Chief Conservator (Evanston, IL, USA)



  • Work group: Preservation
  • Reports to: Marie A. Quinlan Director of Preservation

Northwestern University Libraries seek a skilled, creative, and collaborative Chief Conservator to lead a comprehensive conservation program for all library collections, including general circulating materials and non-circulating rare books, manuscripts, and archival documents in many formats. Under the supervision of the Director of Preservation, the Chief Conservator is the primary manager of the libraries’ conservation program, with responsibility for setting policy, managing workflows, supervising staff, and developing outreach programs. The Chief Conservator brings extensive experience in the care and treatment of library materials and has a demonstrated aptitude for managing complex workflows. Excellent communication skills and the ability to collaboratively set priorities are essential to these endeavors.


  • Manages the libraries’ conservation lab; hires, trains, and supervises conservation staff; develops procedures and systems for evaluation, treatment, and housing of collections; establishes priorities and monitors workflow; prepares written planning documents and reports.
  • Performs circulating collection repairs on a regular basis and trains conservation lab staff in repair techniques. Performs and documents complex treatments for rare and other non-circulating materials, including books, flat paper, and archival materials in accordance with AIC Guidelines.
  • Keeps abreast of new techniques, procedures, and developments in the conservation field. Oversees the post-graduate conservation fellowship program and other training programs for emerging professionals.
  • Provides consultations to curators and subjects specialists on matters related to conservation. Coordinates assessment and treatment of items going through the digitization workflow.
  • Develops and implements policies, standards, and procedures for the physical care of libraries’ collections; oversees the research, evaluation and selection of goods and services that impact the longevity and continued serviceability of all collections.
  • Works closely with the Exhibits Team in evaluating and preparing items for exhibit; advises on planning and installation of exhibits throughout the libraries. Collaborates with Library Registrar to facilitate lending of materials for exhibition to Northwestern’s Block Museum of Art and other institutions.
  • Works collaboratively with preservation staff on environmental monitoring and pest management programs. Actively participates in disaster response planning and recovery initiatives; consults on technical and service specifications for commercial binding and mass deacidification.
  • Designs and presents workshops and training seminars; offers orientation for new library staff; prepares flyers, guides and exhibits as needed; presents lectures and tours for the general public.
  • Identifies and evaluates private conservators for outsourced treatments as needed.
  • Conducts research to further libraries and departmental goals; proposes new services, analyzes resources and implements projects, including collection surveys and multi-divisional and multi-institutional grant-funded projects.
  • Represents the libraries at regional, national and international meetings of conservation professionals.


  • Master’s degree in librarianship, conservation, or related field, including training in conservation, or equivalent combination of education and relevant experience.
  • Extensive knowledge of current conservation principles and practices, materials science, the history of bookbinding and a demonstrated commitment to life-long learning.
  • Demonstrated ability to perform high quality conservation treatments on general and special collections materials, primarily books and paper, and to communicate effectively about treatment options and decisions.
  • Capability to manage budgets, staff, and other resources responsibly and in accordance with priorities of the libraries and university.
  • Experience training others in conservation practices.
  • Record of professional engagement and contribution, such as research, publication, and involvement in pertinent professional and scholarly organizations.


  • Ability to work in a collaborative team-based environment
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Adaptable, ability to adjust to changing environment
  • Customer focused


  • Professional Associate or Fellow membership in the American Institute for Conservation.
  • Experience managing contract conservation services.
  • Experience working with photographs, audiovisual formats, and ephemera.

Northwestern University is a highly selective private university with campuses in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois and in Doha, Qatar. One of the leading private research libraries in the United States, Northwestern University Library serves the educational and information needs of the NU community as well as scholars around the world. Its collection contains more than 7 million volumes, a full array of digital resources, and collections of distinction in Africana, transportation, and 20th-century and contemporary music. Northwestern is a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA). See more information about University Libraries at:

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Hiring is contingent upon eligibility to work in the United States.

TO APPLY: Applications received by November 27, 2017 will receive first consideration. Please click here to fill out an application

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