UBC Library 

The University of British Columbia Library is one of the largest academic libraries in Canada, ranked 14th among the Association of Research Libraries. UBC Library has 14 branches and divisions, two campuses (Vancouver and Kelowna), one off-site hospital library, and the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre – a multi-purpose teaching and learning facility. 

The Library’s collection of over 7M items includes 1.4M ebooks, 229,020 electronic journals, 850,000 maps, audio, DVD/video and graphic materials, and 1, 703 bibliographic and fulltext databases. 

More than 300 knowledgeable employees – librarians, management and professional staff, support staff and student staff – provide users with the excellent resources and services that they need to further their research, teaching and learning. 

The Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) Division holds and manages the majority of the Library’s rare books, maps and manuscripts with a special emphasis on material related to British Columbia. The archival collections at RBSC include the world-renowned Chung Collection, the archives of artist and author Douglas Coupland and the Langmann Family Collection of B.C. Photographs, containing over 18,000 images of B.C. and the Pacific Northwest. More information about Rare Books and Special Collections can be found online

The UBC Library Strategic Plan 2010-2015 can be viewed at library.ubc.ca/strategicplan/



Reporting to the Associate University Librarian (AUL) Collection Development and Management Programs, the Head of Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) will guide the unit through its continuing evolution into a dynamic and innovative resource serving diverse and changing scholarly needs and interests. The Head will articulate a vision and strategic direction that promotes the visibility, accessibility and impact of the University’s primary rare and unique research materials, facilitates collaboration with relevant initiatives and programs, participates in the development of fundraising strategies and donor stewardship and integrates RBSC’s rare and unique holdings into teaching, research and learning activities at UBC and beyond. 

The Head advises the AUL, Collection Development and Management Programs and the University Librarian on the identification and acquisition of rare books and special collections, and works closely with the Director of Library Development in external advancement efforts. The Head participates in developing and implementing policies and procedures that enhance growth of and access to special collections, working collaboratively with other Library units. Within the context of a changing special collections environment, the Head will be 

knowledgeable in the emerging areas of digital scholarship and its intersection with Special Collections holdings, and will foster advancement in these new areas of scholarship. 




  • An ALA-accredited MLIS or equivalent degree with a strong academic background, preferably at the graduate level in humanities in a relevant subject area or an equivalent combination of education and experience. 
  • Demonstrated experience over at least five years in acquiring and managing rare books and/or special collections in an academic or research environment is required and, preferably, experience with archival material. 
  • A working knowledge of a second language (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Latin, French. 
  • Demonstrated success in identifying, cultivating and stewarding donor relationships. 
  • Familiarity with current scholarship and research methods involving the use of rare books and manuscripts, as well as extensive knowledge of the antiquarian book trade, rare books, manuscripts and archives. 
  • Working knowledge and demonstrated ability in addressing the processing, curatorial and conservation issues associated with special collections and archives. 
  • Experience in cultivating successful donor relationships and expertise in gift-in-kind donations. 
  • An understanding of technologies role in enhancing information discovery and access, including the growing importance of collecting, preserving and providing access to born-digital primary source materials. 
  • Proven management and supervisory experience with success in leading, guiding and fostering a dynamic and respectful workplace. 
  • Excellent organizational, planning and project management skills, including sound judgment and ability to implement organizational change. 
  • Successful experience developing and managing outreach and exhibition programs. 
  • Proven record of effective collaboration with students, faculty, donors and researchers. 
  • Record of achievement in fundraising, writing and obtaining grants, gifts and awards. 


  • Relevant research experience, publication, or demonstrated record of scholarly activity in the field of book history and print culture 
  • Knowledge of current and emerging trends that support the development of digital collections. 
  • Excellent knowledge of the history of the book 
  • Bibliographical expertise 
  • Experience with the Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board certification process. 



The Head of RBSC reports to the AUL, Collection Development and Management Programs and works closely with the Head of Technical Services, Digital Initiatives, Library Development, Conservator and liaises with other Public Service Unit Heads to ensure the effective management of an increasingly integrate rare book and archival infrastructure. The Head works with the Director of Communications as well as Director of Development in working with external communities to both secure and promote RBSC collections. The Head works closely and cooperatively with the University Archivist in the development of policies relating to the shared reading room area as well as joint storage facilities. Works closely with Communications and IKBLC staff on promotion, marketing and community engagement activities relating to RBSC collections. The Head of RBSC leads, with a participatory and inclusive style, current staff of one librarian, one archivist and five library assistants as well as student workers. RBSC is a highly productive environment, one characterized by teamwork, respect, and collegiality. Evening and weekend work may be required. 




