Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture – Harvard University – Cambridge, MA

Harvard University
Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture
Harvard College Library

Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on January 3, 2022.

Job Summary

The Fine Arts Library at Harvard University seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture to build and manage collections related to the art, architecture and visual culture of the Islamic world in all formats. Reporting to the Herman and Joan Suit Librarian of the Fine Arts Library, the incumbent will steward and develop collections, services, and programs to support the research, teaching, and learning needs of faculty, students, and fellows affiliated with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University, as well as the broader community at Harvard. To expand access to the library’s unparalleled holdings in Islamic Art and Architecture, the incumbent will participate in local, national, and international digital initiatives and collaborative collection development partnerships.

Job Code
386057 Library Professional

Job-Specific Responsibilities 

Collection Development, Management, and Access

  • Performs collection development processes for Islamic art and architecture in all formats to maintain a comprehensive research collection and cultivate new acquisitions on an ongoing basis, ensuring that diverse perspectives, underrepresented artists and artistic traditions, multiple languages, and at-risk cultural heritage within the Islamic world are meaningfully represented.
  • Establishes effective working relationships with approval, firm order, serial, and electronic resource vendors, as well as works collaboratively with Information Technology Services staff to ensure efficient vendor relations and materials processing workflows.
  • Stewards FAL’s annual allocation from the Aga Khan endowment fund and other related endowed funds, in collaboration with Suit Librarian, including budget planning and monitoring acquisition fund assignments.
  • Continuously evaluates scholarly publication trends in Islamic art and architectural history, so that the collection responds to evolving disciplinary areas and methods of scholarship.
  • Works collaboratively with FAL librarians to oversee overall collection management, preservation, and access to the library’s holdings.
  • Collaborates with FAL librarians to negotiate, acknowledge, and process gifts of materials and funds.
  • Together with the Photographic Resources Librarian and Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture, acquires photographic materials and prioritizes items for digitization, preservation, or special projects.
  • Together with the Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture, develops long-range digital strategy for Islamic visual collections and implements projects involving exhibition, digitization, and dissemination.
  • Contributes to the promotion of FAL materials related to the Islamic world, using social media tools, online exhibition platforms, and emerging technologies.
  • Exchanges information and best practices with selectors across Harvard Library to coordinate acquisitions, in particular the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Division in Widener Library and the Frances Loeb Library at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
  • Contributes to professional organizations at the national and international level and uses knowledge to enrich local collections, services, and programs.

Basic Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in library and/or information science or equivalent experience
  • Advanced degree or equivalent work experience in the history of art and architecture of Islamic cultures, or the equivalent combination of education, experience, and/or background, etc.
  •  2+ years related professional experience
  • Demonstrated ability to effectively support the information needs of faculty, students, and advanced researchers
  • Knowledge of at least one language relevant to the collection (e.g., Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, etc.)

Additional Qualifications and Skills 

  • 5+ years related professional experience preferred
  • Extensive in-depth subject knowledge of the field of Islamic Art and Architectural History
  • Working knowledge of more than one language relevant to the collection (e.g., Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, etc.)
  • Working knowledge of Western European languages (e.g., French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc.)
  • Hands-on experience with library acquisitions, budgeting, and reporting applications
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills to work effectively with culturally diverse library users and colleagues
  • Experience working with special collections in an academic setting
  • Demonstrated knowledge of print and digital publishing and scholarly communications in the Islamic world
  • Strong technology skills and an enthusiasm for adopting innovative approaches that expand access to collections and to facilitate their use in research, teaching, and learning
  • Record of engagement with professional groups and activities and/or contributions to professional or scholarly literature

Physical Requirements 

  • The ability to use desktop (keyboard, monitor, and mouse) and mobile computing tools, such as laptops and tablets
  • The ability to lift, carry, and position books and other materials weighing up 15 lbs.

Additional Information
Job Specific Responsibilities Continued

Outreach and Engagement

  • Provides subject-specific reference, research, and instruction services for Islamic art and architectural history for faculty, students, and researchers throughout the University community
  • Promotes services and sets collection priorities based on research and curricular needs of faculty, students, fellows, and staff affiliated with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University, as well as the Department of History of Art and Architecture, The Aga Khan Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, The Center for Middle East Studies, The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Art, Film, and Visual Studies, and The Harvard Art Museums, among others
  • Participates in FAL’s general research, teaching, and learning services, including contributing to regular hours of support for special collections researchers in collaboration with other librarians
  • Collaborates with FAL staff in developing, assessing, and promoting services and collections to effectively meet user needs
  • Actively participates in relevant committees, working groups, and task-forces across Harvard Library
  • Cultivates strategic external partnerships to develop and expand access to collections, in particular the Aga Khan Documentation Center @ MIT Libraries

Job Function
Sub Unit
USA – MA – Cambridge
Fine Arts Library
Time Status
00 – Non Union, Exempt or Temporary
Pre-Employment Screening
Criminal, Education, Identity

EEO Statement
We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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About Melody Rood

Student Success & Open Education Librarian / Assistant Professor at UNC-Greensboro