Supervisory Librarian (Head, Paper Conservation Section) (Washington DC, USA) – now closed

The Library of Congress seeks a Supervisory Conservator (Librarian job series) to head the Paper Conservation Section in the Conservation Division. The Conservation Division is responsible for all work related to the assessment, stabilization, and conservation treatment of artifacts on paper and other substrates in the Library’s special collections and works closely with all custodial divisional representatives to develop, establish, coordinate and carry out a comprehensive, Library-wide conservation treatment program appropriate to the collections’ needs. The incumbent serves as Section Head and is responsible for work conducted in this section, which includes assessments, surveys, evaluations, treatments, documentation, and housing of paper format collections and paper artifacts; preparation work for exhibitions; research into optimizing paper conservation treatment methods and protocols; participation in the division’s intern program and other teaching and training programs; and creation of publications, reports, and guidelines.

  • Open & closing dates: 2018-05-14 to 2018-06-15
  • Pay scale & grade: GS 13
  • Salary: $96,970 to $126,062 / Per Year (Reflects the locality pay adjustments for the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan area)
  • Appointment type: Permanent. This is a supervisory, non-bargaining unit position

Anyone may apply – By law, employment at most U.S. Government agencies, including the Library of Congress, is limited to U.S. citizens. However, non-citizens may be hired, provided that other legal requirements are met and the Library determines there are no qualified U.S. citizens available for the position.

You can find the posting and start the application process at:

As Section Head, manages and supervises staff at grade levels GS-05 through GS-12. Provides administrative and technical supervision needed for accomplishing the section’s work. Performs administrative and human resources management tasks related to the staff supervised. Establishes guidelines and performance expectations for staff, which are clearly communicated through the formal employee performance management system and ongoing informal discussions throughout the year. Develops work improvement plans to improve productivity and/or the quality of conservation services. Ensures subordinates receive training to successfully perform and fully comply with Library of Congress regulations. Ensures personnel management in the organizational entity under supervision is accomplished without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, handicap, or national origin.

Plans, distributes, and reviews conservation activities undertaken by Paper Conservation Section staff. Oversees all section activities performed by staff and contractors, including conducting condition surveys of internal collections and individual items, technical analyses, developing treatment plans and selecting or designing and creating appropriate housings, conducting conservation treatment, documenting item condition and treatment, and preparing collections items for digitalization, loan, move, exhibition, and other usage preparations for such paper-based items as broadsides, charts, drawings, graphic prints, manuscripts, maps, posters and sketches.

Upon request by the Chief of the Conservation Division, designs centralized and mission-specific projects using established and/or proposed program objectives. Manages divisional programs and projects with a focused, mission-specific scope. Identifies and implements needed actions concerning development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of preservation programs and projects. Submits program goals and reports annual results to the Division Chief.

Develops, establishes, and maintains professional relationships with librarians, curators, facilities staff, Capitol Police, and other specialists to share resources and information to coordinate workflow, project planning and policy development in the Library. As a consultant, provides technical recommendations on the conservation and/or preservation of Library materials.

Conditions of Employment
The Supervisor leads his/her staff toward meeting the Library’s vision, mission, and goals by acting decisively, leveraging diversity and inclusiveness, demonstrating flexibility and resilience, fostering continuous improvement and innovation, and fostering integrity and honesty. To view the Library’s Supervisory Core Competencies click the following link:

Applicants must have had progressively responsible experience and training sufficient in scope and quality to furnish them with an acceptable level of the following knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the duties of the position without more than normal supervision.

  • Ability to supervise and lead a diverse specialized and technical staff **
  • Knowledge and application of the principles, concepts, and techniques of preservation and conservation **
  • Ability to analyze, organize, plan, and execute preservation and conservation programs and projects
  • Ability to provide consultation or liaison duties
  • Ability to build and maintain professional relationships
  • Ability to communicate in writing
  • Ability to communicate effectively other than in writing

How You Will Be Evaluated
The Library of Congress evaluates applicants through an applicant questionnaire and a structured interview. Applicants may also be screened for some jobs through licensing, certification, and/or education requirements, a narrative/application review, and/or a preliminary telephone interview. The knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that are marked with a double asterisk (**) in the vacancy announcement and the applicant questionnaire are considered the most critical for a position. To be considered for final selection, applicants must demonstrate fully acceptable experience in these designated KSAs in the narrative/application review, preliminary telephone and/or full structured interview. The various assessment tools listed above are designed to verify or explore applicants’ experience, knowledge, and training directly related to the job in order to identify the best qualified applicants for selection.

