Research Services Librarian – Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard University

Research Services Librarian
Harvard College Library

Job Summary

Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on December 10, 2021.

Houghton Library, the primary repository for Harvard’s rare books and manuscripts, seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Research Services Librarian. Reporting to the Associate Librarian for Public Services, this position has primary responsibility for managing and coordinating all reading room activities, including staff training and scheduling. In conjunction with department colleagues, this position optimizes access systems and proposes new services and workflows as appropriate.

The Research Services Librarian works positively and inclusively with students, faculty, and the public, guiding users in discovering, using, and evaluating resources, explaining techniques, policies, and procedures, and empowering users to conduct research in Harvard’s distinctive collections. The Research Services Librarian also participates in Houghton Library’s teaching and learning initiatives, including classroom instruction, January-term classes, and outreach activities.

The Research Librarian works alongside colleagues and the Associate Librarian for Public Services to establish and maintain a welcoming and secure reading room, data driven operations, and a lively and inclusive special collections library.

Job Code
386057 Library Professional

Job-Specific Responsibilities

• Design and administer service model that delivers high-quality user-centered services; explore and implement changes to service model and supporting processes.
• Manage the Houghton Reading Room and its operations, including assisting patrons, materials circulation, safe handling of collections, and reading room supplies.
• Administer Houghton’s system for registering patrons and tracking their requests for and use of collection materials; work with collections management colleagues and other staff to ensure collection material is onsite and ready for use when patrons arrive in the reading room.
• Create and maintain training materials and manuals for desk staff and student assistants and provide training for consistent, courteous, efficient, and equitable patron service.
• Coordinate, maintain, and analyze circulation, reference, and other use statistics; prepare annual reports on reading room operations.
• Set and maintain schedules for reading room, reference, and lobby coverage; maintain hours on the library website.
• Provide in-person and virtual reference assistance as needed, including 4-6 hours of weekly reference desk shifts, one evening shift (5-7pm), and a rotating 8-hour Saturday shift.
• Ensure excellent service, friendly reception, and positive research interactions for researchers of all skill levels using Houghton collections.
• Work across curatorial areas (Printing & Graphic Arts, Early Books and Manuscripts, Early Modern Books and Manuscripts, Modern Books and Manuscripts, and the Harvard Theatre Collection) to prepare and lead instruction sessions with primary source materials, including evaluating and selecting materials, developing class plans, and collaborating with faculty on assignment design and learning outcomes.
• Promote inclusive teaching practices and a commitment to accessibility in the development and delivery of services and programs.
• Build and foster collaborative relationships with Houghton departments and librarians and archivists across the Harvard Library.
• Participate in ongoing learning and professional development relevant to position responsibilities and delivery of services and programs, as well as Houghton and Harvard Library committees and special projects. Collaborates with colleagues outside of Harvard and in national professional organizations.
• Supervise Library Assistant(s) and Public Services Assistant(s). Responsible for performance management, coaching, and workflow supervision. Manages students as needed.

Basic Qualifications

• Master’s degree in library and/or information science or equivalent experience
• Two or more years of professional experience in instruction and reference in an academic or research library environment
• Experience in providing reference and instruction in rare books, manuscripts, and archives
• Experience with research and teaching trends, methods, and best practices

Additional Qualifications and Skills

• Ability to manage complex projects and deliver to deadlines
• Demonstrated initiative, flexibility, and ability to work collegially and creatively within and across organizations
• A commitment to diversity and to serving the needs of a diverse population
• Strong customer service orientation and success in improving the user experience
• Capacity to thrive in a changing working environment
• Ability to develop and sustain effective collaborations with students, faculty, academic departments and/or academic support units, including working efficiently across disciplines and with diverse populations
• Experience with assessment tools and methods
• Excellent written and oral communication
• High level judgment and discretion, and comfort with ambiguity
• Strategic thinking, negotiation, and change management skills
• Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
• Commitment to positive, solutions-driven responses to challenges
• Supervisory experience
• Experience with or willingness to adopt new technologies and systems that expand access to collections and facilitate their use in research and teaching.
• Record of engagement with professional groups and activities and/or contributions to professional or scholarly literature
• Working knowledge of a language other than English including, but not limited to Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, or any Non-Roman script [or alphabet] language

Additional Information


Across the Harvard Library, our work is enriched by our diverse campus community. Our unique and wide-ranging abilities, experiences, and perspectives are integral to achieving Harvard University’s mission of excellence in research, teaching, and learning for our patrons, our collections, and our workplace. We believe that an inclusive environment that cultivates and promotes understanding, respect, and collaboration across our diverse workforce enables our success.

We invite individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to be a part of our community of over 700 staff members. Our work with faculty, students and researchers to explore answers to intellectual questions, enduring and new, and to seek solutions to the world’s most consequential problems, requires that we not only reflect, but also champion our diverse society.

Harvard Library inspires collaboration, reflection, experimentation, and discovery connecting users to related disciplines and to University-wide teaching resources. The Library engages users through curated discovery, digital collections, reimagined physical space, and specialized research support. Today, Harvard Library’s holdings range from traditional print collections to rapidly expanding access to digital resources. Harvard Library provides the University’s faculty, students, and researchers-now and in the future-with exceptional experiences and comprehensive access to these materials.

Learn more about our contributions to the academic enterprise by visiting us at and about the Harvard University community at

The Harvard Library is a proud member of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Alliance

Job Function

Sub Unit

USA – MA – Cambridge

Harvard College 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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