Assistant Curator of Rare Books
Kansas City, MO Special Collections and Public Services
Job Type

Work Where Science Lives

Linda Hall Library, one of the world’s foremost independent research libraries devoted to science, engineering, and technology, is seeking an Assistant Curator of Rare Books to join its Collections department. 

Job Purpose

Reporting to the Vice President for Special Collections and a member of the Collections and Public Services division, the Assistant Curator plays an integral role in describing and promoting one of the world’s premiere collections of rare books devoted to science. The incumbent will work to inspire broad and creative use of the Library’s unparalleled rare book and collections and will perform a range of activities in collaboration with colleagues. The Assistant Curator, in collaboration with members of the collections and public services division, catalyzes greater public understanding of the Library’s collection through public programs, class visits, exhibits, and scholarly cataloging and description. 

The Collection

The Library holds one of the best and most comprehensive collections of rare printed science, technology, and engineering works in the world. The Library holds 9 of every 10 works listed in Harrison Horblit’s One Hundred Books Famous in Science and Bern Dibner’s Heralds of Science. The collection has particularly strong holdings in astronomy, star atlases, natural history, engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences. The collection includes many of the landmarks of European intellectual thought, including works by Galileo, Copernicus, Newton, Curie, Einstein, and Merian. Recent notable additions of significant works by Furness, Pauling, Tsiolkovsky, Lobachevsky, and Anna & Susanna Lister build on these historic strengths while collecting the whole histories of science and technology. 

The Library

The Library is one of the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering, and technology. A not-for-profit, privately funded institution, the Library is open to the public free of charge. A member of the Independent Research Libraries Association, the Library’s collections as a whole include over half a million monograph volumes, more than 43,000 journal titles, conference proceedings, reference works, government publications, and technical reports, as well as over 200,000 industrial standards and conference papers. The Library actively collects approximately 1,500 serial titles, and 82 languages are represented in its collection.

This position opening comes at an exciting moment in the Library’s evolution. The Assistant Curator will be key in continuing these efforts, in addition to finalizing major in-progress international partnerships with peer institutions. The Board of Trustees has enthusiastically embraced a strategic plan that built upon the Library’s current reputation for excellence. Regarded as a national and international destination for research in the history of science and technology, the Linda Hall Library has helped to bring intellectual and cultural distinction to the community. The Library is extremely active in acquiring significant items for the collection, and will continue this activity moving forward. Recent efforts to make the collection intellectually accessible include the quarterly program series After Hours, as well as the short-form video series Paper Cuts.


Outreach and Instruction:

  • Provide instruction and presentations for groups and classes using material from the collections.
  • Coordinate and provide on-site and remote expert reference assistance to readers, and through regular shifts at the reference desk in the Rare Book Room.
  • Collaborate with library staff and outside experts to create After Hours online lectures, and short-form video content focused on the collection.
  • Coordinate staff curated and collaborative exhibits hosted at the Library. 

Collection Management and Description:

  • Create original and copy catalog records for new acquisitions and backlog titles following cataloging procedures of the Library.
  • Track rare book acquisitions in integrated library system.
  • Assist in preservation and conservation review of objects.
  • Assist in the review and preparation of external loan requests.

Other Duties:

  • Collaborate as requested with the Vice President for Special Collections on the selection of new items for acquisition.
  • Coordinate and schedule staffing for the Rare Book Room.
  • Contribute to digitization projects and setting digitization priorities for rare books.
  • Other duties as assigned.
  • Advanced degree that includes a focus and/or activities related to bibliography, book history, or printing.
  • Experience working in a library environment.
  • Experience cataloging monographs in MARC using AACR2.


  • Experience working in a special collections environment.
  • MLS from an ALA-accredited academic program, or enrollment in an MLS program.
  • Knowledge of special collections best practices in book handling and pedagogy.
  • Familiarity utilizing RBMS-SAA Guidelines for Primary Source Literacy.
  • Familiarity with ACRL/RBMS Guidelines Regarding Security and Theft in Special Collections.
  • Reading knowledge of languages other than English.
  • Familiarity with DCRM(B) and best practices for rare book cataloging.
  • Familiarity with library services platforms, such as ExLibris Alma.

Personal Characteristics

  • Strong interpersonal and presentation skills with the ability to present clear and accurate information to diverse constituencies. Must be comfortable with public speaking in a variety of formats. 
  • Must be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. Is able to simplify and explain complex, abstract concepts. 
  • Strong collaboration skills with the ability to modify approach and work with a variety of personalities and position-types. 
  • Demonstrated commitment to professional growth within the field. 
  • Must be flexible and responsive to shifting priorities. Effectively manages time and prioritizes tasks. 


The Linda Hall Library is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status or any other basis covered by appropriate law. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need.

The Linda Hall Library is an Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V.