Description Project Assistant at University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI

Note: This position will be a full-time, three-year term appointment with the possibility of renewal.

The University of Michigan Library is one of the world’s largest academic research libraries and serves a vibrant University community that is home to 19 schools and colleges, 100 top ten graduate programs, and annual research expenditures approaching $1.5 billion a year. To enable the University’s world-changing work and to serve the public good, the library collects, preserves, and shares the scholarly and cultural record in all existing and emerging forms, and leads the reinvention of the academic research library in the digital age.

In keeping with the library’s mission to collect, describe, preserve, and make available the record of human knowledge, the Special Collections Research Center acquires, cares for, interprets, and promotes the use of important collections of unique, rare, primary source, and other material in all formats and in a variety of subject areas. Our holdings consist of approximately 300,000 volumes and more than 8,000 linear feet of archival and manuscript material.

The Special Collections Research Center is in the process of developing and implementing a programmatic approach to ensuring that its collections in all formats and across all collecting areas are appropriately accessioned, described, discoverable, and available for use. Baseline processing, collections assessment, and other projects are either planned or underway with the goal of physically stabilizing collections, making them serviceable (by staff) and usable (by researchers), and ensuring their discoverability. Reporting to the Collection Services Librarian, the Description Project Assistant will contribute directly to these efforts and work primarily with collections of archival and manuscript material.

The library is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce and encourages all employees to fully incorporate their diverse backgrounds, skills, and life experiences into their work.


  • Assemble and review existing information about collections; consult collection material as necessary; and create baseline descriptions in accordance with local and national standards and guidelines.
  • Ensure that containers are appropriately labeled; correct errors and discrepancies; update container and location information in ArchivesSpace and other systems.
  • Assist with the accessioning, arrangement, and description of collections of archival and manuscript material.
  • Identify materials in need of conservation and perform basic preservation and rehousing tasks as necessary.
  • Assist with collections assessment, the conversion of legacy finding aids, barcoding and shelf-reading, and other collection-related projects.
  • Assist with staffing the service desk in the Reading Room and with retrieving and re-shelving collection material, which may involve climbing ladders, reaching overhead, and/or moving boxes weighing up to 45 pounds.

Required Qualifications*

  • Bachelors degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • Excellent interpersonal, listening, and oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational, time, and project management skills.
  • Ability to work independently and with sustained attention to detail.
  • Sensitivity to and aptitude for handling rare and fragile materials.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively in a diverse, dynamic, team setting.
  • Good computer skills including familiarity with Microsoft Office and online information resources.
  • Understanding and value of diversity and the importance of inclusion as demonstrated through applying and incorporating the differences, complexities, and opportunities that diversity brings to an organization.

Desired Qualifications*

  • Experience working with special collections material, accessioning or processing archival collections, and/or using an archival collections management system.
  • Familiarity with tools, trends, issues, standards, and best practices in the description and management of archival and manuscript collections.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended. To apply, please visit the job posting.

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

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