Curator for the Black Diaspora
The Curator for the Black Diaspora is a subject specialist who brings unique expertise to an innovative, team-based curatorial model at the John Hay Library, home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and University Archives. Brown’s research and programmatic strengths related to the Black Diaspora are focused in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States. The Curator combines deep knowledge of the histories and cultures of one or more of these geographies with experience in non-colonial, non-extractive collections and research practices. The Curator will carry out a foundational project, in partnership with library staff, faculty, and students, to define the ethical parameters for growing Black Diaspora materials in Special Collections. The Curator will be guided by the John Hay Library Collection Policy and will use methods including acquisitions, post-custodial collecting, oral histories, and community engaged projects.
In partnership with the University Archivist, students, faculty, and alumni, the Curator will also provide focused attention to the long-term preservation of the rich history of Black students, faculty, and alumni at Brown University and will participate in ongoing projects with the Inman Page Black Alumni Council, Rites & Reason Theater, and more. Additionally, in association with the Academic Engagement department at Brown University Library, the Curator will serve as the subject liaison for Africana Studies and is a resource for the expanding academic and curricular needs of the University. The Curator will purposefully engage with students on campus to support their scholarship and cultural exploration and will partner with relevant student centers including the Brown Center for Students of Color. The Curator will also advise on major initiatives on campus that relate to historical or contemporary collections of Black diaspora material, with particular focus given to initiatives from the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) and the Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America (CSREA), and the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women’s Black Feminist Theory Project. The Curator will also cultivate reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationships with local cultural heritage institutions whose work centers Black history and culture.
About the Library:
The John Hay Library is home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archival material. The Hay and its collections attract an international cohort of researchers, and as a Carnegie Library, the Hay is committed to investing in community and public engagement. To ensure that its collections are carefully stewarded for long-term access and use by any visitor, the John Hay Library Collection Policy outlines six strategic collecting directions and core guiding principles for collecting. The Hay’s mission is to collect and preserve rare and unique materials that promote interdisciplinary research, teaching, and learning and inspire experimentation and creativity. Its collections support free and open inquiry, and we are committed to providing equitable access to our collections, exhibitions, and programming to a global community of students, scholars, and the public.
The Brown University Library is a dynamic center of scholarship and community at the heart of a world-class research university. Supporting and collaborating with a broad and diverse academic constituency, the Library is essential for Brown’s mission “to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry.” Integrating with Brown’s ambitious strategic plans, the Library is a site of innovation that fuels intellectual creativity. Signature Library initiatives include the establishment of the Center for Library Exploration and Research to increase campus and community impact; the Racial Justice Project to assess and counteract the legacies of historical racism in library practice; the Digital Publications Initiative pioneering new approaches to born-digital scholarship; and a revisioned special collections program that is positioning the John Hay Library as a research destination and leader in reparative and community-based collecting. We are seeking outstanding library professionals at all levels of the organization who are excited about advancing academic excellence at the highest level, and who will bring a wide array of backgrounds, experiences, and abilities to a scholarly community that is actively committed to being more diverse and inclusive.
Major Responsibility: Curatorial 40%
As part of a curatorial team, strategically builds collections in all formats through gift, purchase, and post custodial agreements in accordance with the collection policy and in alignment with current and projected research and teaching needs on campus.
Cultivates relationships with collections donors and works with the University Librarian and Associate University Librarian for Special Collections in grant applications and other fundraising activities.
Develops and implements programs and outreach activities, including building collaborative relationships and programming with local cultural heritage institutions, that promote the use and value of the collections.
Works with archivists, catalogers and other campus or community partners to create accurate and culturally sensitive description and subject analysis for new and existing collections.
Collaborates with the Director of the Center for Library Exploration and Research, the Head of Library Community Engagement, the Assistant Director of Special Collections for Art and Exhibitions, and the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections to promote Special Collections holdings through exhibitions and dynamic public and/or campus-facing programming.
