Curator of European Books - John Carter Brown Library

The Curator of European Books serves as the ambassador – and chief proselytizer – for these extraordinary collections...

Curator of European Books - John Carter Brown Library

The John Carter Brown Library has one of the world's most important collections of books related to the history of the Americas across the period stretching from the arrival of Europeans in the Americas (c. 1492) through to the end of the colonial period (c. 1825). European books on the history of the Americas lie distinctly at its core. Throughout its history, the Library has consistently added significant holdings to its world-renowned collection of Americana, including not only Spanish and Portuguese works but also Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian and Slavic books. The Curator of European Books serves as the ambassador – and chief proselytizer – for these extraordinary collections. Responsibilities include: the Library's continued growth through acquisitions and collection development; its interpretation for scholars and the general public, through onsite and digital engagement; exhibition and publication preparation; the provision of reference services; identifying materials for preservation and conservation; and other duties as assigned by the Director/Librarian, to whom this position reports. It is essential that the incoming Curator of European Books have a solid grasp on the history of the Americas and to be able to effectively and meaningfully present material in imperial history, cultural history, the history of the book, and other relevant disciplines to staff, fellows, researchers, the Brown community, and the world outside of Brown.

Responsibilities Include:

  1. Promoting the Use of the Library Collection by Fellows, Researchers, Students, and Other Interested Publics: The Curator of European Books serves researchers both onsite and virtually by providing information about the JCB's collection – and especially its European books – to scholarly and nonscholarly constituencies. This requires continual study of the Library's holdings, mastery of relevant bibliographical resources, and a knowledge of the history of Europe and the Americas. Occasional assistance in the teaching of courses out of the collection will also be expected.
  2. Conducting Individual and Collaborative Research and Writing Based on the Collection: In order to enhance her/his understanding of the collection, the Curator of European Books is encouraged to undertake individual and collaborative research projects and to produce exhibitions based on the collection. It is expected that written articles will emerge from this research, which will be published either online as part of the Library's broader digital engagement, outreach, and curation program or through advanced scholarly journals that bring prominence and prestige to the Library. This research is by and large distinct from individual research projects that the curator may undertake, which would be outside of the curator's institutional time, although the Library will make every effort to support individual research undertaken by members of the curatorial staff as long as it does not interfere with other duties, and will provide dedicated time away from the Library to carry out such occasional research
  3. Acquisitions and Collection Development: In conjunction with the Director and other members of the curatorial staff, the Curator of European Books will actively participate in acquisitions decisions. Deep knowledge of the existing collection is a prerequisite for wise counsel on acquisitions, as is regular contact and close relations with leading antiquarian book dealers and collectors. The Curator will engage with the current (and past) market in books to be able to recognize material that would fill gaps in the collection, to define areas where the collection might expand and deepen, and to advise on potential acquisitions in the areas of European books and occasional manuscripts across the range of geographic fields, as well as secondary resources in all forms, analog and digital.
  4. Digital Engagement, Outreach, and Collection Management: The Curator of European Books is involved with the cataloguing, storage, conservation and preservation of materials in a variety of formats, especially books and manuscripts. As the Library moves toward an increasingly digital profile, however, the Curator of European Books will also engage with all aspects of the Library's digital presence. It is therefore essential that s/he understand or can learn aspects of digitizing programs to prepare materials for them and to manipulate digitized images afterwards, with particular emphasis on the control of metadata and search engines. The incumbent will also manage and manipulate social media tools to serve as a vehicle for content about materials from the collection and share this content with a wider community as an ambassador of the collection.
  5. Assisting the Director in Fulfilling the Mission of the Institution: The Curator of European Books reports directly to the Director/Librarian of the JCB. As a result, it is essential that the curator be cognizant of the larger strategic goals of the institution and serve as a supportive member of the Library's senior staff. In public settings, the incumbent would be expected to discuss and reinforce current programs and activities as s/he discusses the history and traditions of the institution. It is also important that the Curator function as a project manager for long-term projects that are conceived of by the Director and carried out by all divisions of the Library, including but not limited to exhibitions, programming, and publications.


¨      Ph.D. or extensive curatorial/scholarly experience in a field related to European and/or Atlantic world history, including but not limited to history, art history, literary studies, geography, anthropology, or other cognate disciplines; minimum of 5 years of experience with library collections; experience with the stewardship of unique materials and discovery tools to access these collections; knowledge of metadata and cataloguing concepts

¨      Demonstrated aptitude for teaching and developing instructional materials for advanced researchers and students of all levels, including digital outreach and the use of electronic media for a robust range of pedagogical and scholarly activities

¨      Demonstrated experience in rare materials and/or special collection libraries

¨      Ability to speak publicly and write with demonstrable skill, including grant and proposal writing as well as advanced scholarship

¨      Strong aptitude in foreign languages and knowledge of history/geography are essential

¨      Interest in or ability to link traditional topics in the history of the Americas with emerging technologies, including digital humanities and/or web-based projects

¨      Ability to manage projects effectively and independently; strong organizational, administrative and time management skills; initiative, confidence, and good judgment to prioritize, problem-solve, and execute tasks in a timely manager; ability to work with a diverse group of people, maintaining confidentiality, tact, and diplomacy.


Other Information:

Must occasionally be able to work at night and on weekends because of planned events and activities during those times, as well as occasional travel for professional meetings and scholarly activities.

The successful candidate must pass a criminal background check and education verification.

To Apply: Applications may be submitted through Brown University's career opportunities website:

Review of applications will continue until the position is filled.