Director of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections – Cornell University – Ithaca, New York

Details or description Position Vacancy – Director of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections

The Cornell University Library (CUL) stands at the center of intellectual life at the university, fostering connections and knowledge that help faculty, students, and researchers from around the world excel in research, scholarship and creative expression. It supports and enhances faculty and student productivity through its extensive collections, cutting-edge services and facilities, and a deep network of digital resources. Its impact reaches beyond campus boundaries with initiatives that extend the universitya��s land grant mission to a global focus.

CUL seeks an energetic and visionary leader for the position of Director of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC). RMCa��s growing collections are outstanding, and the dynamic staff have long been engaged in leading programs of teaching, outreach, and digitization that promote the use of Cornella��s unique and vibrant holdingsa��from Dante to Hip Hop. The new Director will serve as a forward-looking, innovative leader within the Library and the University in support of Cornella��s mission of research, teaching, and community engagement. The successful candidate will:

  • Have the opportunity to conceptualize and implement a vision for a world-class 21st century cultural repository of traditional and born digital materials;
  • Build collaborative relationships within the library, across campus, and with partner institutions;
  • Develop strong relationships with faculty, donors, funding agencies, and community organizations;
  • Foster a dynamic and innovative work environment;
  • Explore and implement emerging technologies for the discovery, delivery, and preservation of special collection materials;
  • Showcase the valuable and significant collections in RMC to a broad audience of in-person visitors and online communities; and
  • Lead RMCa��s administration, staff, programs, and collection development and budgetary activities.

Duties and Responsibilities:

Reporting to the Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Special Collections, the Director provides leadership for Cornella��s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC). The incumbent provides overall direction and mentoring for 20+ staff (8 academic, 13 non-academic), including direct supervision of the Assistant Director for Collections, the Head of Research Services, the Head of Technical Services and four other curators/archivists.

The Director will provide leadership and vision to develop and implement strategic plans to preserve and promote Cornella��s status as one of the premier repositories of rare books and manuscript collections in the nation. These plans will continue and enhance the provision of high-quality services, the acquisition of strong research collections, the development of cutting-edge technical services for access and discovery, a popular and informative program of exhibits and outreach, and an on-going, critical assessment of each of these areas. Above all, the Director will foster a flexible, collaborative work environment focusing on the mentoring and development of highly talented individual staff.

The Director will maintain and develop a wide range of contacts and relationships with materials donors, antiquarian dealers, grant agencies and foundations, other Cornell library departments, and peers in other research repositories. The incumbent will work closely with the University Librarian, the Library Director of Alumni Affairs and Development and with library and university administrators to aggressively pursue and steward donors, grant and endowment funding, and publicity opportunities.


  • Minimum of 5 years of professional experience leading special collections/archival services/operations and demonstrated evidence of progressive responsibility for leadership and administration in a large academic or research library.
  • Graduate degree in a relevant discipline such as library and information science or archival studies or in an appropriate subject discipline and special collections or archival training.
  • Ability to lead and articulate a vision for special collections and to provide leadership to achieve organizational goals and priorities. Demonstrated leadership and analytical skills, creative and innovative problem-solving skills, and a strong commitment to service excellence. Evidence of success in strategic planning, introducing and managing change in complex environments, budget planning and allocation in large organizations. Ability to work independently, be proactive, flexible, and collaborate as a team leader to accomplish library and division goals.
  • Professional involvement in the field of archives or rare books and manuscripts librarianship, including a significant record of participation in professional associations (such as the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries, or the Society of American Archivists) and a record of scholarly engagement, demonstrated through publications and presentations.
  • Knowledge and understanding of key issues and trends in special collections in large academic research libraries.
  • Demonstrated understanding of and receptiveness to the uses of emerging technologies in archival and special collections.
  • Ability to initiate and maintain cooperative working relationships with senior library administrators, co-workers, supervisors, and managers. Ability to work harmoniously and as a team player, thrive in a team-based environment, and provide skills in fostering teamwork among others.
  • Experience and demonstrated skill in supervision, including hiring, orienting, training, and development, organizing workflows, delegating responsibility, providing direction, monitoring and evaluating performance, coaching and counseling, and taking disciplinary action as necessary.
  • Demonstrated success in fundraising, including grants and individual and corporate awards.
  • Commitment to fostering a diverse educational environment and workplace and an ability to work effectively with a diverse faculty and student population.


  • Doctoral degree or second Mastera��s in a relevant academic discipline.


The Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections is Cornella��s principal repository of rare books, manuscripts, and archival materials. The Division holds over 480,000 printed volumes, more than 80 million manuscripts, and another million photographs, paintings, prints, and other visual media. Among these are particularly strong collections of early photography, the history of science, human sexuality, witchcraft, the French Revolution, the Civil War and the abolitionist movement, Dante and Petrarch, Icelandic history and literature, new media art, and musical movements such as Hip Hop and punk. The Division is also home to Cornell Universitya��s Archives.

One of the leading academic research libraries in the United States, Cornell University Library is a highly valued partner in teaching, research and learning at the university. With an operating budget of over $58 million and a diverse and innovative staff of more than 400, the Library supports 2,700 faculty, 22,000 students and 94 PhD fields. Its world class collections, expert librarians, responsive services in physical and virtual library spaces inspire and nourish scholarship and learning.

Cornell University is an Ivy League comprehensive research university located in Ithaca in the scenic Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The town and university offer a unique cosmopolitan and international atmosphere in a beautiful natural setting of waterfalls, gorges, and lakes.


Comprehensive benefits package including 22 vacation days, 11 paid holidays, health insurance, life insurance, and university retirement contributions (TIAA-CREF and other options), as well as exceptional work/life support programs. Professional travel funding available.

Application Procedure:

Review of applications will begin immediately. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. To apply for this position go to and select the Information for all applicants link, the external or internal applicant link, and search under the job category of Staff and Librarians. This posting is job requisition number 20406. Follow the instructions for online submission a�� only online submissions will be accepted. Please include a cover letter, resume, and the names, phone numbers, and addresses for three references. Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience. Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, is an inclusive, dynamic, and innovative Ivy League university and New York’s land grant institution. Its staff, faculty, and students impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute creative ideas and best practices to further the university’s mission of teaching, research, and outreach. We value qualified candidates who can bring to our community a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

Cornell University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer.

Comments are closed.