Curator of Literature - Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Posted on December 26, 2018


The Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) seeks an accomplished and creative professional to serve as its Curator of Literature. The Curator will be primarily responsible for developing, managing and actively promoting the use of RBML literature collections through programmatic outreach, awareness, public programs and instructional activities.

Reporting to the Director, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Curator of Literature will develop RBML holdings in literature in all formats (e.g., print and archives) through purchase and donation. The Curator will also steward literature collections that are in place, prioritizing their organization, description, conservation, digitization, and security. The Curator will help to create relevant guides, directories, and finding aids to the collections for Columbia students and faculty. The Curator will provide proactive outreach and instruction for Columbia University faculty and students as well as for faculty and students in the greater NYC area. One of eight full-time curators in RBML, the Curator of Literature will liaison with relevant Library bibliographers and other special collections staff and with colleagues in the greater NYC area. The Curator contributes to the general RBML public services program.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Columbia University’s largest repository for primary source collections. The range of collections in the RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise rare printed works, cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets, papyri, and Coptic ostraca; medieval and renaissance manuscripts; as well as art, photography, and realia. Some 500,000 printed books and 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, organizational archives and records form the core of RBML holdings. Though very broad in scope, RBML’s Literature collections concentrate around the history of publishing, “obscene” or erotic literature, poetry between the World Wars, the European realist novel, the Beats, African-American literature of the twentieth century, and contemporary poetry, as well as eighteenth-century belles lettres, the novel, fine press and artist books, and twentieth-century small press production. Other RBML collecting strengths include American History, journalism, comics, graphic arts, human rights, the performing arts, and Russian and East European émigré art and culture. The RBML is also home to the University Archives and the archival arm of the Columbia Center for Oral History. For more information about RBML collections and services, see



Minimum Qualifications: MLIS or PhD or Equivalent combination of education and experience Demonstrated experience working in a special collections unit of research library Demonstrated experience in teaching and research support. Strong organizational skills and excellent oral and written communication skills. Experience curating and preparing library exhibitions Ability to work independently; demonstrated ability to teach effectively Demonstrated ability to work collegially and collaboratively with diverse groups, across a complex organization

Preferred Qualifications: PhD preferably in English or American Literature Working knowledge of and comfort with relevant web applications in the humanities Knowledge of online sources, databases, and sites relating to special collections Experience with public programming Experience in preparing catalogues and guides. Established scholarly profile in literature or related field.


New York, NY


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