Curator of Medieval & Renaissance Collections, Columbia University Libraries

Columbia University

Job Type: Museums and Libraries

Application Deadline: April 8, 2019

The Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) seeks an accomplished and creative professional to serve as its Curator of Medieval & Renaissance Collections. The Curator will be primarily responsible for developing, managing and actively promoting the use of RBML Medieval & Renaissance collections through programmatic outreach, reference work, awareness, public programs and instructional activities. The Curator will also oversee and advocate for RBML’s ancient writing surfaces (papyrus, ostraca, cuneiform and epigraphy).

Reporting to the Director, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, the Curator of Medieval & Renaissance Collections will develop RBML holdings in Medieval and Renaissance in all formats (e.g., print and manuscript) through purchase and donation. The Curator will also steward relevant collections that are in place, prioritizing their organization, description, conservation, digitization, and security. The Curator will help to create relevant guides, directories, and finding aids to the collections while contributing content and metadata to initiatives like the Digital Scriptorium and Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI). The Curator will provide proactive outreach and instruction for Columbia University faculty and students as well as for faculty and students in the greater NYC area and beyond.

One of eight full-time curators in RBML, the Curator of Medieval & Renaissance Collections will contribute to unit wide decision-making about acquisitions, exhibitions, public programs, and other forms of outreach, and contribute to the general RBML public services program. He or she will liaison with relevant Library bibliographers and other special collections staff and with colleagues in the field.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library is Columbia University’s largest repository for primary source collections. The range of collections in the RBML span more than 4,000 years and comprise multiple formats, from cuneiform to the born-digital. Some 500,000 printed books and 14 miles of manuscripts, personal papers, organizational archives and records form the core of RBML holdings. The Medieval and Renaissance collections include more than 800 codex manuscripts and 1,000 incunabula, most of which form part of the George Arthur Plimpton, David Eugene Smith, and Gonzalez Lodge collections. They concentrate on subject-matter as varied as the history of learning, mathematics, and science, classics, musicology, liturgy, and hagiography. Other RBML collecting strengths include American History, journalism, comics, graphic arts, human rights, the performing arts, and Russian and East European émigré art and culture. The RBML is also home to the University
Archives and the archival arm of the Columbia Center for Oral History. For more information about RBML collections and services, see our website here.

Minimum Qualifications:

  • MLIS or PhD or equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Knowledge of Latin paleography and codicology
  • Strong expertise in Medieval and/or Renaissance studies
  • Demonstrated experience working in a special collections library or research unit
  • Demonstrated experience in teaching and research support
  • Strong organizational skills and excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Experience curating and preparing library exhibitions
  • Ability to work independently; demonstrated ability to teach effectively
  • Demonstrated ability to work collegially and collaboratively with diverse groups, across a
    complex organization

Preferred Qualifications:

  • PhD in Medieval and/or Renaissance studies
  • Knowledge of early modern printed books
  • Familiarity with the care and description of ancient writing surfaces (papyri, cuneiform,
    ostraca, epigraphy, etc.)
  • Some knowledge of Greek, German and/or French
  • Working knowledge of and comfort with relevant web applications in the humanities
  • Knowledge of online sources, databases, and sites relating to special collections
  • Experience with public programming
  • Experience in preparing catalogues and guides


As one of the world’s leading research universities, Columbia University in the City of New York provides outstanding opportunities to work and grow in a dynamic, multicultural, intellectual community. The Columbia University Libraries comprises a diverse and engaged staff committed to furthering the University’s teaching and research mission through innovation, collaboration, and a commitment to excellence.

Columbia University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and strongly encourages individuals of all backgrounds and cultures to consider this position.

Posted: March 18, 2019