If you have questions about this posting, position requirements, or job responsibilities, please contact me at or (202) 707-5838.

41st Annual Meeting – General Session, May 30, "Contemporary Colorant Change: Assessing Changes in the Herblock Collection Due to Exhibition and Storage of Fugitive Media, Part II," by Fenella G. France

Caveat: This review presents very little of the data from this study, but is instead a quick overview so that you know what the Herblock team is working on and what to look forward to in the published study.
This presentation addresses a looming problem in the conservation of 20th century material culture – the color change of ubiquitous late twentieth century drawing and writing materials. Fenella G. France’s talk is the second AIC presentation of an ongoing ambitious study at the Library of Congress on the aging of drawing materials used by the editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block (Herblock). Although this study looks at the materials of a single artist, it has applications for both late 20th century and contemporary archives and for contemporary fine art on paper. France reminded the audience that the Library of Congress is the depository for the Members of Congress’s papers, which often contain the same materials Herblock was using, including White-Out, Avery Labels, and paper with optical brighteners. In short, this Library of Congress team is looking at the future of paper conservation.
When the Library acquired the Herblock collection, which spans 72 years and includes 14,400 drawings and 50,000 rough sketches on newsprint, Holly Krueger, Head of the Paper Conservation Section at the Library of Congress, had the foresight to gather some of the artist’s materials. (Collecting contemporary artist’s materials turned out to be a theme at the 2013 meeting, with Michelle Barger’s “Artist Materials Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art” presentation, Tiarna Doherty’s passing reference to a few spare television sets acquired to replace sets as they broke, as well as the acquisition of an entire inspirational archivein “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary: from the Archive to the Exhibition,” and on a more conceptual level, the acquisition of people with specialized knowledge for the conservation of performance art in Dr. Pip Laurenson’s “Collecting the Performative: the Role of the Conservator in the Conservation of Performance-Based Art.”) In the future the Library is hoping to work with the U.S. Secret Service, which has its own collection of modern ink and fugitive materials.
In the 1970s, Herblock made the transition from India ink and graphite (which are relatively permanent, and have a long history of use) to modern materials that he bought at the corner store, including porous-point (felt-tip) pens, white correction fluid (White-out), pressure-sensitive labels (Avery brand) and coquille board, a textured drawing board with optical brighteners.
The ongoing study of composition and aging characteristics has been conducted with 23 of Herblock’s drawing materials on both Whatman paper and on samples of Herblock’s favored coquille drawing board, all exposed to 5 different conditions. The discovery that some of the pen components fade even in the dark has added cold storage as another variable for future study.
The study is further complicated by Herblock’s use of several different porous-point black pens that are indistinguishable in normal light but that have different formulations and fading characteristics. The team used a progressive LED illumination sequence (hyperspectral imaging) to allow them to distinguish between individual blacks.
The team used a range of techniques to investigate both the samples and a selection of Herblock drawings, including hyperspectral imaging, UV-VIS colorimetry, micro-fade-ometer, and micro-sampling (of the sample sheets) for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The sample media that showed change were also subjected to thin-layer chromatography (TLC) to separate out the components, and analyzed with Direct-Analysis in Real Time (DART) Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry.
I will not attempt to present the team’s results, but a very quick and general summary would be that many of the inks are highly light sensitive, so far there is no dependency on substrate (Whatman vs. coquille board) for the color change of the media, and certain elements of the porous-point pens fade rapidly, even in the dark. France shared a before and after picture of one TLC plate that had been kept for 8 months and several of the porous-point pen ink components had already noticeably changed color within that time frame.
This study provides a unique chance to delve into the wide array of proprietary formulations of drawing and writing implements from the late 20th century and to look into the implications for their long-term preservation. I am sure I am not the only one eagerly awaiting the publication of the study to get a glimpse of what we will face as the century continues.