduates. Established in 1831, Wesleyan is known for its rich, open, and interdisciplinary curriculum. We have a long-standing commitment to creating a dynamically diverse campus comprised of students from all racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Within this intellectually stimulating environment, the Wesleyan University Libraries play an important role. Special Collections is made up of over 45,000 volumes of rare books ranging from medieval manuscript codices and early printed books to 21st-century fine press books. It holds materials in multiple formats, including books, pamphlets, broadsides, and maps. It also maintains a strong collection of over 1,000 artists’ books with one highlight being those on social justice and related issues.
Wesleyan’s Special Collections is part of the newly formed Unique Collections department that includes the: University Archives, Archaeology & Anthropology Collections, Center for East Asian Studies Art & Archival Collections, and the World Music Archives.
Reporting to the Dietrich Family Associate University Librarian for Unique Collections, the Head of Special Collections will lead in developing collaborative, sustainable approaches to managing a complex portfolio of Special Collections services, projects, and programs. Additionally, they will work to strengthen the department’s focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism in collections practices.

Responsibilities include:
  • Oversees the housing, preservation, cataloging, and discovery of Special Collections materials and provides leadership in long-range planning for the collection.
  • Leads collection development for rare books, artists’ books, and special collections including working with donors, dealers, other library specialists, and faculty to acquire unique and distinctive items and collections.
  • Develops and instructs classes, through an active program of outreach to faculty, across the curriculum involving rare books, history of the book, manuscripts, and artists’ books. Conducts personal research sessions with students in these areas.
  • Supervises staff, including the Special Collections Cataloging Librarian, undergraduate students, and occasional graduate interns.
  • Oversees the reference services for Special Collections and University Archives. Provides reference services in the reading room, online, and by telephone. Coordinates the reference desk schedule and staffs the desk for 6-8 hours per week.
  • Promotes Special Collections through presentations, exhibits, writings, and other means to the Wesleyan community and beyond with an eye for collaboration and cross-collection promotion.
  • Plans projects and promotes digital access to Special Collections materials.
  • Develops policies and sets priorities for the collection.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the AUL for Unique Collections.

Minimum Qualifications
Master’s degree in a relevant subject area and a minimum of four years of progressively responsible experience (both professional and graduate school experience will be considered) in Special Collections or a related field or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.

In-depth knowledge of the history of printing, book collecting, and the book trade.

Demonstrated experience working with donors and book dealers to grow collections and make acquisitions while working within a budget.
Experience providing instruction in the use of rare books and primary source literacy.

Demonstrated understanding of issues and trends in curricular use of rare books and manuscripts.
Demonstrated experience in supervising, evaluating, and mentoring employees.
Ability to manage projects and a willingness to seek creative solutions to challenges.
Excellent interpersonal skills.
Effective communications skills with the ability to present publicly.
Proven ability to work independently and collaboratively in a team-based environment.
Demonstrated commitment to work within a diverse environment and interact collegially with individuals of different backgrounds.
Strong user-service orientation and desire to work with constituents in an academic environment.
Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends.
Ability to physically engage with the collection, including climbing, lifting, and use of ladders/step stools and the ability to lift up to 40 pounds with our without accommodation.

Preferred Qualifications
Reading knowledge of languages other than English.
Experience in developing collaborative outreach programming for Special Collections in person and/or through online channels.
Experience with digitization projects.
Familiarity with DCRM and best practices for rare book cataloging.
Familiarity with library services platforms, such as ExLibris Alma, and platforms LibAnswers and LibCal.

Special Instructions to Applicants
Position is open until filled. For full consideration please apply by October 13th when first review of applications will begin.
Additional Information
All offers to external applicants are contingent on the candidate’s completion of apre-employment background check screeningto the satisfaction of Wesleyan University.

Wesleyan University, located in Middletown, Connecticut, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religious creed, age, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, marital status, ancestry, present or past history of mental disorder, learning disability or physical disability, political belief, veteran status, sexual orientation, genetic information or non-position-related criminal record. We welcome applications from women and historically underrepresented minority groups. Inquiries regarding Title IX, Section 504 or any other non-discrimination policies should be directed to Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, Title IX and ADA/504 Coordinator. Wesleyan University complies with the Clery Act and maintains records of campus crime statistics and security policies. Copies of Wesleyan University?s Clery Act Report are available on request and online at


Wesleyan University

Wesleyan University, founded in 1831, is a diverse, energetic liberal arts community where critical thinking and practical idealism go hand in hand. 

Our student body of approximately 3,000 undergraduate and 200 graduate students is housed on a beautiful 316-acre historic New England campus that offers the comfort of an intimate and collaborative learning environment supported by renowned faculty, cutting-edge facilities, and unique research opportunities.

With our distinctive scholar-teacher culture, creative programming, and commitment to interdisciplinary learning, Wesleyan challenges students to explore new ideas and change the world. Our graduates go on to lead and innovate in a wide variety of industries, including government, business, entertainment, and science.

At Wesleyan, we are all educators. We welcome your interest in Wesleyan's diverse, energetic community of employees who, by their creativity, innovative thinking, and generosity of spirit, help make Wesleyan a great place to work. In this energetic and inclusive community, our talented faculty and staff foster a liberal arts educational experience characterized by boldness, rigor, and practical idealism. Genuinely open-minded, intellectually curious, and mission-driven, our employees invest their impressive talents in fulfilling careers.

Wesleyan offers a broad range of growth and wellness opportunities—comprehensive health benefitsfitness incentives, generous paid time offretirement plansflexible work schedules, and educational benefits, including free employee access to Wesleyan’s Graduate Liberal Studies program and undergraduate tuition reimbursement for dependents of eligible employees. Benefits-at-a-Glance

Campus life affords employees countless opportunities to experience general-interest, academic, artistic, and athletic events. Our location in scenic central Connecticut provides easy access to Boston, New York, and the many other exciting and culturally rich destinations of New England. Few workplaces are like Wesleyan, and we welcome your interest in learning more about us.

Get job alerts

Create a job alert and receive personalized job recommendations straight to your inbox.

Create alert