  • Serves as the unit head for RBSC with programmatic responsibility for RBSC functional areas and direct supervision of librarians and staff. 
  • Oversees reference, instruction services and use of RBSC resources for faculty, staff and students to meet research, study, and teaching needs. 
  • Coordinates the development and management of print, manuscript, map, and archival collections, building upon existing strengths and collaboratively exploring new areas for development. 
  • Provides dynamic leadership in shaping services, promotion of the collections and outreach to academic departments, individual teaching faculty, and relevant campus groups to integrate RBSC resources and services into the coursework or programming of those groups. 
  • Oversees the implementation of systems and workflows for requesting and tracking the use of special collections material by researchers and staff. 
  • In consultation with the Head of Technical Services and following established Technical Services standards and procedures, identifies and quantifies metadata, preservation and cataloguing needs. Following established Technical Services standards and procedures ensures the cataloguing of rare maps and the accessioning of manuscripts and photographs. 
  • Identifies opportunities (e.g. lectures, exhibits, publications) to showcase and highlight the Library’s special collections. Maybe asked to assist in the preparation and organization of such Library events as requested. 
  • Serves as a resource to the rest of the Library with regard to issues relating to special or rare materials. 
  • Working with the Library’s Facilities Manager and the AUL, Collection Development and Management Programs to ensure the physical care of the Library’s special or rare collections. Works with CTS and Conservation staff to protect these collections from deterioration, loss or damage. 
  • As appropriate, works with other rare book libraries, archives or special collections located at UBC and in British Columbia (e.g. Museum of Anthropology archives, Belkin Art Gallery) 


  • Identifies and advises the AUL, Collections Development and Management Programs on the development of new concentration for the Library’s rare books and special collections and the growth of traditional areas of strength. 
  • Oversees the acquisition of resources in accordance with RBSC collection policy and as determined by the AUL, Collection Development and Management Programs. 
  • Works closely with the Library Development team to build a robust program to engage, cultivate, and steward donors and other supporters and solicit and encourage gifts from prospective donors. 
  • Attends meetings of the Faculty of Arts or other Faculties where they concern the Division. 
  • As required, establishes professional working relationships with antiquarian booksellers. 
  • Keeps abreast of developments in the field of local and Canadian history, rare books, librarianship and archives management. 
  • Promotes the collection to the community at large to enhance the visibility on an international level. 


  • Ensures the development and revision of divisional procedures as necessary. 
  • Participates in the interviewing and selecting of new professional and support staff. 
  • Ensures the necessary divisional orientation of all new staff and arranges for further training as appropriate. 
  • In discussion with the other division staff, prepares budget submissions and grant applications for RBSC. 
  • Prepares probationary annual performance appraisal reports for staff and actively promotes teamwork, collaboration, continuous learning and staff development within the framework of a learning organization. 
  • Oversee the compilation of statistics and develops narrative and statistical reports on RBSC activities and programs. Analyzes RBSC activities and statistics and tracks institutional trends to facilitate comparison to national trends
  • Prepares annual and other reports on the operation of the Rare Books and Special Collections Division as requested.
  • Conducts regular RBSC meetings to ensure employees are kept up-to-date on RBSC activities, projects, and initiatives. Meets regularly and communicates with colleagues in UBC Library units (CTS, DI, Asian and LSIT) to co-ordinate collaborative work. 


Terms of Appointment and Salary

This position will be filled as a full time ongoing position with a five year administrative term as Head, Rare Books & Special Collections (renewable). If eligible and qualified, the successful applicant may be appointed with a confirmed appointment. 

Salary will be commensurate with experience and academic/professional qualifications. 

UBC hires on the basis of merit and is committed to employment equity. The University especially welcomes applications from visible minority groups, women, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, persons of minority sexual orientations and gender identities, and others with the skills and knowledge to engage productively with diverse communities. We encourage all qualified applicants to apply. However, Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada will be given priority. 

Applications will include: a letter of application, including a statement of citizenship/immigration status, indicating the candidate’s education and training; work experience in the areas listed above; evidence of teaching effectiveness, such as evaluations; and a detailed and current curriculum vitae. 

To view the complete job description and to submit an application, please visit the UBC Careers page at http://facultycareers.ubc.ca/18821 by midnight on August 14, 2014.

Third funding cycle opens for Aboriginal Audio Digitization and Preservation Program. The deadline for applications is August 1, 2014.

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