Photography Curator, Department of Special Collections

 To Apply:
Enter Position Title in the Search Field “Photography Curator’ or enter in the Requisition Number “88299”

Posted at Librarian 2 and Librarian 3 level

Stanford Libraries is looking for a full time Photography Curator to join our Special Collections team. The Libraries values are rooted in a commitment of mutual respect and the idea that every member of the staff has something to contribute, and that learning is constant. We seek a team member who is ready to share their skills and perspectives and collaborate with colleagues across the organization.

About Stanford Libraries:

Stanford Libraries is a network of over 15 libraries with over 400 employees. We are committed to fueling the teaching, learning and research across Stanford by acquiring, stewarding and making available a robust collection, currently in excess of 12 million items. Everyone in the organization plays a vital role in fulfilling that objective. Our dedication to discoverability and information management also has us engaged in dynamic global partnerships. We are constantly building and strengthening our organization, and we recognize striving for excellence is a marathon and not a sprint. We are constantly trying to strike the right pace, and admit there are times when we find ourselves at a fast jog. While we hope to always find candidates who fit within our organization, what we truly seek is someone who will add to our culture, our profession as well as the greater academic arena. We are invested in the success of our teams and the individuals who represent Stanford Libraries.  

Why Stanford is for You:

Contemplate the challenges our planet faces today and the sustainability solutions we will develop in the coming years. Imagine a world without search engines or social platforms. Consider lives saved through first-ever organ transplants and research to cure illnesses. Stanford University has revolutionized the way we live and enrich the world. Supporting this mission is our diverse and dedicated 17,000 staff. We seek talent driven to impact the future of our legacy. Our culture and unique perks empower you with:

  • Freedom to grow. We offer career development programs, tuition reimbursement, and course auditing. Join a TedTalk, watch a film screening, or listen to a renowned author or global leader speak.
  • A caring culture. We provide superb retirement plans, generous time-off, and family care resources.
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The Department of Special Collections at Stanford University seeks an experienced, creative and effective curator for its growing and increasingly important program developing a significant collection of photographs in support of research and teaching. Stanford Special Collections is reshaping and defining its photography collection development initiative to build on significant holdings of historical and contemporary photography that support Stanford’s academic programs. These collections for the study and appreciation of modern photography in the Americas benefits not just the academic program, but also an international audience through the Libraries active acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, and loan programs. The collections include thousands of prints by hundreds of artists, as well many photographic archive objects (negatives, contact sheets, manuscripts, and related ephemera), other documentation, and photographer’s archives), oral histories and other media materials, and a library of rare books, journals, photo-based artists’ books, and exhibition catalogs (in conjunction with the Stanford Art and Architecture Library). The photography curator will work closely and collaboratively with other Stanford curators and bibliographers.

The incumbent will be responsible for expert curatorial/bibliographic functions, collection development and management, public service, related technical processing, and donor relations (in coordination with the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and the Libraries Development Office).

Core Duties:

Under the direction of the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections will:

  • Be accountable for managing and performing advanced curatorial and bibliographic functions including appraisal, teaching, and exhibitions (w/publications).
  • Carry out analytical work for significant aspects of the department’s photography operations including some registrar work.
  • Formulate, develop, and administer broad library policies or major programs and collections.
  • In consultation with the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and other interested parties, initiate contact and discussions with potential donors and oversee acquisition process.
  • Serve as liaison to University faculty and academic programs with photography interests.
  • Work actively with primary clientele to explore and propose collaborative projects, options for new library services, and options for better integration between Stanford University Libraries and academic units.
  • Plan, initiate, negotiate, and support acquisitions of significant archives, collections, and individual works of art, through gift and purchase; acquisitions often involve negotiating complex legal agreements with artists, their heirs, or representatives and/or negotiating for purchases that may extend over many years.
  • Internal to the Stanford Library organization, collaborate and negotiate acquisitions with other interested curators.
  • Continually evaluate the strategic vision, policy, and priorities for collections work in the photographic collections.
  • Negotiates and drafts proposals for acquisitions as well as purchase agreements for review and authorization by the AUL for Special Collections and the University.
  • Monitors status of intended gifts on short and long-term loan to the Libraries to assist donors in setting realistic dates for transfer of ownership title. Maintains under the tutelage of the AUL for Special Collections and the Executive Director of Communications & Development a stewardship program of regular contact with photography program donors.
  • Administers the program’s collections budget, including proposing budgetary needs and staffing requirements.
  • Curates occasional exhibitions of photographic materials, including laying out of the exhibition for the preparators to install in the Green Library gallery. Writes wall text, label copy, and text for brochures, press releases, and other promotional materials.
  • With other Libraries staff, creates a presence for the photography program online to highlight the collections, initiatives, programs, services, and activities of the Libraries. Becomes proficient using the SUL Spotlight exhibit program.
  • Interprets the collections for diverse audiences through public lectures, gallery tours, and related programs.
  • Researches and writes on topics for exhibitions and publications based on the Libraries collections.
  • Communicates with other museums, artists, heirs, and collectors to obtain artwork and archival material on loan to Stanford for exhibitions.
  • Reports to the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, is a member of the Department’s Division Heads Group, and collaborates with senior staff colleagues in advising the Director about all aspects of the programs priorities, policies, and operations in support of the Libraries mission, and in creating and prioritizing the Department’s annual strategic goals and budget.
  • Coordinating with the Department of Special Collections processing unit, plays a role in setting priorities for processing, digitization, preservation, and conservation workflows, and in creating and maintaining accurate documentation about collection materials in the Department’s collection management system. Responsible for assisting with metadata creation and processing of photography collections as needed.
  • Reviews all requests from other institutions to borrow works from the photography collections for exhibitions, such proposed loans to be authorized by the AUL for Special Collections.
  • As assigned by the AUL for Special Collections, hires, trains, supervises, and mentors staff and student employees.
  • Works closely and reports often with the AUL for Special Collections and the Executive Director of Communications and Development in cultivating support for the program through individual donor relations and fundraising activities in meetings and private events at Stanford and elsewhere, and behind-the-scenes tours of the Library & Department program.
  • Maintains extensive contacts with a large and diverse community of artists, scholars, curators, collectors, dealers, and organizations that comprises the photography community to actively promote the relevance and significance of the Libraries collections and exhibitions.
  • Represents the Libraries at gatherings, meetings, and conferences.
  • Other duties may also be assigned.

