Conservator for Special Collections – Cornell University Library, Ithaca, NY

Cornell University Library invites applications for our academic position as Conservator for Special Collections.

Reporting to the Head Conservator, the Conservator for Special Collections, with a focus on the conservation of bound material, will contribute to the preventive care and conservation treatment of the special 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 collections at unit libraries.

The Conservator for Special Collections, with a focus on the conservation of bound material, 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 Special 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
• 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 program (assessment, treatment, and mount construction); plan and conduct enclosure projects as needed
• Participate in environmental monitoring; disaster preparedness and response; and instruction, research and outreach activities
• Provide functional supervision 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
• 2-3 years of professional experience working in a library/archives conservation
• Advanced knowledge of current conservation principles and practices
• Advanced knowledge 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
• Excellent manual dexterity and attention to detail
• Excellent oral and written communication skills
• Excellent interpersonal skills; demonstrated ability to work both independently and as part of a collaborative team
• Creative and flexible problem-solving skills; ability to adapt to changing priorities; excellent time and workflow management; ability to meet deadlines
• Proficiency in digital photography, databases, and Microsoft programs
• 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
• Supervisory experience of student employees, interns, or staff
• Ability to apply and adapt knowledge and skills to a variety of tasks
• Experience with collection management; survey projects; large scale enclosure projects; grant-funded projects; digitization projects

Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.

Environment: 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 more than 400, the Library provides significant collaborative opportunities in support of 2,700 faculty, 22,000 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. Cornell University Library is a member of the ACRL Diversity Alliance.

The Cornell University Library Conservation Lab, founded in 1985, supports the Library’s mission to preserve knowledge and creative expression. The Conservation Lab conserves physical materials in their original format and ensures that library materials are safe during research use, instruction, exhibition, and digitization. The Conservation Lab, well-equipped for rare book, paper, and photograph conservation, circulating book repair, and film assessment, is located in Olin Library on the Arts Quad of the Ithaca, NY campus. 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. Conservation staff reach out to both the local and international communities to train and to advise others about a wide range of conservation topics, including safe handling of collections, basic book repair and disaster preparedness and response. 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.

Salary and benefits: Our comprehensive benefits package includes 22 vacation days, 12 paid holidays, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement, as well as a generous array of programming to support families and well-being. Once before I suffered from attacks of possession and panic attacks. Then my doctor had to prescribe me a tranquilizer strong enough “Valium”. After reading the instructions at , I was surprised by how many contraindications were indicated there. The action was much softer than I had expected. I became much calmer to everything that happened to me. Finally, I began to sleep peacefully. Now, I’m no longer nervous over trifles. Professional travel funding is available. 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.

How to Apply: Candidates must apply online via the Cornell Careers site:—Cornell-University-Library_WDR-00022539-1 . Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until a viable pool of applicants is identified; submission prior to March 20, 2020 is strongly encouraged. Please submit one document (pdf preferred) that includes:

• cover letter
• resume/CV
• full contact information for three professional references
• images, descriptions or external link of 2 or 3 significant treatments or projects

Applicants invited for an interview will be asked to present a portfolio of recent conservation treatments.

Employment Assistance: If you require an accommodation for a disability in order to complete an employment application or to participate in the recruiting process, you are encouraged to contact Cornell University’s Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations at voice (607) 254-7232, fax (607) 255-0298, or email at

Applicants that do not have internet access are encouraged to visit your local library, or local Department of Labor. You may also visit the office of Workforce Recruitment and Retention Monday – Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. to use a dedicated workstation to complete an online application.

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. 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.

With our main campus located in Ithaca, NY, Cornell’s far-flung global presence includes the medical college’s campuses on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and Doha, Qatar, as well as the Cornell Tech campus located on Roosevelt Island in the heart of New York City.

We offer a rich array of services, programs and benefits to help employees advance in their career and enhance the quality of personal life, including employee wellness, workshops, childcare and adoption assistance, parental leave and flexible work options.