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Reference Assistant, Maine Historical Society, ME


POSITION TITLE: Reference Assistant
STATUS: Non-exempt
SCHEDULE: Part-time, up to 28 hours per week
REPORTS TO: MHS Research & Administrative Librarian
DATE: 05/01/2023


The MHS Reference Assistant supports research and collections in the MHS Brown Library by answering
ready-reference questions, undertaking research and reproduction services, providing patron orientation and
access to collections, and monitoring reading room activities. Work includes conducting reference interviews,
retrieving and reshelving collections, implementing library policy and procedure, and supporting library
operations. The position provides reference desk coverage, works directly with patrons, provides collection use
instruction, and helps maintain an orderly reading room. Other duties include stack maintenance, reviewing
incoming materials, as well undertaking research for the institution. The position is part of the Brown Research
Library’s front-line staff and the MHS Collections & Research department.


This position does not supervise staff; occasionally supervises interns and volunteers.


  • Provides reference services for in-house, electronic and telephone inquiries including answering
    ready-reference questions, conducting reference interviews, patron communication, compiling
    statistics, and authoring written replies.
  • Provides patron orientation including researcher registration, outlining reading room policy and
    procedure, and collection handling. Provides oversight of active researchers.
  • Supports the MHS Research & Administrative Librarian with fee-based research services and
    reproduction requests.
  • Retrieves and re-shelves materials in open and secure stacks.
  • Helps maintain a clean, secure, and clutter-free reading room.
  • Provides bibliographic instruction for MHS databases, including internal (Minerva/OPAC; Maine
    Memory Network; Collections Database; membership resources) and subscription databases
    (; Heritage Quest; Sanborn Maps; JSTOR).
  • Recommends necessary updates to catalogues, finding aids or housing labels.
  • Supports in-depth and internal research requests as needed.
  • Performs stack maintenance, including shifting and filing collections, re-housing, and light
    preservation work.
  • Reviews incoming library materials (books, pamphlets, journals, etc.) for inclusion in library holdings.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • An advanced degree (or currently enrolled) in Library Science or related humanities-based program.
  • Familiarity with special collections/archival reference services and settings.
  • Demonstrated experience with researching within special collections and archives, including using
    finding aids and collection handling.
  • Demonstrated proficiency in searching an online library catalogue.
  • Strong communication skills: listening, written, and verbal.
  • An open and positive attitude and enjoy working with the public.
  • Strong computer skills and ability to learn new programs when needed.
  • Ability to solve problems in a changing environment, high degree of flexibility and adaptability.
  • Ability to adhere to and implement institutional protocol and methodologies.
  • Strong initiative combined with a willingness to take direction.
  • Reliability and dependability; ability to work independently or as part of a group.
  • Ability to multi-task and facilitate several projects simultaneously.
  • Ability to lift 25 lbs. and reach above one’s head.


  • MLS or equivalent in Library Science from an ALA accredited institution.
  • Special Collections reference experience.
  • Working knowledge of Maine history.
  • Familiarity with genealogical research and family history.
  • Working knowledge of Past Perfect Museum Software.
  • Familiarity with PC platforms, WINDOWS, and Office 365.
  • Experience with archival processing and creating finding aids.


Work is performed in an office and library environment using basic office equipment such as a computer,
printer, telephone, and copier. Work requires sitting, walking, pushing carts, and lifting. All work is
performed on-site at MHS’ 489 Congress Street Portland, Maine location.

An ideal schedule is Wednesday-Saturday, 9-5PM. Some degree of flexibility within MHS business hours, but Saturdays are required. A set schedule (week to week) is required.

$22.00/ hr. with paid time off (PTO). In-town parking is provided.

To Apply

Contact and how to apply: Interested parties should email a cover letter, resume, and contact information (email address and phone number) for two professional references to:
Cindy Murphy, MHS Office Manager, at [email protected]. or mail to
Maine Historical Society, 489 Congress St., Suite 2, Portland, ME 04101-3498 c/o Cindy Murphy.
No phone calls, please.

Application deadline: Open until filled.

Maine Historical Society is an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion in the
workplace. We prohibit discrimination and harassment of any kind based on race, color, sex, religion, sexual
orientation, national origin, disability, genetic information, pregnancy, or any other protected characteristic as
outlined by federal, state, or local laws.