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Curator of American Literature

Curator of American Literature

The Ohio State University Job Location: Ohio Date Created: 12-10-2015

The Ohio State University Libraries invites applications and nominations for the position of Curator of American Literature to join a dynamic, responsive, and high-impact rare books and special collections program which strongly support teaching and research at the University. The Rare Books and Manuscripts Library (RBMS) at The Ohio State University Libraries (OSUL) is home to the William Charvat Collection of American Literature, a world-class assembly of fiction, literary manuscripts and archives, poetry, and drama. Faculty, students, and an international community of scholars regularly utilize RBMS’ substantial American literary holdings to create new knowledge and opportunities for teaching and learning. The Curator of American Literature is a crucial partner in the development and provision of teaching and research programs in English, History, Literacy Studies, Popular Culture, American Studies, Comparative Literature, History of Art, and more.  The Curator leads the Libraries’ engagement and building of distinctive collections in these areas to advance discovery and learning that respects the significance of literature and books in traditional print and manuscript formats as well as opportunities for digital scholarship. The Curator of American Literature is responsible for promoting RBMS’ rich holdings through outreach and engagement, collection development, research and reference services across the Curator’s area of coverage, and cultivating partnerships that connect the Libraries’ learning environment, expertise, resources, and services with the varying needs of a diverse constituency.


  • Actively engages and communicates effectively with faculty, students, and staff, developing strong working relationships and serving as an authoritative resource for those seeking teaching and research support with rare books and special collections in the field of American literature as well as with other distinctive collections dealing with modern world literatures, art, and history.
  • Seeks opportunities to collaborate with academic departments to create meaningful and impactful strategies that incorporate RBMS’ American and modern literary holdings into the University’s teaching and research programs.
  • Builds and manages RBMS’ distinctive research collections of American and associated materials and historical collections to support the immediate curricular and research needs of the University’s faculty and students. The Curator will constantly assess user needs and emerging scholarly trends to develop and maintain relevant, high-quality services and collections.
  • Advances collaborative relationships with Special Collections Description and Access, Digital Initiatives, and Preservation and Reformatting to increase discovery, access, and innovative uses of the Libraries’ rare books holdings.
  • Actively develops local, regional, national, and international partnerships and collaborations to advance the strategic directions of the Libraries.
  • Supports and engages in fundraising, grant writing, marketing, and outreach that strengthen the Libraries’ programs, in partnership with the University’s Office for Advancement.
  • Participates proactively on library-wide committees, task forces, and teams to integrate RBMS’ modern literature holdings into the Libraries’ wider strategic initiatives.
  • Collaborates with other Special Collections curators and Area Studies and Subject librarians to develop interdisciplinary solutions to integrating distinctive intellectual content and services into the University’s wider academic environment.
  • Contributes actively to scholarship in special collections librarianship and academic fields related to American and modern literatures through active professional engagement and research, presenting at professional and scholarly conferences, and publishing in appropriate venues.
  • Is knowledgeable about and able to speak to a range of library issues, including scholarly communication, digital humanities and initiatives, copyright issues, and the pedagogical importance of Special Collections materials in undergraduate and graduate education.
  • Participates in OSUL’s exhibition program by curating gallery exhibitions focusing on American and modern literature and culture.

Required qualifications:

  • Accredited MLS obtained by time of appointment.
  • Demonstrated knowledge in the fields of literary studies, book history (broadly defined), and rare books librarianship.
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Experience interpreting special collections materials for a diverse range of audiences, including students, faculty/researchers, and the general public, through oral presentations, publications, and exhibitions.
  • 1-3 years’ experience working in a special collections environment

Preferred qualifications:

  • Graduate degree in a field associated with American literature or history.
  • Demonstrated experience with the scholarly research process.
  • Experience with digital initiatives in a special collections environment.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and creatively in a collaborative and complex environment.
  • Evidence of both professional initiative and flexibility.
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively and collegially with diverse user constituencies.
  • Experience in developing and delivering innovative instruction

About the OSU Libraries Rare Books and Manuscripts Library:
The OSU Libraries’ Rare Books and Manuscripts Library is a large and diverse collection that includes all areas of knowledge, from all areas of the world, from the ancient world to the modern era, including 3000-year-old Sumerian clay tablets, medieval manuscripts, substantial Renaissance and Early Modern collections, modern literature and history, audio-visual materials, and computer graphic arts. RBMS serves as an active teaching and research laboratory for students and scholars in the humanities and utilizes its collections to fulfill the Libraries’ strategic mission to provide its users with opportunities to engage with its diverse collections in meaningful and impactful ways.

About The Ohio State University:
Founded in 1870, The Ohio State University is a world-class public research university and the leading comprehensive teaching and research institution in the state of Ohio. With more than 63,000 students (including 56,000 in Columbus), the Wexner Medical Center, 14 colleges, 80 centers and 175 majors, the university offers its students tremendous breadth and depth of opportunity in the liberal arts, the sciences, and the professions.

The Ohio State University Libraries contribute to the University’s eminence as dynamic partners and campus leaders in advancing inquiry and discovery for OSU, the state of Ohio and for an ever expanding community of world scholars. Additional information about The Ohio State University Libraries is available at http://library.osu.edu.

The position is a full-time, permanent, 12-month tenure-track faculty appointment and reports to the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts. Salary and faculty rank are dependent on qualifications and experience.

The University offers competitive benefits in the form of 22 days’ vacation, 15 days’ sick leave, 10 holidays, hospitalization, major medical, surgical-medical, dental, vision, long-term disability insurance, and life insurance at 2.5 times one’s annual salary. State and alternative retirement choices are also available. For a summary of benefits, see: http://go.osu.edu/benefitssummary.

Application: Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Preference will be given to applications received by February 1, 2016. Please send cover letter, CV, references, and salary history and requirements to Kelly Rose at rose.900@osu.edu. Please include Curator of American Literature in the subject field.

Contact Information: Kelly Rose, Human Resources, 1858 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, 614-292-5917.

The Ohio State University is an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation or identity, national origin, disability status, or protected veteran status.


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