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Head of Special Collections, Wesleyan University, Middleton, CT


Located in Middletown, Connecticut, Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts colleges with 3,000 undergraduates and 200 graduates. Established in 1831, Wesleyan is known for its rich, open, and interdisciplinary curriculum. We have a long-standing commitment to creating a dynamically diverse campus comprised of students from all racial, ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Within this intellectually stimulating environment, the Wesleyan University Libraries play an important role. Special Collections is made up of over 45,000 volumes of rare books ranging from medieval manuscript codices and early printed books to 21st-century fine press books. It holds materials in multiple formats, including books, pamphlets, broadsides, and maps. It also maintains a strong collection of over 1,000 artists’ books with one highlight being those on social justice and related issues.

Wesleyan’s Special Collections is part of the newly formed Unique Collections department that includes the: University Archives, Archaeology & Anthropology Collections, Center for East Asian Studies Art & Archival Collections, and the World Music Archives.

Reporting to the Dietrich Family Associate University Librarian for Unique Collections, the Head of Special Collections will lead in developing collaborative, sustainable approaches to managing a complex portfolio of Special Collections services, projects, and programs. Additionally, they will work to strengthen the department’s focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism in collections practices.

Time: Full Time

Pay: $61,300-$72,300

Location: On Campus


  • Oversees the housing, preservation, cataloging, and discovery of Special Collections materials and provides leadership in long-range planning for the collection.
  • Leads collection development for rare books, artists’ books, and special collections including working with donors, dealers, other library specialists, and faculty to acquire unique and distinctive items and collections.
  • Develops and instructs classes, through an active program of outreach to faculty, across the curriculum involving rare books, history of the book, manuscripts, and artists’ books. Conducts personal research sessions with students in these areas.
  • Supervises staff, including the Special Collections Cataloging Librarian, undergraduate students, and occasional graduate interns.
  • Oversees the reference services for Special Collections and University Archives. Provides reference services in the reading room, online, and by telephone. Coordinates the reference desk schedule and staffs the desk for 6-8 hours per week.
  • Promotes Special Collections through presentations, exhibits, writings, and other means to the Wesleyan community and beyond with an eye for collaboration and cross-collection promotion.
  • Plans projects and promotes digital access to Special Collections materials.
  • Develops policies and sets priorities for the collection.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the AUL for Unique Collections.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • Master’s degree in a relevant subject area and a minimum of four years of progressively responsible experience (both professional and graduate school experience will be considered) in Special Collections or a related field or an equivalent combination of education, training and experience.
  • In-depth knowledge of the history of printing, book collecting, and the book trade.
  • Demonstrated experience working with donors and book dealers to grow collections and make acquisitions while working within a budget.
  • Experience providing instruction in the use of rare books and primary source literacy.
  • Demonstrated understanding of issues and trends in curricular use of rare books and manuscripts. Demonstrated experience in supervising, evaluating, and mentoring employees.
  • Ability to manage projects and a willingness to seek creative solutions to challenges.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
  • Effective communications skills with the ability to present publicly.
  • Proven ability to work independently and collaboratively in a team-based environment.
  • Demonstrated commitment to work within a diverse environment and interact collegially with individuals of different backgrounds.
  • Strong user-service orientation and desire to work with constituents in an academic environment.
  • Ability to work occasional evenings and weekends.
  • Ability to physically engage with the collection, including climbing, lifting, and use of ladders/step stools and the ability to lift up to 40 pounds with our without accommodation.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Reading knowledge of languages other than English.
  • Experience in developing collaborative outreach programming for Special Collections in person and/or through online channels.
  • Experience with digitization projects.
  • Familiarity with DCRM and best practices for rare book cataloging.
  • Familiarity with library services platforms, such as ExLibris Alma, and platforms LibAnswers and LibCal.

To Apply:

Position is open until filled. For full consideration please apply by October 13th when first review of applications will begin.