George S. Parker II ’51 Curator of Maps and Prints – John Carter Brown Library
The John Carter Brown Library has one of the world’s most important collections of maps and atlases related to the history of the Americas and, more broadly, to the entire world, across the period stretching from the earliest printed atlases (c. 1472) through to maps showcasing the end of the colonial period (c. 1825). The Library has consistently added significant geographical works to its world-renowned collection of Americana. The print collection, albeit smaller, has likewise continued to grow, and consists of a separate collection of prints as well as a collection of mostly British political cartoons. The George S. Parker II ’51 Curator of Maps and Prints serves as the chief ambassador – and chief proselytizer – for both of these extraordinary collections. Responsibilities for this collection include: its 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 Maps and Prints have a solid grasp on the history of the Americas and the history of maps (and, ideally, how the two intersect) so as to be able to answer reference questions concerning the collection, and to be able to effectively and meaningfully present cartographic material to staff, fellows, researchers, the Brown community, and the world outside of Brown.
1. Promoting the Use of the Map and Print Collections by Fellows, Researchers, Students, and Other Interested Publics: The Curator of Maps and Prints serves researchers both onsite and virtually by providing information about the JCB’s cartographic and print collection 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 cartography. 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 Maps and Prints 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 Maps and Prints Curator 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 and map dealers and collectors. The Curator will engage with the current (and past) market in maps and 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 sheet maps, atlases, maps in books, prints and views, and secondary resources in all forms, analog and digital.
4. Digital Engagement, Outreach, and Collection Management: The Curator of Maps and Prints is involved with the cataloguing, storage, conservation and preservation of materials in a variety of formats, but especially atlases, maps, and prints. As the Library moves toward an increasingly digital profile, however, the Curator of Maps and Prints 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 cartographical 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 Maps and Prints 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 the history of cartography, including but not limited to history, art history, literary studies, geography, anthropology, or other cognate disciplines; minimum of 5 years of experience with map and/or print collections; experience with the stewardship of unique collections 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
– Familiarity with or strong aptitude in foreign languages and knowledge of history/geography are highly desirable
– Interest or ability in linking the study of historical maps and atlases with emerging technologies, including digital humanities and/or GIS-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.
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.