Job Opening: University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

Rare Book Conservator

Position Available:  This position is available as soon as possible.  This is a 100% time, twelve month appointment Academic Professional position in the University Library.

Duties and Responsibilities

Reporting to the Head of Preservation Services, the Rare Book Conservator is responsible for the conservation treatment of rare and unique bound library materials, generally those requiring individual treatment, as well as keeping written records and photo-documentation of such work.  The Conservator will perform complex conservation treatment on rare book and special collections materials including re-sewing; leather and vellum rebinding and binding conservation; gold and blind tooling; conservation of paper and parchment, including aqueous and chemical treatment, and the creation of custom protective enclosures for a variety of rare and archival materials.  The Conservator will assist in the preparation of rare and special collections materials for exhibition including mount making, complete condition assessments, and assist in the management of preventative care.  This position will provide conservation support to locations holding rare book and special collections materials by arranging workflow and identifying treatments in close consultation with collection managers and curators and by aiding in the development of care and handling guidelines for such materials.

The Rare Book Conservator supports the Conservation Program in general training and education programs, working with practicum students, interns, and volunteers, and may supervise hourly staff, graduate assistants, or interns as positions are available.  This position will also advise digitization staff in the handling and necessary conservation of materials relating to digitization of rare book materials.  The position also participates in overall conservation planning, program development, research, disaster planning and response.


The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) Library is a leader in the delivery of user services, and active programs in information, instructional, access, and scholarly services help the Library to maintain its place at the intellectual heart of the campus. The Library also holds one of the preeminent research collections in the world, encompassing more than 12 million volumes and a total of more than 23 million items. The Library is committed to maintaining the strongest collections and service programs possible, and to engaging in research, development, and scholarly practice – all of which support the University’s missions of teaching, research, and public engagement. The Library employs approximately 90 faculty members, and more than 300 academic professionals, staff, and graduate assistants. For more information, see:

The Preservation Services Unit at the University of Illinois Library operates with the holistic vision of developing a comprehensive preservation, conservation, and imaging program for the entire library system.  The Conservation Lab consists of both collections conservation as well as special collections conservation functions in a shared 5,000 square foot lab space, and employs two endowed professional conservators as well as support staff, graduate students, hourly student assistants, volunteers and conservation interns.  The Unit also assists in the education, planning and development of the overall preservation program for the Library. For more information on the Preservation Services program, visit


Required: Extensive knowledge of book and paper conservation principles and practices; Extensive knowledge of the physical and chemical nature of books and paper, as evidenced by a graduate degree in conservation or in a related field such as history, art history, library science, museum studies, chemistry, materials science, and/or studio art; Demonstratedability to perform complex conservation treatments on rare books, as evidenced by a conservation portfolio; Extensive knowledge of the history of bookbinding; Excellent written and oral communication skills

Preferred: Two or more years of professional conservation experience; Experience working collaboratively in a research library and/or archives; Demonstrated experience in dealing with the intellectual issues involved in the use of research library collections; Supervisory experience; Experience with databases and integrated library systems; Working knowledge and practice of digital photodocumentation; Demonstrable experience working in exhibition preparation of book materials; Demonstrable experience training staff or public on conservation principles and practices; Knowledge of digitization practices as they relate to rare books and/or special collections materials.

Salary:  Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience and credentials.

Terms of appointment:  Twelve-month appointment; 24 annual vacation days; 11 annual paid holidays; 12 annual sick-leave days (cumulative), plus an additional 13 sick-leave days (non-cumulative) available, if needed, each year; health insurance requiring a small co-payment is provided to employee (with the option to purchase coverage for spouse and dependents); required participation in State Universities Retirement System (SURS) (8% of annual salary is withheld and is refundable upon termination), with several options for participation in additional retirement plans; newly-hired employees are covered by the Medicare portion of Social Security and are subject to its deduction.

Campus and Community: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a comprehensive and major public land-grant university (Doctoral/Research University-Extensive) that is ranked among the best in the world. Chartered in 1867, it provides undergraduate and graduate education in more than 150 fields of study, conducts theoretical and applied research, and provides public service to the state and the nation. It employs 3,000 faculty members who serve 31,000 undergraduates and 12,000 graduate and professional students; approximately 25% of faculty receives campus-wide recognition each year for excellence in teaching. More information about the campus is available at

The University is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, which have a combined population of 100,000 and are situated about 140 miles south of Chicago, 120 miles west of Indianapolis, and 170 northeast of St. Louis. The University and its surrounding communities offer a cultural and recreational environment ideally suited to the work of a major research institution. For more information about the community, visit: or

To Apply: To ensure full consideration, please complete your candidate profile at and upload a letter of interest, resume, contact information including email addresses for three professional references.  Uploaded documentation (including image, pdf, or word-processing files) of three most significant treatments, or provide an external link to these in the cover letter. This document should be upload as “Writing Sample.”  Applications not submitted through this website will not be considered. For questions, please call: 217-333-8169.

