Director, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries | The Art institute of Chicago

Posted on May 19, 2023

Position Summary

Reporting to the Executive Director of the Research Center, the Director of the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries oversees operations and shapes strategy for library collections, resources and services. The Director leads departmental efforts around acquisition, organization, documentation, storage, and accessibility of library collections, establishing goals with attention to resource management and sustainability. The Director supervises two Associate Library Directors, in Technical and Access Services respectively, and an overall team of fifteen. They liaise with colleagues across the museum’s eleven curatorial departments to build relationships and set protocols where it concerns collection development, curatorial research aims, and the library’s role in exhibitions and publications. The Library Director partners with other key positions in the Research Center to contribute to the collective management of the Franke Reading Room, the Center’s digital infrastructure, and the training of emerging professionals in the museum and among the museum’s university constituents. With the mission of research excellence through an equity lens, the Director attends to patterns of historical inequity in the composition, description or accessibility of library resources and brings departmental work in-line with the museum’s greater strategic efforts.

  • Administration and Management: With the Executive Director and the Director of the Archives, contributes to short- and long-term strategic planning for the Research Center, shaping cohesive goals and priorities where it concerns operations, audiences, accessibility, hiring, spatial evolutions, programming, acquisitions, exhibitions, and special initiatives. Plans and monitors budgets and restricted use funds. With staff, monitors fundamental on-site operations and physical spaces as needed. Oversees and prepares manuals and interpretive memoranda for procedures; collects statistics for reports and planning. Keeps contracts accurate and up-to-date. Manages hiring, supervision, training and evaluation for direct reports and collaborates with the associate library directors to support these processes on their teams. Mentors staff, contributes to training of new team members, interns and fellows.
  • Collection oversight: Establishes goals and priorities for the Libraries’ acquisition program, working with vendors to set parameters for approval plans. Ensures proper storage, care and circulation policies to maintain the stability and security of the collection. Makes recommendations for conservation and preservation projects in consultation with museum conservation staff. Guides staff in the management of the offsite project, interlibrary loan, and other collection-adjacent responsibilities. Contributes to the design of balanced, sustainable workflows and service plans to make collections accessible to internal and external users.

  • Research and Reference: Liaise with curatorial departments to guide and assist with research endeavors and shape strategic practices that evolve the museum’s research program. Collaborate with curators to make purchasing decisions that enrich the Libraries’ resources in specific areas. Contribute to reference services, provide orientation and instruction sessions for new users as needed. Assist curators seeking Library collection works for exhibition and the Publications Department with research and photography requests for exhibition publications. With Collections and Loans, assist in coordinating loans of objects to outside institutions when needed.

  • Communications and Outreach: Represents the Libraries in membership organizations and the professional community including national library consortia and interlibrary collaborations. Maintains an active professional network to bring new ideas to the Research Center. Develops content for newsletters, web text, social media, and other communication vehicles that disseminate museum resources and programs. Provides vision to guide upgrades and new features in discovery tools and resources such as Alma/Primo, research guides, etc. Contributes to management of Research Center initiatives and events that engage a broader academic community.

  • Stewardship: With the Executive Director, design and manage transformative grant or gift initiatives, collaborations and partnerships that serve the mission and goals of the Research Center and the Libraries. Cultivates relationships with Art Institute curators, external supporters, vendors/dealers and potential donors. Manages administrative and donor records.


  • Graduate degree in Library and Information Science or related field from ALA accredited institution required. Must demonstrate proficiency in library procedures and principles.
  • 7+ years of professional experience in a library setting, with demonstrated increasing responsibility, is required.
  • Strong project management skills with the ability to manage several projects at different stages simultaneously, respond to shifting priorities, and support multiple stakeholders.
  • Proficiency with technical systems, including bibliographic tools and research methods; cataloging rules and standards; issues related to electronic resources and ILL processes.
  • Aptitude for proactive, self-directed and collaborative work; ability to work flexibly as part of a team, motivate others and work across organizational boundaries highly desired.
  • Superior organizational skills, including record keeping, budget tracking, and predictive management of timelines, finances, and administrative tasks, are essential. Experience with budget development and grant management is preferred.
  • Demonstrated ability to adapt to the changing needs of a dynamic, high-volume work environment and willingness to take initiative with excellent judgment, care and discretion.
  • Energy and enthusiasm for the mission of the museum and demonstrated commitment to advancing the museum’s values.
  • The ideal candidate should have a passion for the future of art research, a curiosity for evolving research tools and methods, and a dedication to equity-informed pedagogy and practices.


  • Capacity with physical labor minimally required, handling or moving collection materials comprises about 25% of the position.
  • Periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer; must be able to remain in a stationary position 50% of the time.
  • Often moves about inside the office, stacks and across various museum spaces to serve patrons, access storage areas, move collections, and other related tasks.
  • Often operates a computer and other office machinery, such as a copy machine and printer.
  • Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision, ability to adjust focus, and the ability to sustain prolonged visual concentration.


Maximum $94,000 annually


The Art institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60603
United States

How to apply

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