Conservator for Rare and Distinctive Collections – Cornell University – Ithaca, NY

The Cornell University Library invites applications for the academic position as Conservator for Rare and Distinctive Collections. This position will be available on July 1, 2021.

Reporting to the Head Conservator, the Conservator for Rare and Distinctive Collections, focusing on bound materials, will contribute to the preventive care and conservation treatment of the special, rare, and distinctive collection holdings of Cornell University Library, including the Rare and Manuscripts Collection, Kroch Library, the Kheel Center for Labor Management Documentation and Archives and the Albert R. Mann Library for Agriculture and Life Sciences, and other special, rare, and distinctive collections at unit libraries.

The Conservator for Rare and Distinctive Collections, focusing on bound materials, will plan and execute a wide range of conservation treatments and construct protective enclosures for rare library and archives collections, as well as participate in digitization projects, housing initiatives, the exhibition program, condition surveying and collection assessment, and occasional instruction. The Conservator for Rare and Distinctive Collections will join the team of conservators, senior conservation technicians, and student assistants, and work collaboratively with digitization staff, librarians, curators, archivists, and technical services staff. This position will require academic contributions to the field of conservation through and participation in professional communities within Cornell and beyond.

Key Opportunities

  • With the Head Conservator, recommend, develop, and prioritize treatment, preventive, and housing solutions for individual items and collections, with a focus on the conservation of bound material, as part of collection management, digitization, exhibition, and instruction
  • Consulting with curators, archivists, librarians, and technical services staff, treat and house a broad range of rare library and archives materials, with a full-range of condition concerns, using a variety of techniques and materials, with a focus on the conservation of bound materials
  • Participate in digitization projects including assessment of treatment, handling, and equipment needs
  • Participate in the exhibition and loan program (assessment, treatment, mount construction, specialized housing); plan and conduct enclosure projects as needed
  • Participate in environmental monitoring; disaster preparedness and response; and instruction, research and outreach activities
  • Provide functional supervision and training for student employees and conservation technicians as needed
  • Assist with conservation planning and program development; maintain statistics and documentation
  • Contribute professionally through participation in professional organizations, working groups, research, publication, and presentations

Required Qualifications

  • MLIS, or a Master’s degree in conservation or other relevant discipline and 2-3 years of professional experience working in a library/archives conservation
  • Advanced knowledge of current conservation theory, principles, and practices and its application in a research library and of the history, fabrication, and conservation treatment of library/archives collections, including knowledge of historic and modern book structures, sewing styles, and bookbinding; knowledge of a variety of conservation treatments for bound materials, including leather; familiarity with the wide-ranging material formats and concerns of archives collections
  • Advanced knowledge of the chemical and physical properties of library/archives collections; advanced understanding of causes of deterioration
  • Proven ability to cultivate an environment of diversity and inclusion or other competencies related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Active engagement in professional development, seeking relevant training and education
  • Preferred Qualifications

  • 3-5 years of professional experience working in library/archives conservation
  • Advanced progression in independence, complexity, and mastery of conservation tasks
  • Workflow and project management experience; experience in collection management; survey projects; large scale enclosure projects; grant-funded projects; digitization projects
  • Supervisory experience of student employees, interns, or staff; instruction experience

Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Diversity and Inclusion

Cornell University Library embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students, faculty and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented identities to apply.

Cornell University Library is a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance, which unites academic libraries who are committed to increasing the hiring pipeline of qualified and talented individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.


Our comprehensive benefits package includes 22 vacation days, 13 paid holidays, health insurance, life insurance, university retirement contributions, childcare and adoption assistance, and child tuition reimbursement. Funding is available to support professional training and research. More information regarding Cornell’s generous benefits can be found at . The anticipated academic rank for this position is Assistant Librarian or Senior Assistant Librarian, with an anticipated salary range of $52,500 to $60,000. The offer will be dependent on the skills and experience of the selected candidate.
Relocation assistance may be provided.

