Curator of the Southern Historical Collection


Position:         Curator of the Southern Historical Collection

 Available:        May 1, 2021

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries seeks a knowledgeable, collaborative, creative, collegial, and service-oriented individual for the position of Curator of the Southern Historical Collection (SHC) in the Wilson Special Collections Library. Reporting to the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and supervising 3 full-time staff members, the Curator will oversee operations of the Southern Historical Collection, providing vision and leadership to ensure its continued preeminence as the leading repository of unique materials reflecting the histories and cultures of the American South. The Curator engages with Special Collections and University Libraries colleagues, UNC faculty and students, donors and vendors, and with trends and directions in Southern studies to ensure the development, management, and ongoing relevance of the SHC’s holdings and programs to their teaching, learning, and research.

As charged by the “The University Libraries’ Role in Reckoning with Systemic Racism and Oppression” the Wilson Special Collections Library team is undertaking initiatives to interrogate and repair the legacy systems that perpetuate oppressive structures and to create new systems that advance racial and social equity and justice in our spaces, collections, programs, and services. The ideal candidate for this position will demonstrate commitment to this work in their professional practice.

The Curator works collaboratively with the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and other Special Collections curators to develop and refine a shared agenda for accessioning, processing, and accessing archival materials. The Curator directs an active collection development, management, and stewardship program that supports existing and emerging areas of strength and is informed by the curricular and research objectives related to Southern studies at UNC and in broader scholarly and public communities. The Curator cultivates and stewards relationships with potential and current collection donors, with an emphasis on creating a more inclusive historical record and connecting with communities underrepresented in the collections.

The Curator supervises the work of three full-time SHC staff (two archivists and one administrative assistant) and manages and monitors departmental budgets and the expenditure of funds assigned to the SHC for acquisitions, staff, and associated programs. Working closely with the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and Library Development, the Curator actively pursues grant, private, and other funding opportunities and oversees grant-funded projects and staff as awarded or assigned.

Through exhibitions, public programs, and other outreach methods, the Curator ensures visibility and awareness of the SHC’s resources and programs on campus and in larger scholarly networks. The Curator develops and supports Special Collections engagements with community-based partners. Working with Library Communications, responds to media requests related to the SHC as needed.

By serving on the Wilson Library management team and on assigned task teams and working groups, the Curator participates in the analysis, planning, and implementation of policies and procedures for the Special Collections. The Curator also participates in Special Collections, Libraries, and University committees and groups as appropriate.

The Curator is expected to be active in and contribute to professional activities relating to librarianship, archives, and the study of the American South and to support the activities of the department’s staff in professional organizations and working groups concerned with special collections issues. The Curator will demonstrate commitment to and growth in professional practice and subject area engagement.

Founded in 1930, the Southern Historical Collection is the most used of the five collections that make up the special collections at Wilson Library. The SHC alone is responsible for almost 5,000 manuscript collections and represents just over half of the materials used by researchers.

Within Wilson Library, the SHC’s dedicated staff works in collaboration with the curators of the four other collections (the North Carolina Collection, the Rare Book Collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, and University Archives and Records Management); a technical services team, which encompasses archival processing and bibliographic cataloging; a research and instructional services team; preservation and conservation staff, including an in-house conservation lab; and a special collections exhibitions coordinator and special collections engagement librarian.

Wilson Library staff also work closely with the University Libraries’ Repository Services department, which includes the Digital Production Center and which manages our various digital content repositories. Thanks to mass digitization workflows, more than two million pages of SHC content are currently available online.

Wilson Library offers a variety of research fellowships, most of which support areas that speak to the strengths of the SHC. They include a grant-funded pilot for doctoral fellowships in southern studies. The fellowships are administered by the Special Collections Research and Instructional Services department.

Over the past four years, the SHC has led the University Libraries’ work around community-driven archives to explore new or redefined opportunities for collaborating with underrepresented and otherwise marginalized communities. The Curator will work closely with the Associate University Librarian and with the African American Collections and Outreach Archivist, who has led efforts to define a scaled and strategic pathway forward for this work that is collaborative with other Libraries unites.

As the curatorial home for hundreds of antebellum collections and others that represent a white, patriarchal norm, the SHC is critical to Wilson Library’s work to repair and remediate archival description. This work is led by the Technical Services team and requires the full engagement of SHC’s curatorial team.


 Required:  ALA-accredited master’s degree in library or information science or equivalent relevant degree. Minimum of three years’ professional work experience in an academic research library, archival repository, museum, or public history setting. Experience supervising volunteers, students, interns, or staff. Demonstrated leadership and management skills. Knowledge of current trends and best practices in special collections and archives. Commitment to creating a more inclusive historical record and to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. 

Preferred:  Advanced degree in a humanities or social sciences discipline, preferably US history, American Studies, or related discipline. Demonstrated knowledge of and interest in the histories and cultures of the American South. Experience in collection development and management. Experience with donor relations and grant administration. Outreach experience, including but not limited to exhibitions and public programs and establishing and maintaining relationships with user communities. 

The University and The Libraries

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the country’s oldest state university. UNC Chapel Hill has an enrollment of approximately 29,000 students, employs more than 3,500 members of the faculty, and offers 69 doctoral degrees as well as professional degrees in dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and law. Library collections include over 6.5 million volumes.

The Library is a member of the Association of Research Libraries and the Center for Research Libraries. Together with the libraries at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University, the members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) provide services and collections to their students, faculty, and staff in support of the education, research, and service missions of the universities.

The University Library invests proudly in its employees, strives to create a diverse environment of respect and collaboration, and encourages vision and innovation. 

The Region

The Triangle region is one of the most desirable places to live and work in North America and offers its residents a wide array of recreational, cultural, and intellectual activities. The mountains and the seashore are less than half day’s drive from Chapel Hill.

The University of North Carolina is an equal opportunity employer and is strongly committed to the diversity of our faculty and staff. 

Salary and Benefits 

This is a twelve-month academic librarian appointment.   The salary range for this Librarian position begins at $69,900.  The University Libraries intends to hire at a minimum of $85,000, with salary commensurate with experience and qualifications.

Standard state benefits of annual leave, sick leave, and State or optional retirement plan. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, librarians enjoy the benefit of academic status and are members of the faculty council. 

To Apply

Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and will be accepted until the position is filled, but preference will be given to applications received by May 31.

Please visit and complete the online application. Please include a letter of application, a resume and the name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number of three professional references, one of which must be a current supervisor.  Additionally, please indicate in your cover letter where you first learned of this position.