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Special Collections Metadata Librarian

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Joined: 16/Mar/2021
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    Posted: 08/Oct/2021 at 11:32am

Special Collections Metadata Librarian


General Summary: 

The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center is the principal repository of rare books, manuscripts, and archives in the University of Chicago Library: Rare books and early manuscripts in Special Collections include Homer, Byzantine Gospels and liturgical texts, Renaissance humanism, English court and manorial documents, history of religion and philosophy, history of science and medicine, printed works of Frédéric Chopin, historical children’s books, European Jewish life and culture, and English and American modern poetry. 

Under the direction of the Curator of Rare Books, the Special Collections Metadata Librarian provides leadership, coordination, and management of cataloging activities, creation of metadata, and discovery of rare and unique holdings of Special Collections. Performs cataloging according to Descriptive Cataloging for Rare Materials (DCRM) standards for printed and manuscript materials, including codex manuscripts. Works in close collaboration with the Library’s Technical Services Department and Integrated Library Systems. As part of the team of metadata librarians in the Library, provides expertise and strategic direction on metadata standards for special collections resources, and participates in local and national metadata initiatives.  Plans, develops, implements, and oversees projects to catalog hidden collections. In collaboration with the Curator of Rare Books, supervises the work of student assistants. 

Essential Functions: 

Metadata Creation and Management  

  • Perform original and complex copy cataloging of printed materials with all associated authority work, using the following standards: RDA, AACR2R, MARC-21, DCRM suite, LCSH, LC Classification, controlled vocabularies (RBMS, AAT, TGM, etc.), NACO, BIBCO, and SACO 
  • Perform original cataloging of codex manuscripts and other early modern manuscript materials with all associated authority work utilizing AMREMM and DCRM(MSS) standards 
  • Provide support for collection development, including accessioning gifts and donor stewardship 
  • Manage all materials description within the Rare Books Unit, including, with the Curator of Rare Books, identifying bibliographic clean-up activities and projects to improve discovery of  rare book and manuscript materials 
  • Update master records as needed in OCLC Connexion for rare books, manuscripts, and archives 
  • Maintain SCRC Metadata Management manual, with an emphasis on rare books and codex manuscripts 
  • Maintain statistics, and produce and analyze reports 

Liaison with Library Technical Services Department  

  • Serve as Technical Services Policy Group representative for Special Collections; advocate for specific needs of Special Collections metadata in Library catalog including identifying metadata cleanup projects of Special Collections metadata in anticipation of ILS migration to FOLIO 
  • Collaborate with Head of Metadata Management Services to design and implement approaches to cataloging rare books, with an emphasis on provenance description and tracing, including enhanced description for pre-1700 and other select rare books 
  • Participate in Linked Data pilot projects as a representative for Special Collections metadata 
  • Provide ad hoc consultations for rare materials cataloging in collections across the Library 

Supervision and coordination  

  • Collaborate with the Curator of Rare Books in the training and supervision of student Rare Books Assistants, including assigning, monitoring, and evaluating work 
  • Coordinate workflow and facilitate the work of Technical Services staff assigned to special collections materials, including maintaining documentation, responding to questions and supporting quality control 
  • Adjust assignments as needed to accommodate Library and Special Collections priorities 

Public Services  

  • Serve as a resource for technical expertise and problem-solving within Special Collections on cataloging issues 
  • Provide regular reader-services’ desk shifts 
  • Participate in regular rotations for evening hours coverage and public events staffing 
  • Provide bibliographic support for print and online exhibition and publication projects 
  • Contribute to Special Collections social media on a regular basis 

Other Functions  

  • Serve on Library committees and other groups, including, but not limited to Catalogers’ Forum, Technical Services Policy Group 
  • Maintain active participation in national organizations such as, but not limited to, ALA, ACRL, RBMS, ALCTS 
  • Contribute as appropriate to the scholarly community and the library profession 




  • Graduate degree from an ALA-accredited library school 
  • Minimum of two years of successful experience in cataloging and metadata services in a special collections or research library 
  • Knowledge of bibliographic description for rare materials, RDA, AACR2R, DCRM suite, LC classification, LCSH, MARC-21 and other standards for descriptive metadata; AMREMM and Dublin Core  


  • An advanced subject degree in a humanities or social science discipline 
  • Working knowledge of a range of Western European languages, preferably including German and/or Latin and reading proficiency in a romance language 
  • Knowledge of current trends and methodologies in bibliographic description and metadata standards for rare books, manuscripts, ephemera, and other special collections materials 
  • Strong commitment to user-oriented bibliographic and metadata services based on an understanding of research and teaching needs of special collections users 
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills, subject research skills, interpersonal and organizational skills, and creativity  
  • An ability to communicate effectively and work well with colleagues, donors, faculty, students and other Library users individually and in groups 
  • Ability to take initiative and work independently 
  • Experience contributing to the Program for Cooperative Cataloging (BIBCO, NACO, SACO, CONSER) 
  • Experience with non-MARC metadata standards (e.g., Dublin Core); understanding of linked data principles, including RDF and ontologies as well as emerging metadata standards (e.g., BIBFRAME) and identity management systems (e.g., ISNI, VIAF, ORCID) 

Physical Demands:  Ability to lift a 40-pound box 

Application Instructions

To Apply: Submit cover letter, curriculum vitae, and reference contact information online through the University of Chicago's Academic Recruiting website: Review of applications will begin after November 8, 2021. Screening of applications will continue until the position is filled or the search is closed. 

Salary and Benefits: Appointment salary based on qualifications and experience. Benefits include retirement plan, insurance, and paid time off.

Questions: Contact Kara Hastings, HR Generalist,

Equal Employment Opportunity Statement

We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange. The University’s Statements on Diversity are at

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-1032 or email with their request.

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