• Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Curator of English and American Literature

    Location US-NY-Manhattan
    Job ID
    # of Openings Remaining
    Full-Time Regular
    BRG Berg Collection
  • Overview

    The New York Public Library seeks a dynamic and enthusiastic professional to serve as Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Curator of English and American Literature. The curator will provide leadership for the development, exhibition, interpretation, and promotion of distinctive literary holdings across The Library’s special collections to support advanced research and inspire lifelong learning for the general public.


    The New York Public Library’s (NYPL) landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building houses outstanding collections, expert staff, and magnificent reading rooms which support a mission to advance knowledge and inspire lifelong learning. Literary holdings include, but are not limited to, The Library’s Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature. Part of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, which is responsible for the service and stewardship of unique archival and literary collections, the Berg Collection is one of the world’s most celebrated collections of literary material. Originally formed as an author collection with the bequest of Henry and Albert Berg, the collections have expanded by gift and purchase to encompass a broad range of English and American literature. Strengths of the collections support research in the Irish Literary Renaissance; British poets of the First World War; early and late Modernism; Bloomsbury; the Black Mountain poets; the Beats; and the New York School. Significant archival holdings include the papers of Paul Auster, Joseph Conrad, Alfred Kazin, Jack Kerouac, Annie Proulx, Terry Southern, and Virginia Woolf. Other notable literary archives at The Library include the papers of author Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote, the records of The New Yorker, and the publishing company Farrar, Straus & Giroux.


    The curator will be responsible for developing unique literary collections in print and manuscript; supporting their use through assistance to researchers; community engagement; digital humanities initiatives; exhibitions, programming, publication and other outreach activity. The curator will also cultivate and maintain relationships with established and potential donors, and work as part of the management team in close collaboration with Collection Development, Exhibitions Department, and Special Collections and Preservation Services. The successful applicant for the curatorial position will demonstrate a historical understanding of the intellectual content and materiality of literary collections, their use in contemporary scholarship, as well as providing vision for the acquisition of literary archives. 

    Principal Responsibilities

    Under the general direction of the Assistant Director for Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books, the Berg Curator will be responsible for the following areas:


    Curatorial Responsibilities:

    • Develop rare and special collections in literature in English and American Literature through gift and purchase, and facilitate new research in this area
    • Provide expertise on literary collections and collaborate with Exhibitions staff on research to culminate in exhibitions and supporting publications
    • Collaborate with Archives and Special Formats Processing Departments including recommendations for description of literary collections to increase access and collection use, e. g. In regard bibliographic records, finding aids


    Public Service and Programming Responsibilities:

    • Provide research and reference assistance to scholarly and general users, and review research fellowship applications to support research in literary collections
    • Promote strategies to increase access to research collections and contribute to departmental and institution-wide initiatives
    • Support teaching, outreach, and scholarly initiatives by contextualizing the collections through exhibitions, presentation, publications, seminars, class instruction and public programs
    • Liaise with the public service staff in Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books to support research and reference services to on-site and remote patrons


    Professional and Other Responsibilities:

    • Partner with fundraising professionals to pursue and manage grants for supporting acquisitions and conservation, while also building relationships with private donors and funding agencies
    • Maintain a personal program of continuous education and professional development, and keep current on historiographical concerns, trends in the literary field, digital publishing, and scholarly communication
    • Perform related duties as required

    Managerial/ Supervisory Responsibilities

    The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Curator of English and American Literature will coordinate the work of specialists whose roles are primarily serving researchers across the reading rooms of Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books and in the processing of Berg Collection, in close coordination with colleagues across the library, locally and at the NYPL’s Library Services Center.

    NYPL Core Values

    • Helpful
    • Resourceful
    • Curious

    Minimum Qualifications

    • Advanced degree in English and/or American Literature, or related field. Ph.D., or an MLS from an ALA accredited program and advanced subject degree in English and/or American Literature preferred
    • Minimum of five years of progressively responsible experience in special collections setting in a research library, or similar institution
    • Substantial experience and comfort with public speaking and instruction that promotes the value and significance of humanities research and special collections
    • Demonstrated knowledge of best practices in research methods and emerging trends in humanities and social science
    • Record of professional engagement and contribution such as research, publication, and involvement in pertinent professional and scholarly organizations
    • Demonstrated ability to develop and foster relationships with donors, collectors, and partner institutions
    • Demonstrated experience with managing an acquisition budget.
    • Excellent communications skills, including the ability to work effectively with all levels of staff and public researchers
    • Strong computer skills including Microsoft Office Suite and Google applications

    Preferred Qualifications

    • Knowledge of market for literary manuscripts and archival material strongly preferred
    • Working knowledge of the principles and methods of digital humanities

    Work Environment

    • Urban Public / Research Library
    • Core work will take place in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building in midtown Manhattan but occasional travel to one or more Library facilities will be necessary
    • Other duties may require site visits to inspect and review collections at donors’ homes or in storage facilities.
    • Lifting of heavy boxes
    • Exposure to dust

    Union / Non Union

    Non Union


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