The safety and well-being of applicants and our team members is of the utmost importance. Because of campus closures and the likelihood of ongoing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we anticipate conducting virtual interviews with qualified candidates.

This position is located in Ithaca, New York. The successful applicant will be expected to work on the Ithaca campus, although they may be permitted to perform a portion of their work remotely while the COVID-19 pandemic continues (e.g. 1 day/week).

How to Apply

Candidates must apply online via the Cornell Careers site:—Cornell-University-Library_WDR-00024684-1 . Incoming applications will be reviewed until a viable pool of applicants is identified; submission prior to February 17, 2021 is strongly encouraged. Please submit one document (pdf preferred) that contains:

  1. A cover letter;
  2. A Curriculum Vitae;
  3. A Statement of “Contribution to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” Candidates are invited to describe past, present, and/or future aspirations for promoting equity, inclusion, and diversity in their careers as researchers and educators, and/or to convey how they see these commitments continuing at Cornell. Such articulation may focus on teaching, research, or service, or all three factors;
  4. Images and descriptions, or an external link, of 3 significant projects (e.g., treatment, research, assessment)
  5. The names, phone numbers, and addresses for three references.


Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery and engagement. 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 close to 400, the Library provides significant collaborative opportunities in support of 2,700 faculty, 24,000 students and 94 PhD fields. Its world class collections, expert librarians, and responsive services in physical and virtual library spaces inspire and nourish scholarship and learning.

The Cornell University Library Conservation Lab, founded in 1985, is located in Olin Library on the Arts Quad of the Ithaca, New York campus. The Conservation Lab supports the mission of Cornell University Library by ensuring the longevity of, continued access to, and discovery of the Library’s diverse physical collections, through a comprehensive and strategic program of specialized expertise, proactive stewardship, and collaboration. The Conservation Lab and its staff are well-equipped to preserve and protect the rare and distinctive, and circulating collections, including bound materials, paper-based collections, photographic collections, artifacts, and A/V media, with a focus on maintaining historical, evidentiary, aesthetic, and/or research value. Conservation Lab staff engage in on-going training to meet the current and developing needs of the collections, have deep knowledge and experience in the preservation of all collection formats, and utilize nationally accepted, specialized materials, techniques, and methods to preserve and protect CUL physical library collections. The Conservation Lab works closely with unit libraries across campus, digitization and AV preservation staff, curators, archivists, and technical services staff, supporting the lifecycle of collections at Cornell University Library. To learn more about the Conservation Lab, please visit our website, Facebook page, and our Conservation Blog. The Conservation Lab follows the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.

The Ithaca campus sits on 2,300 acres in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. Ithaca, located roughly halfway between Manhattan and Toronto, offers a wealth of cultural activities while maintaining an eclectic college-town feel. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of rolling hills, breathtaking gorges, hiking trails, and lakes offering countless outdoor activities. The city has been named one of the top 100 places to live, a top 10 recreation city, a best green place to live, and one of the “foodiest” towns in America.

We acknowledge that Cornell is located on Indigenous Lands of the Cayuga Nation and recognize the Indigenous peoples who have lived and continue to live here. In so doing, we acknowledge Cayuga Nation sovereignty and their long-standing presence on this land, which precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America.


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For general questions about the position or the application process, please contact the Recruiter listed in the job posting.

Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor.

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EEO Statement: Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans and Individuals with Disabilities. According to the published data on, it is said that you should not take Klonopin simultaneously with MAO inhibitors and phenothiazine derivatives. The drug should not be taken on the eve and during work for drivers of transport and persons whose work requires a quick mental and physical reaction. During treatment with the drug, it is necessary to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations. Cornell University is an innovative Ivy League university and a great place to work. Our inclusive community of scholars, students, and staff impart an uncommon sense of larger purpose, and contribute creative ideas to further the university’s mission of teaching, discovery, and engagement.

About John Pell

John Pell is an assistant professor and librarian at Hunter College in New York City.