Curator, Music Division

Job ID
# of Openings Remaining
Full-Time Regular
MUS LPA Music Research Division


Since the inception of The New York Public Library in 1895, the Music Division has been one of the world’s pre-eminent collections devoted to music. Today it is part of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, a research and circulating library opened in 1965 with divisions dedicated to music, theatre, dance, and recorded sound. Located on the Lincoln Center campus, the Library for the Performing Arts serves 320,000 visitors and scholars annually through its circulating and research collections and active calendar of public programs and exhibitions. 


The Music Division’s Research and Circulating Collections comprise well over two million items, including some of the Library’s most prized collections. Chief among the division’s legacy holdings is the 7,000 volumes of the Musical Library of Joseph W. Drexel which is the cornerstone of the Music Division’s legacy and a foundational component of the division’s collecting profile.  Additionally, the Division’s American Music Collection, which was formed in 1936, is recognized worldwide as one of the most important collections devoted to American music. This exceptional collection has been further enriched by recent acquisitions including the archives of John Cage, Arthur Russell, and Lou Reed.


Strategic direction of the Library:

The Music Division advances  the strategic direction of the Library by supporting and promoting research, collaboration, creativity, discussion, and exposition of the performing arts. The Division expands, exposes, preserves, documents, and animates our collections for artists and researchers.


The Music Curator guides the division’s worldwide presence within the global community of researchers and scholars as well as our local community of young and life-long learners. The Music Curator provides leadership, vision, direction, curation, advocacy and accountability in managing all aspects of the Music Division’s collections, acquisitions, programs, publications, financials, fundraising outreach, and reference services.


Principal Responsibilities

Under the direction of the Deputy Director for Research & Collections Services, the Music Curator will perform the following functions:


  • Shape and strengthen the Division’s profile in the national and international field of music libraries, academic and public institutions, and service organizations in which the Music Division plays a key role.
  • Lead the Division’s acquisitions and collections profile, which includes an active and robust circulating collection and world-class research collection and special collections, a significant portion of which is centered in the area of American music.
  • Foster active staff involvement in the work of relevant professional associations and service organizations whose history and mission intersects with that of the Music Division and the Library.
  • Partner with NYPL’s educational outreach and other external institutions on educational initiatives which may include developing and delivering experiential and integrated education activities on behalf of the Music Division and the Library, and fostering relationships with appropriate schools, universities, organizations, and others.
  • Engage with key stakeholders: donors, creators, scholars, and administrators in aligning the Library’s strategic direction with the needs of the local, national, and international music community. Undertake outreach and develop fundraising partnerships.
  • Undertake fundraising to support Division activities and acquisitions, identifying and pursuing grant applications with Development, building relationships with private donors and funding bodies.
  • Develop a strategic plan for creating enhanced access and discoverability of the Music Division’s legacy holdings, and oversee the robust future growth of its general circulating and research collections, as well as the ongoing collection development activities in the area of Special Collections and Archives, particularly in the area of American music.
  • Provide reference services to library users.
  • Partner with Exhibitions and Programming staff within LPA and throughout NYPL, and manage related external partnerships for loan requests and other matters.

Managerial/ Supervisory Responsibilities

  • The position supervises a circulating and research collections staff of 5.5 FTEs
  • Oversees the planning and implementation of the Music Division’s operating budget and spending allocations. 

Key Competencies

  • Articulate and carry out the priorities of the Music Division and its staff in terms of curatorial oversight, establishing a professional tone that accurately and consistently represents the legacy and values of the institution and its international profile.
  • Clearly identify, articulate, analyze, and prioritize collection strategies that may involve rights, access, and fair use.
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate effectively, to establish productive and positive relationships with colleagues and constituents including donors, representatives of other institutions and funding sources, as well as the professional community of performing artists and scholars who have attained the highest levels of recognition in their profession.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Graduate degree in Musicology, a graduate degree in a related field, or commensurate professional experience
  • 5 years experience and demonstrated accomplishments in a research library, university, museum, or a similar institution, including progressive responsibilities administering and managing a large research and circulating collection in the field of music.
  • Strong subject expertise in music, including a focus on American music, and an informed background in Dance, Theatre, and Recorded Sound.
  • Demonstrated responsive leadership and experience in planning and implementation, assessment, budgeting, personnel management, and information technology.
  • Ability to articulate a vision for the future of library services in the context of emerging information resources, needs, and expectations.

Preferred Qualifications

  • ALA-accredited Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies,
  • Demonstrated knowledge in archival print, audio, and video materials, including preservation and digitization best practices

Work Environment

  • Most of the Music Curator’s core work will take place within the environment of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.
  • Other duties may require site visits to view collections, and to donor’s homes, which may require inspecting collections, lifting heavy boxes, creating inventories, and establishing ongoing  relationships with donors.
  • Represent the Music Division at national and international conferences as well as local organizational functions, concerts, and events, creating and sustaining important networking and professional relationships.

Union / Non Union

Non Union


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