Deadline:  In order to ensure full consideration, applications and nominations must be received by August 10, 2015.


Illinois is an Affirmative Action /Equal Opportunity Employer and welcomes individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas who embrace and value diversity and inclusivity.

Job Opening: Harry Ransom Center (Univ. of Texas at Austin)

Associate Director – Associate Director and Head of Preservation and Conservation

To provide leadership and direction for conservation initiatives of the Harry Ransom Center, to manage its conservation and preservation activities, to oversee three labs dedicated to book, paper, and photograph conservation, as well as a preservation unit, and to serve on the senior leadership team of the Center.

Essential Functions
Manage the Ransom Center Preservation and Conservation Department of approximately nine staff members, oversee departmental activities, and manage the departmental budget and grant administration. Consult with the Ransom Center curators, librarians, and archivists to establish conservation priorities, balancing institutional priorities with the needs of the active exhibition and loan program of the Center. Investigate new strategies and technologies to address challenges to long-term preservation and access. Maintain an effective disaster recovery plan and conduct periodic training and drills to ensure preparedness for a variety of threats to the collections of the Center. Train and educate the staff of the Center about proper handling of collection materials. Serve on the Ransom Center senior leadership team. Conceive of and develop funding proposals for project-based initiatives that further the collection care goals of the Center. Advise the Ransom Center Director and the Building Manager on maintaining an optimum preservation environment for the diverse formats of materials housed by the Center. Represent conservation priorities in long-range space planning and capital improvement projects. Cultivate a culture of innovation and continuous improvement and foster the ongoing growth and professional development of the highly skilled conservators of the Center.

Required qualifications
ALA-accredited MLS or Master’s degree in conservation of library and archival materials. Equivalent combination of relevant education and experience may be substituted as appropriate. Five or more years experience leading a conservation lab or program with evidence of increasing responsibilities, including managerial experience. Demonstrated knowledge of conservation principles, practices, and procedures and knowledge of standards and systems for recording and managing conservation documentation. Demonstrated ability to use excellent interpersonal communication skills to work collaboratively with curators, librarians, or archivists and other colleagues. Record of successful service within the national conservation community. Record of giving presentations to diverse, public audiences. Excellent oral and written presentation skills.

Preferred Qualifications
Eight or more years of experience as a book, paper, or photograph conservator. More than five years of experience managing a conservation department and hiring and supervising staff. Demonstrated experience developing successful funding proposals. Demonstrated experience building relationships with donors. Experience training or educating interns. Experience developing or participating in the development of a conservation program or lab.

The full description including salary and application information can be found online at

Exhibit of Rare Books at University of Dayton (Dayton, Ohio)

I had the opportunity to get a sneak peak at the new exhibit at the University of Dayton’s Roesch Library this weekend. If you are anywhere near Dayton in the next five weeks, I encourage you to drop by. It is an amazing collection of books and writing from papyri to fine bindings. From the press release:

Some of the rarest books in the world will be on display at the University of Dayton this fall, from authors like Austen, Chaucer, Copernicus, Marie Curie, Shakespeare and Mark Twain.

“Imprints and Impressions: Milestones in Human Progress” will feature first editions, manuscripts, galley proofs, papyri and illustrations spanning the scholarly spectrum from philosophy to physics. The free, public exhibit runs Sept. 29 through Nov. 9 in the Roesch Library first-floor gallery on the University of Dayton campus.

Johannes Kepler, “Astronomia Nova (New Astronomy),” Heidelberg or Prague, 1609. First edition.

The books and manuscripts are on loan from Stuart Rose, a Dayton-area businessman who has assembled one of the most accomplished collections of its kind in private hands, said rare book expert Nicholas Basbanes, author of several books, including A Gentle Madness, about book lovers and the lengths collectors go to find their treasures.

Basbanes said “Imprints and Impressions” is a rare opportunity to glimpse manuscripts and early editions that are often kept out of public view in private collections or locked in rooms at libraries.

“I don’t recall an exhibition quite like this in recent memory, certainly not one as comprehensive in scope as this, and with all the material coming from one private collection,” Basbanes said. “Stuart Rose has collected grandly, and in many areas. Most collectors of any consequence aspire to have at least one great book on their shelves. He has dozens, and there is nothing that is trivial or insignificant.”

Basbanes will kick off the exhibit with a lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29, in the Kennedy Union ballroom, followed by the public opening of the exhibit in Roesch Library. His address is one of more than 18 events around the exhibit expanding on co-curricular learning through talks, workshops and performances, with many open to the public.