Contributes expert knowledge to faculty-led digital scholarship projects.
Actively investigates new uses of technology to enhance the visibility and use of the collections.
Builds reciprocal, collaborative relationships with Brown University academic departments, centers, and institutes, and with local institutions in various programmatic initiatives related to Black diaspora cultural heritage.
Major Responsibility: Subject Librarian for Africana Studies 25%
Serves as the primary point of contact for Library support of the Department of Africana Studies, collaborating with colleagues in related liaison roles to deliver high-impact instruction and develop collections which enable research and teaching.
Conducts advanced reference and research consultations with students and faculty to help researchers discover, access, and use licensed and publicly available sources.
Develops scholarly collections to support disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in Africana Studies related scholarship in humanities and humanistic social sciences.
Engages in a highly collaborative decision-making process to make evidence-based collections decisions using analysis of usage, community input, and collection guidelines to support scholarly trends and campus priorities in related areas.
Solicits input from faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students on the suitability and effectiveness of library collections for teaching and research in subject areas of responsibility.
Major Responsibility: Special Collections Research Support & Instruction 25%
Serves regularly on service points including the front desk and reading room to support special collections operations and to cultivate a user-informed curatorial practice.
Engages with faculty and other campus partners to integrate the resources of the Brown University Library’s special collections into curriculum, individual classes, and new and existing programs.
Provides Special Collections instruction and works with the Library’s Center for Library Exploration and Research (CLEAR) to support faculty and students working with primary source materials related to the Black Diaspora.
Adheres to best practices in primary source literacy and critical pedagogy and actively works to include the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan goals in the instruction program.
Major Responsibility: Professional development 10%
Actively updates professional knowledge and skills, participates in professional and/or scholarly associations, and is aware of current trends in higher education, libraries, and cultural heritage institutions.
Continually updates cultural knowledge and stays current with reparative justice issues and best practices.
Education and Experience
ALA-accredited master’s degree in library or information science or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
3 years of experience in an academic library, public library, school library or other cultural heritage setting, or educational institution in a teaching, administration, or research role.
Experience or degree in Black studies or a related field of study (Anthropology, Art History, History, Sociology etc.) with a specialization in African Americans and/or the Black Diaspora.
Experience evaluating books and manuscripts for acquisition; working with donors and rare book and manuscript dealers preferred
Experience introducing primary sources and primary source literacy to a variety of learners in person and in virtual settings.
Successful experience working directly with diverse audiences.
Strong customer-service orientation.
Demonstrated ability to provide effective and efficient curatorial and research services. Knowledge of best practices in virtual and in-person curatorial service in a high-paced cultural heritage institution, educational institution, or similar environment.
Demonstrated ability to bring inclusive, collaborative and engaging approaches to curatorial service and/or teaching operations and programming onsite and virtually.
Excellent interpersonal, oral, and written communication skills.
Excellent planning, decision making, problem-solving skills with superior verbal and written and oral communication skills.
Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively in a diverse, dynamic, team setting and to balance multiple competing priorities.
Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the University.
Experience with curatorial travel and in-person curatorial work with donors preferred.
Experience promoting the use of primary sources through exhibitions, programming, and other outreach.
Knowledge of current research trends and information literacy techniques.
All offers of employment are contingent upon a criminal background check and education verification satisfactory to Brown University.
Recruiting Start Date:
Job Posting Title:
Curator for the Black Diaspora
Scheduled Weekly Hours:
Please note that in order to be considered an applicant for any staff position at Brown University you must submit an application form for each position for which you believe you are qualified. Applications are not kept on file for future positions. Please include a cover letter and resume with each position application.
In order to maintain 90% or greater universal vaccination rates on campus, all newly hired employees at Brown University must receive the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before they begin work, unless they are approved for a medical or religious exemption. All employees must also receive a COVID-19 booster within thirty (30) days of becoming eligible. For more information, please visit the Healthy Brown site.
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