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The Pennsylvania State University
University Park
Website URL:
Posted: 03/22/2021
Curator for African American Collections

Curator for African American Collections

The Pennsylvania State University Libraries seek creative, forward-thinking, collaborative applicants for a new full-time, tenure-track faculty appointment as Curator for African American Collections in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library.

The Pennsylvania State University is committed to and accountable for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in all of its forms. We embrace individual uniqueness, foster a culture of inclusion that supports both broad and specific diversity initiatives, leverage the educational and institutional benefits of diversity, and engage all individuals to help them thrive. We value inclusion as a core strength and an essential element of our public service mission. More information on Penn State's commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence can be found by visiting Information about the University Libraries' Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility efforts can be found by visiting

Position Summary

Reporting to the Head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library (SCL), the Curator for African American Collections will play a key and collaborative role in building, stewarding, supporting research and teaching, and promoting use and engagement with collections documenting African American Life and Culture in all formats, including rare book, print, archival, and born-digital materials. As a member of the SCL curatorial team, this position will join others in leading efforts to ethically and responsibly develop collections and documentation of African American Life and Culture across subject areas. The Libraries will also look to this position to advance its initiatives to diversify the social and cultural perspectives represented in collections and to support interdisciplinary research and learning (as detailed in

The Curator for African American Collections will actively promote use and engagement with collections through reference and research consultation, outreach, public programming, and teaching, and will serve as a resource for faculty, students, staff, and researchers interested in the Libraries' distinctive African American collections. This position will proactively collaborate with the Center for Black Digital Research/#DigBlk, collegiate faculty, and Libraries' faculty and staff to support teaching with primary sources, digital research and scholarship, and public humanities initiatives to enhance access to African American collections and to support the research and teaching needs of Penn State community. This position will help steward the future #DigBlk/Blockson commons area on the 3rd floor of Pattee Library, helping to cultivate a welcoming space for diverse students to utilize library spaces and collections for research, engagement, and collaboration. This position will also develop relationships with donors, community members, and stakeholders to support the acquisition and ongoing stewardship of collections and to promote broad community engagement with African American collections.

The Curator for African American Collections is expected to participate in library, college, and university governance and devote time to research, scholarly activity, and service to the University, the public, and the profession. New faculty benefit from the strong mentoring program developed by the University Libraries to support new faculty in tenure-track appointments in fulfilling expectations in the areas of librarianship, research, and service.


• Leads efforts in the Eberly Family Special Collections Library (SCL) to develop collections and documentation of African American Life and Culture across all subject areas and in all formats, including rare book, print, archival, and born-digital materials, through donation and purchase.

• Leverages existing programs for web archiving and oral history, and explores other models for collecting and documenting such as community archiving.

• Stewards and promotes the use of current African American collections held by SCL, including the Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora, the Black History and Literature collection, and the Harry Henderson Papers, among others. Critically assesses current SCL collections across all subject areas to uncover hidden collections documenting African American Life and Culture and make these more discoverable and accessible.

• Collaborates with the Center for Black Digital Research/#DigBlk team and librarians, including the CBDR Librarian and Black Data Curation Librarian, to support digital research projects that utilize African American collections. Works with #Dig/Blk to create inclusive exhibits, programming, and space emerging from the materials and spirit of the Libraries' African American collections, as well as the work of #DigBlk including the collection, the Black Women's Organizing Archive, and Douglass Day.

• Liaises with faculty in the University Libraries, including the Social Sciences, History, and Literature Librarians among others, and faculty in academic departments to support research and teaching with African American collections.

• Promotes student and community engagement with African American collections through outreach efforts including exhibits, events, and programs, geared toward audiences across Penn State campuses and in the local and regional community.

• Develops relationships with key communities and stakeholders across Penn State University and the Commonwealth, maintains strong relations with donors and dealers/booksellers, and pursues collaborations and partnerships to support community engagement and archiving.

• Provides research consultation and instruction with regular hours at the reference desk and instruction sessions, works alongside colleagues in assisting students, faculty, alumni, and other researchers with the discovery of resources appropriate for their research needs.

• Supervises the Blockson Graduate Assistant and manages the current and future Blockson space on the 3rd Floor of Pattee Library.


• Master's degree in Library and Information Science, Archival Studies, or related field, or equivalent education and experience (subject expertise combined with appropriate teaching experience and/or library experience).

• Familiarity with core functions and services in archives and special collections, including appraisal and selection, description and preservation, reference and teaching, and outreach and engagement.

• Ability to build and maintain effective interpersonal relationships with faculty, staff, students, donors and alumni, dealers/booksellers, administrators, and institutional partners.

• Commitment to fostering a diverse educational environment and workplace and an ability to work effectively with a diverse faculty, staff, and student population.

• Knowledge of current trends and issues in academic libraries, higher education, and relevant subject disciplines.

• Excellent written and oral communication skills.

• Evidence of ability to organize and analyze information, set priorities, manage projects and meet deadlines, and work collaboratively alongside team members.

• Proficiency with standard computer office applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or other software.

• Commitment to service at local, regional, or national level, and to research and scholarship.

The University Libraries values diversity of thought, perspective, experience and people, and is actively committed to a culture of inclusion and respect. We encourage candidates to apply who thrive in a welcoming multicultural environment. More information on Penn State's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence, can be found by visiting http:// For additional information about the Libraries' diversity efforts, please visit http:// The Penn State University Libraries are a strategic asset to Penn State, advancing intellectual discovery, information literacy, and lifelong learning, all in support of the University's strategic goals in teaching, research, service, and outreach.

The University Libraries is ranked among the top 10 research libraries in North America, according to the Association for Research Libraries investment rankings, and provides services at University Park and 22 other campus locations throughout Pennsylvania as well as online. We serve more than 6,400 faculty and 46,800 students at University Park, and approximately 97,500 students university-wide. More than 120 faculty librarians in the University Libraries benefit from extensive technological resources and research support services.

Penn State is a member of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the Association of American Universities, and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The University Libraries is a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Center for Research Libraries, Digital Preservation Network, AP Trust, SPARC, CNI, the ACRL Diversity Alliance and a number of other organizations.

The University Park campus is set in State College, a university town located in central Pennsylvania. State College offers a vibrant community with outstanding recreational facilities, a low crime rate, and excellent public schools. The campus is within a half-days drive to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, or Pittsburgh. The University Park Airport is served by three major carriers with flights to Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit. For more information, please visit http:// and http://

Compensation and Benefits:

Rank and salary are dependent upon qualifications and experience. Fringe benefits include liberal vacation, excellent insurance and health care coverage, state or TIAA retirement options, and educational privileges. In addition, faculty in the University Libraries are afforded funds for professional development travel annually.

Application Instructions:

Applications and all supporting materials must be submitted online. To be considered for the position, interested candidates should upload a letter of application, resume or C.V., and the names and contact information of three professional references (including email addresses). All application materials should be uploaded at the same time at the time of application. Review of applications will begin March 12, 2021 and continue until position is filled. Questions may be addressed to University Libraries Human Resources.

Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.

Apply online at

CAMPUS SECURITY CRIME STATISTICS: For more about safety at Penn State, and to review the Annual Security Report which contains information about crime statistics and other safety and security matters, please go to, which will also provide you with detail on how to request a hard copy of the Annual Security Report.

Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.