Minimum Requirements:

Master of Library Science degree and/or graduate degree in art history or related field with specialization in the history of North American photography with a firm grounding in a broader knowledge of the medium, and three to five years of experience in a relevant library or research setting, demonstrating a high level of expertise and active engagement in their area of specialization at a national level or a combination of education and relevant experience is required. At least three to five years of experience acquiring significant collections, archives, works of art is required. Demonstrated success in negotiating complex acquisition agreements and purchases is highly desirable.

  • Extensive knowledge of the photographic medium, including materials, methods and techniques through hands-on study and interpretation of original materials.
  • Knowledge of the various approaches to metadata creation and use in discovery and collection audits of large photographic collections.
  • Commitment to and success in supporting academic programs of research, teaching, and public exhibitions involving photographs.
  • Experience and success in donor relations and in working with development officers.
  • Experience preferred in curating exhibitions of photographs and photographic materials.
  • Record of publications and/or academic coursework that demonstrates significant knowledge of the history of photography, photograph collections, the history of collecting photographs, and the current state of scholarly communications about photography and the history of photography.
  • Excellent written & verbal communication skills. Excellent professional demeanor. Demonstrated ability to work and communicate with diverse people, collaboratively, proactively and constructively. Ability to work as a member of a team.
  • Willingness to conduct Stanford Libraries business through some travel.
  • Demonstrated competence in digital tools and applications as well as capacity to learn new ones and contribute to the development of new or existing ones.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Demonstrated ability to prioritize, meet deadlines, and problem solve.
  • Experience managing multiple simultaneous projects.
  • Knowledge of preservation and conservation issues pertaining to photographic collections
  • Broad knowledge of library and museum practices, issues, and standards.
  • Experience in hiring, training, supervising and mentoring staff

For consideration at the Librarian 3 level:

An incumbent is expected for formulate policies and propose plans for programs or operations of a library unit and will be assigned responsibility for an advanced bibliographic function, managing a library unit or program, and planning and executing the integration of library programs and personnel. There will also be the expectation of evidence of professional contributions and achievement beyond the library. Evidence of expert specialized knowledge and expert managerial/supervisory skills are expected.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Recognition of professional accomplishment is expected at this rank.
  • Ability to articulate the role of the Library within the University and with other cultural heritage organizations. Ability to act as liaison between the Library and University and external partners.
  • Ability to apply expert knowledge and substantial experience to selecting, acquiring, preserving, and/or providing access to scholarly resources.
  • Exercise a high level of initiative, sound judgment and leadership.
  • Evidence of specialized knowledge and managerial/supervisory skills is expected.
  • Experience with identifying, evaluating, recommending, and implementing new service programs, technology, and complex workflows.
  • Demonstrated success in working across organizational lines to develop initiative proposals of some complexity; formulate plans for implementation, working to win support and funding, and moving their ideas to implementation.
  • Demonstrated expertise in independently performing complex job functions such as collection management reviews and preparation of major exhibits.
  • Evidence of leadership in relevant professional or academic communities and/or national or international recognition of their expertise.
  • Consistent display of excellent verbal and written communication skills, including strong presentation skills.
  • Knowledge of various approaches to physically processing, caring, and long-term preservation of photographic materials.

Physical Requirements:

  • Constantly sit, perform desk-based computer tasks.
  • Frequently twist/bend/stoop/squat, grasps lightly/fine manipulation, grasp forcefully, sort/file paperwork or parts, lift/carry/push/pull objects that weigh up to 25 pounds.
  • Occasionally stand/walk, reach/work above shoulders, writing by hand, kneel/crawl, climb (ladders, scaffolds, or other).
  • Consistent with its obligations under the law, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to any employee with a disability who requires accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job.

Working Conditions:

  • May work in confined spaces and at heights 4-10 feet; be exposed to dust and mold; work extended hours, evenings, and weekends.

Work Standards:

  • Interpersonal Skills: Demonstrates the ability to work well with Stanford colleagues and clients and with external organizations.
  • Promote Culture of Safety: Demonstrates commitment to personal responsibility and value for safety; communicates safety concerns; uses and promotes safe behaviors based on training and lessons learned.
  • Subject to and expected to comply with all applicable University policies and procedures, including but not limited to the personnel policies and other policies found in the University’s Administrative Guide,

The job duties listed are typical examples of work performed by positions in this job classification and are not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, tasks, and responsibilities. Specific duties and responsibilities may vary depending on department or program needs without changing the general nature and scope of the job or level of responsibility. Employees may also perform other duties as assigned.

Stanford is an equal employment opportunity and affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law. Stanford welcomes applications from all who would bring additional dimensions to the University’s research, teaching and clinical missions.