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Department Head of Rare Books and Special Collections (Librarian III or IV)

Department Head of Rare Books and Special Collections (Librarian III or IV)

University of Toronto Job Location: Ontario Apply By: 11/11/2021 Date Created: 10-18-2021

POSITION: Department Head of Rare Books and Special Collections (Librarian III or IV)

DEPARTMENT: Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto Libraries


Are you looking for challenging, meaningful work in a supportive and diverse environment? Are you looking for a career at one of Canada’s top employers? Work where the world comes to think, discover and learn. Consider a career at the University of Toronto.

About the University of Toronto Libraries

The University of Toronto Libraries system is the largest academic library in Canada and is consistently ranked in the top ten among academic research libraries in North America. The system consists of 42 libraries located on three university campuses: St. George, Mississauga, and Scarborough. This array of college libraries, special collections, and specialized libraries and information centres supports the teaching and research requirements of over 300 graduate programs, more than 70 professional programs, and about 700 undergraduate degree programs. In addition to more than 15 million volumes in 341 languages, the library system currently provides access to millions of electronic resources in various forms and over 31,000 linear metres of archival material. More than 150,000 new print volumes are acquired each year. The Libraries' data centre houses more than 500 servers with a storage capacity of 1.5 petabytes.

The Opportunity

The Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is one of the largest repositories of publicly accessible rare books and archives in Canada. The library holds manuscripts dating back to the 11th century, as well as gems such as Canada's only copy of the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio, the 1481 Caxton Cicero Canada’s oldest printed English book, and the archives of Margaret Atwood. The collections’ greatest strengths are in Canadian literature, philosophy, theology, political science, the history of science and medicine, Hebraica and Judaica, and the history and art of the book.


The University of Toronto Library seeks an experienced, knowledgeable and innovative rare book librarian to provide leadership for the overall operation and administration of the department of Rare Books and Special Collections in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

The incumbent is responsible for building collections and developing programs and services to meet the growing needs of a diverse community of faculty, visiting scholars, and graduate and undergraduate students and promoting use of the collections in traditional and new methods of research.

Areas of oversight include:

  • Responsibility for the management, operations, coordination, and strategic direction of the Department
  • Hiring, training, mentoring and assigning work priorities to a staff of more than sixteen employees including librarians and other skilled department members
  • Managing the acquisition and processing of print and manuscript materials in multiple formats through purchase and donation
  • Reference and public service activities
  • Nurturing strategic relationships with various external stakeholders, including alumni, Friends of the Fisher community members, and donors.

The Department Head of Rare Books and Special Collections will develop strategic directions through collaborative relationships with colleagues throughout the University of Toronto Libraries, including advancement staff, administrative colleagues, and senior library management.

The goal of enhancing, preserving and promoting the Library’s world-renowned collections will be supported by building collaborative relationships and programming with donors, the Friends of Fisher, members of the book trade, researchers, faculty, students, and other communities of interest in rare books and special collections.

As a collegial member of the Rare Books and Special Collections team, the department head will directly participate in library activities including reference services, cataloguing, seminars and teaching, digitization projects, and exhibitions.

Reporting to the Associate Librarian for Special Collections, the incumbent will contribute to a dynamic division of five departments (Rare Books and Special Collections, the Cheng Yu Teng East Asian Library, Media Commons Archives, the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library, and the University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services) to build excellent research collections and supporting services.

Required Qualifications & Experience:

  • A degree from an accredited Master’s level program in library and information studies
  • Demonstrated commitment to the values of inclusivity, diversity and accessibility
  • Relevant managerial / administrative experience in rare books and special collections, with proven team-building skills.
  • Proven experience and expertise in building rare book and special collections
  • Deep knowledge of the rare book trade
  • Demonstrated proficiency in several of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library’s collecting areas
  • Demonstrated commitment to ongoing learning and professional growth
  • Strong evidence of a growth mindset: a librarian who demonstrates flexibility, creativity and resilience
  • Outstanding oral and written communication skills

Preferred Qualifications & Experience:

  • Successful record of attracting donations of funds and gifts-in-kind
  • Relevant research experience, publication, teaching or demonstrated record of scholarly activity
  • An advanced subject degree in a relevant subject area
  • Additional language skills
  • Experience with special collections digitization projects

Salary and Terms of Appointment:

This is a permanent status stream appointment to be hired at the Librarian III or IV level. Rank and salary will be commensurate with experience and academic/professional qualifications.


Librarians at the University of Toronto are members of the University of Toronto Faculty Association.

Application Materials Required:

A cover letter, curriculum vitae, and contact information for three references of which at least two have supervised your work. Please send a single electronic file (MS Word or pdf) with a file name convention of [Surname, FirstName.HEADRBSC] to Library Human Resources at utlhr@utoronto.ca; or to Room 1140, 130 St. George Street, University of Toronto Libraries, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1A5; or fax to (416) 946-5543 by Thursday, November 11, 2021. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

Diversity Statement

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2S+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. Accessibility Statement The University strives to be an equitable and inclusive community, and proactively seeks to increase diversity among its community members. Our values regarding equity and diversity are linked with our unwavering commitment to excellence in the pursuit of our academic mission. The University is committed to the principles of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). As such, we strive to make our recruitment, assessment and selection processes as accessible as possible and provide accommodations as required for applicants with disabilities. If you require any accommodations at any point during the application and hiring process, please contact utlhr@utoronto.ca. The University of Toronto Libraries thanks all applicants but will only contact applicants selected for an interview.

University of Toronto Library System: https://onesearch.library.utoronto.ca/

University of Toronto: http://www.people.utoronto.ca/

Policies for Librarians: https://people.utoronto.ca/policies/

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