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Research Services Librarian

Library and Collections | Washington, DC | Full Time

Job Description


The Research Services Librarian serves the public by providing access to the non-circulating collections of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., by staffing library orientations and research programs, and by responding to in-person, phone, email, chat, and letter queries. S/he reports to the Deputy Director.


The Research Services Librarian provides reference services in the Kiplinger Research Library as well as through remote library services. In collaboration with the Deputy Director, s/he develops and implements special collections library procedures that support the preservation of and access to historic collections in all formats, with an emphasis on increasing remote reference options. The Research Services Librarian manages day-to-day activities in the Kiplinger Research Library, working with volunteers and interns to provide access to collections representing local life in the nation’s capital.


The Research Services Librarian will be a detail-oriented and organized information professional who is enthusiastic about working with novice and skilled researchers alike. S/he will have a passion for sharing the culture, history, and diversity of the city with patrons of all backgrounds and interests.

The successful candidate will be highly self-directed and accustomed to taking initiative, and will apply exceptional organizational and communication skills to the daily operations of the Kiplinger Research Library. S/he will be an effective collaborator with all levels of staff, volunteers, donors, members, patrons, and the general public. S/he will enjoy learning as well as teaching, and will demonstrate tact, poise and a positive attitude in a busy setting, meeting the high expectations of patrons and staff. Creativity, flexibility, and patience will be key attributes as the organization seeks to develop more robust remote reference services, joining with the larger special collections community in adapting to the current pandemic environment.


The Research Services Librarian:

  • Welcomes, registers, and assists library patrons according to outlined procedures.
  • Answers researcher queries and reference questions in person, and increasingly via phone, email, and mail, using professional techniques for analyzing questions and searching resources within the library, including all Special Collections formats and electronic resources.
  • Monitors the behavior and conduct of library patrons and ensures that library procedures are followed, especially in regard to the security and preservation of library and archival materials.
  • Instructs patrons in the use of all manner of library resources.
  • Pulls and re-shelves requested photographs, books, manuscripts, maps, vertical files and other collections materials; fulfills copy orders.
  • Responsible for day-to-day management of reference volunteers and interns, overseeing reference services work and long-term projects.
  • Manages orders for image reproduction; conducts permissions research for publication requests; and manages paperwork and data entry for library services transactions.
  • Develops content for, and conducts, library orientations and related programs for various audiences.
  • Manages paperwork and data entry for library services transactions.
  • Collects user information and statistics, and identifies ways to improve the research experience for library patrons.
  • Works with staff and interns to advance the organization’s social media presence according to established guidelines to regularly promote the library and collections.
  • Helps preserve collections by handling materials according to preservation guidelines.
  • Opens and closes the Kiplinger Research Library on researcher days, prepares the Library for other events and programs.
  • Carries out other tasks as assigned to contribute to the success of the organization.


  • Masters in Library Science from a graduate library school accredited by the American Library Association strongly preferred; or related graduate degree with experience in special collections libraries and archival theory and practice.
  • Strong verbal and written communications skills required.
  • Comfort with public speaking and instruction required.
  • Comfort with in-person and remote reference required.
  • Demonstrated ability to be self-directed yet with a collaborative style required.
  • Excellent reference skills and ability to relate to patrons of all ages required.
  • Ability to climb ladders, bend and stoop to access and move collection enclosures and lift archival boxes weighing up to 40 lbs.
  • Skill in all typical computer applications and equipment (MS Office) required; understanding of new and emerging technologies expected.
  • Demonstrated willingness to train and supervise volunteers required.
  • Strong organizational talents required.
  • Demonstrated experience with local history collections, and with D.C. history specifically desired.


The Research Services Librarian currently works Monday-Friday, generally 9-5, with flexibility for weekend and evening hours as required for programming and other operations of the DC History Center. In response to the pandemic, the position is currently a hybrid of on-site and remote work.


Starting salary $52,000 - $60,000 based on experience. Benefits include medical, 403(b), and Metro SmartBenefits. Central downtown location easily accessible by all Metro lines.


Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume, including salary history or requirement. No phone calls or walk-ins please. If you have applied for this position since February 2020, there is no need to resubmit your application.

The DC History Center is an equal opportunity employer.