Special Collections Librarian - School of the Art Institute of Chicago

For more than 150 years, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) has been a leader in educating the world’s most influential artists, designers and scholars. Located in downtown Chicago with a fine arts graduate program consistently ranking among the top four graduate fine arts programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, SAIC provides an interdisciplinary approach to art and design as well as world-class resources, including the Art Institute of Chicago museum, on-campus galleries and state-of-the-art facilities. SAIC’s undergraduate, graduate and post-baccalaureate students have the freedom to take risks and create the bold ideas that transform Chicago and the world—as seen through notable alumni and faculty such as Michelle Grabner, David Sedaris, Elizabeth Murray, Richard Hunt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Cynthia Rowley, Nick Cave, and LeRoy Neiman.

Position Summary

The Special Collections Librarian will provide direction and oversight for SAIC’s Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection and other Flaxman Library Special Collections, including, but not limited to, Randolph Street Gallery, Goat Island Archives, and other archival collections. Advises, coordinates, and collaborates with colleagues throughout the library, the campus, and the broader art community to optimize and promote teaching, learning, and research activities. Represents Flaxman Library in dealings with external art, library, and special collections communities. Assists with preservation and fund-raising efforts. Contributes to the development and management of library online systems appropriate to library special collections. Assists in securing relevant statistical data and reports. Monitors all expenditures related to Library Special Collections.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

Leadership + Public Service

  • Directs efforts in all areas of the Joan Flasch Artists’ Book Collection and other Flaxman Library Special Collections, including research, reference, instruction, access, and preservation.
  • Develops, directs, and assesses the work of the Flaxman Library Special Collections team. Responsible for the success of the workgroup in meeting library goals.
  • Provides all forms of research and reference services for students, faculty, and other special collections patrons, including but not limited to in-person and email reference assistance, and general public services in the Reading Room.

Outreach + Engagement

  • Represents the School and the Flaxman Library in presenting our resources to all types of visitors, on-site and online.
  • Works with colleagues throughout the campus and SAIC communities to develop, maintain, and promote our collections and programs.
  • Represents the Flaxman Library Special Collections in the external art, library, and special collections communities, maintaining strong working relationships with colleagues at other specialized resource centers within and outside of the Art Institute.

Teaching + Learning

  • Plays an essential role in advising, coordinating, and collaborating with colleagues throughout the library and the campus to optimize and promote the use of the artists’ books, archives, and special collections for teaching, learning, and research activities. Also engages the broader arts community to enrich opportunities for our students and faculty.
  • Works closely with other members of the special collections team and other library staff to design and develop instructional programs and services related to the artists’ book collection and archives.
  • Designs and produces a variety of instructional resources and collections lists.

Collection Management

  • Collaborates with Library Special Collections staff in all aspects of collections management and development.
  • Responsible for daily operations, including management of facilities and collections (both physical and digital) and interactions with students, faculty, staff, researchers, and other visitors to the collections.
  • Collaborates with other special collections staff responsible for organizing, processing, and management of physical collections in a wide variety of formats, including artists’ books, works of art, archives, and audio-visual media.

The Art Institute of Chicago is an equal opportunity, equal access employer fully committed to achieving a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Requirements Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in Library or Information Science or a related field (Art History, Fine Art) with substantial relevant experience;
  • Four or more years of professional experience in special collections, including at least one year of supervisory experience;
  • Deep and demonstrable knowledge of contemporary art practices, especially those based in book production and publishing;
  • Demonstrable knowledge of current issues and best practices for archives and special collections including conservation and preservation;
  • Knowledge of current library systems and technologies utilized in the assigned areas of responsibility;
  • Proficiency using standard office software, web services, and networked environments;
  • Ability to work effectively as a team leader, as well as a team member.
  • Commitment to the educational mission of the School and respect for all members of the campus community;


  • Significant and progressively responsible experience in a similar position at an academic library, especially at an independent, non-profit college of art and design;
  • Experience collaborating on digital library projects;
  • Degree(s) and/or work experience in an art or design-related field;
  • Understanding of object-based instructional methods and measures used by libraries and special collections;
  • Teaching, curating, and/or publishing experience.

Apply at https://www.artic.edu/careers