Instruction and Outreach Librarian, Special Collections - Rhode Island School of Design


Location: Providence, RI, USA
Salary: Minimum starting salary $62,750
Employment Term: Full time
Required Experience: Minimum three years instructional and outreach work in special collections, archives or comparable professional environment.
Employer Contact: Margot McIlwain Nishimura,

Instruction. This position shapes the Special Collections classroom experience by teaching from and promoting the curricular integration of Special Collections materials. More specifically, they:
    • Select materials from Special Collections and develop individualized instruction sessions for undergraduates, graduates, and continuing education students, faculty, and other visitors in consultation with faculty and library colleagues.
    • Design and deliver hands-on learning experiences that encompass the social, cultural, and physical histories of the book as well as the technologies of print.
    • Engage students in the analysis and interpretation of primary sources.
    • Stay attuned to and implement new approaches to object-based teaching and active-learning techniques; seek feedback from faculty, students, and colleagues and continuously assess results against agreed-upon learning objectives.
    • Teach best practices in the careful handling of Special Collections materials and instill an appreciation of preservation concerns and standards. 
    • Proactively engage with library and faculty colleagues to create online instructional materials, such as LibGuides, video tutorials, and social media posts, to further support the use of Special Collections materials in teaching, creative inquiry, and academic research.
    • Teach both in person and online, as the situation demands.
Reference. This position is a primary contact for individuals seeking information about RISD’s Special Collections materials for specific research applications and for answers and information that might be found in these same materials. Specifically, they:
  • Provide recommendations for materials to consult and answer research questions via scheduled or unscheduled in-person appointments, email, phone, and/or virtual conferencing platforms.
  • Research and recommend opportunities to experiment with new and innovative reference and research services.
  • Make recommendations for the purchase of collection and reference materials based on trends in research questions and instruction requests.
Outreach. This position is responsible for developing and implementing a program of communications and events to make RISD’s Special Collections better known and more widely used both internally and externally. Specifically, they:
  • Plan events that draw attention to and expand understanding of the library’s special collections, collaborating, when possible, with the Collections Development Librarian/Curator of Artists’ Books, ​​Assistant Director for Access Services, Library Programming Committee, and other library and campus colleagues.
  • Contribute regularly to the library’s social media platforms to promote areas of strength in Special Collections and put a spotlight on individual collection items.
  • Curate at least one exhibition annually (including adaptation for online), and contribute to planning and preparation of other exhibitions.
  • Consult on cataloging projects (e.g., for LMS, institutional repository, and other platforms) to ensure optimal discoverability and promote access to Special Collections materials.
  • Contribute time, as needed, to the team effort, led by Collections Development Librarian/Curator of Artists’ Books, to plan, promote, and implement RISD’s annual artists’ book fair and student artists’ book contests.
  • Regularly update existing Special Collections web pages and serve as point person for redesign of Fleet website ( in regard to the representation of and access to online resources connected to Special Collections and Archives.
Additional Functions: 
  • Supervise Special Collections staff and graduate assistants; assist in supervision and guidance of student employees in support of the tasks described above.
  • Review and update policies and procedures in consultation with Special Collections and RISD Archives colleagues, especially as they pertain to the shared reading room and storage environments.
  • Contribute to and ensure that statistics in this area of library operations are maintained and reported accurately in the library’s annual report.
  • Participate in professional and institutional activities; pursue continuing education as appropriate. Serve on cross-operational library working groups and college committees.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • ALA-accredited MLIS or equivalent achieved through experience and related training.
  • Minimum three years of recent instructional and outreach work in special collections, archives or comparable professional environment.
  • Strong interest in primary source literacy and object-based pedagogy.
  • Knowledge of the history of the book, book arts and specialized library collecting.
  • Understanding and application of best practices in collections care and handling protocols for special collections and archival materials.
  • Experience with library management systems (Sierra, AEON, and Archivesspace preferred).
  • Experience promoting specialized collection materials through online platforms, including social media.
  • Understanding of standards, ethics, security guidelines, etc., including ACRL/RBMS guidelines and standards.
  • Strong analytical skills, creative and innovative problem-solving. Excellent written, verbal, interpersonal and communication skills for in-person and virtual settings.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to details.
  • Ability to work collegially and independently within a small team that must be flexible and extremely responsive to users.
  • Proficiency with commonly used productivity and project management software (e.g. Google Workspace, Slack, Asana) and ability to learn new technologies with ease.
  • Ability to set priorities, exercise flexibility in meeting objectives, effectively manage multiple projects simultaneously, meet deadlines and adjust as circumstances change.
  • Commitment to serving the needs and interests of a diverse, creative population of students, faculty, and staff.
  • Commitment to promoting and/or enhancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in an organizational context.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Second degree in art history, studio art, or other aspects of print and material culture.
  • Formal coursework or training in active learning and/or primary source literacy and history of the book.
  • Curatorial experience (exhibitions).
  • Experience with website design.
  • Experience and ease with commonly used design software (e.g. Adobe Suite).
  • Knowledge and understanding of key issues and trends in the art and design school sector and an understanding of the impact of digital technologies in libraries and higher education.
  • Participation in relevant professional associations.

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