For links to the amazing online exhibit, hours and directions, and other information, see the Roesch Library website.

Workshop: Photo Conservation for Book and Paper Conservators

From PADG, a post by Gawain Weaver that we wanted to pass along.

Photograph Conservation for Book and Paper Conservators

October 14-17, 2014
Duke University Libraries
Durham, NC

Instructors: Gawain Weaver and Jennifer Olsen

Course Description

Libraries and archives collect more than books and manuscripts. Textiles, digital files and audio-visual materials are common in collections. Photographs are probably the most-represented media after paper-based objects, but their value is usually to the collection as a whole not as individual artist’s prints. Conservators working in libraries and archives are charged with their care, but often feel they don’t have the knowledge and skills to address basic conservation issues at the collection level. In this class, conservators will learn basic cleaning, stabilization, and repair techniques for 19th and 20th century photographic prints and negatives. While the focus will be on practical treatment skills, there will also be basic instruction about the history and composition of photographs, and housing and exhibit strategies.
Basic process identification will not be covered in depth. Though it is not a prerequisite, a Care and Identification of Photographs workshop is taught several times a year in the U.S. and internationally and provides a solid foundation for this more advanced course.


4-day workshop, mix of lecture and hands-on instruction, 4-day schedule available on request

Who Should Attend

This class is taught at an intermediate to advanced level. Participants should have experience in book or paper conservation in evaluating condition, making treatment decisions, and performing intermediate to advanced level conservation treatments.

What’s Included

4-days of instruction, color workshop notebook, a variety of damaged photographic materials for workshop treatment and take home, 60x handheld microscope. Participants should bring their own tools though some will be provided.

How To Apply

Application deadline July 1st, responses sent by July 15th.

Send CV and a brief letter explaining your reasons for attending the workshop to Mid-career experience level in book or paper conservation strongly preferred. Applications accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis after the deadline if there is still space in the workshop. Workshop registration and materials fee of US$1500.00 payable upon acceptance.

Gawain Weaver
Photograph Conservator
San Francisco Bay Area
tel 415.446.9138

We ran this workshop last year for the first time at the Huntington Library. It went very well and we got a lot of positive feedback from participants. We’re running it again this year at Duke University with only minor modifications based on last year’s experience. Although it may run again in the future in the US there are no plans to do so at this time.


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In the News: Nicholas Basbanes on the enduring importance of paper | WaPost

“On Paper,” Basbanes’s ninth book, was supported by a grant from the NEH. Although it was only published Oct. 14, the author noted proudly that it’s already gone into a second printing. Yes, on paper.

via Nicholas Basbanes on the enduring importance of paper.

Preservation Statistics Survey: FY2012 Report

Sixty-two institutions completed this pilot survey to document preservation activities in U.S. libraries, museums, archives, and other cultural heritage institutions.  Picking up the ball and moving it down the field from where the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) left off when the Preservation Statistics program was discontinued in 2007, the report examines how respondents are organizing and administering traditional and digital preservation programs and chronicles their preventive preservation (disaster planning, environmental monitoring, outreach and education), conservation, and reformatting / digitization activities.  Additionally, the report assesses trends in the preservation programs of academic and research libraries in the five year span between the last ARL Preservation Statistics Survey in 2007 to this pilot survey in 2012 based on the responses provided by the thirty-four Association of Research Library (ARL) members who participated in this pilot survey.  

Find the report — including links to the survey data — online as a Google Doc:

Also find our temporary online home for the Preservation Statistics project (including helpful links to related preservation surveys and the latest news about the upcoming FY2013 Preservation Statistics Survey) at:

The FY2013 Preservation Statistics Survey will be released in January 2014 and open through March 2014.  The survey questionnaire will not change much from the pilot FY2012 survey; instead, the focus will be refinement of the Instructions and Definitions and improvements to the online survey form to create a better user experience.  Additionally, the FY2013 survey will likely be open only to U.S. libraries.  As a model of success is developed with ALA and the library community, plans include collaboration with SAA, AAM, and others to more broadly document and analyze cultural heritage preservation activities. 

Please contact the Preservation Statistics Survey team with any questions or feedback:

MIT Libraries Announces New Conservator

The MIT Libraries are delighted to announce that Jana Dambrogio will join our staff in September as the Thomas F. Peterson (1957) Conservator. In this role she will manage MIT’s special collections conservation program–planning and executing conservation treatments for the physical maintenance of rare books, archives, and manuscripts. She will also contribute to the Libraries’ overall preservation strategy. Dambrogio comes from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) where she has been a senior conservator since 2004. In addition to her work at NARA, she brings an impressive array of experience from consultancies, fellowships, and internships at other well-known national and international institutions.

See the MIT Libraries News blog for details.


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