Head of Research Services

Providence, RI
0 other recent jobs
Salary: $80-$82k
Created: September 3, 2021


The Head of Research Services is a service-driven professional who oversees the public operations of the John Hay Library, which is home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and University Archives. The Head of Research Services leads a researcher-focused operation that fosters positive, informative, affirming, and welcoming interactions for the global community of students, scholars, and the public that visit the Hay. The incumbent will be responsible for articulating a departmental vision that is rooted in racial justice and emphasizes actionable steps according to the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to ensure that all users of the John Hay Library have access to equal and consistent assistance for their library needs in a safe and affirming environment.


The Research Services Department includes 3 bargaining unit staff and student employees. Reporting to the Associate University Librarian for Special Collections, the Head of Research Services manages the Hay’s service desk and directs operations and staffing for the Gildor Family Reading Room.


The Head of Research Services is also responsible for administering all aspects of remote and in-person reference services and serves as the primary point of contact for inquiries about Hay collections and services, ranging from research requests to tour inquiries. The Research Services department has primary responsibility for guiding users in how to find, use, and evaluate relevant resources and explaining the techniques, policies, and procedures for primary source research. The Head of Research Services also administers and optimizes key software, including LibAnswers and Aeon, tracks and reports statistics, and participates in regular operational planning at the John Hay Library. With responsibility for developing a broad knowledge of the Library’s collections, the Head of Research Services also contributes actively to the Hay’s Acquisitions Committee. The Head of Research Services collaborates with the Head of Special Collections Instruction to support and promote the Hay's active teaching program, which may include teaching classes and workshops, leading tours, and collaborating with faculty and students on course-related activities. The Head of Research Services also collaborates with the Head of Exhibitions and Engagement to support and implement related initiatives around patron activities, collections and programs, include teaching classes and workshops, leading tours, and collaborating with faculty and students on course-related activities. The Head of Research Services also collaborates with the Head of Exhibitions and Engagement to support and implement related initiatives around patron activities, collections and programs.


Major Responsibilities:


Reference Services

  • Provides leadership, coordination, and oversight for the administration and delivery of effective, equitable, and responsive reference services and research assistance to all patrons in person and remotely.
  • Systematically and regularly evaluates reference services according to social justice benchmarks to create and foster an inclusive environment for researchers from diverse backgrounds.
  • Responds to researcher inquiries, including general questions, research questions, and queries about publication, creative, and scholarly use of collection material.
  • Builds in-depth knowledge of Hay collections and creates guides and other resources that enable the discovery and identification of relevant collection material.
  • Introduces a broad constituency of students, scholars, local community members, and the general public to the Hay’s collections and services and ensures excellent service, friendly reception, and positive research interactions.
  • Manages remote reference operations in LibAnswers, including assigning queries to appropriate staff and student assistants, ensuring reasonable turnaround times, and checking response accuracy and completeness. Provides general reference services for all areas of Special Collections (books, graphic media, archives and manuscripts).


Research Services Operations

  • Designs and administers public service and reference operations that deliver high-quality, user-centered services that are informed by critical information literacy.
  • Develops and documents procedures and maintains consistent reading room policies; regularly solicits feedback from students and faculty to inform policies and procedures.
  • Serves regular shifts on the reference desk and continually works to improve the research experience for patrons of all backgrounds, with an emphasis on creating a welcoming environment for historically marginalized groups.
  • Administers the Library’s Aeon system for registering patrons and tracking their requests for and use of collection material; ensures a high level of patron privacy.
  • Works with Research Services staff to ensure that collection material is onsite and ready for use when the requesting individual arrives in the Reading Room.
  • Creates and maintains training materials and manuals for desk staff and student assistants and provides adequate training for consistent, courteous, and efficient patron service. Regularly trains staff on new and existing policies and procedures.
  • Coordinates, maintains, and analyzes circulation, reference, and other use statistics; prepares regular reports on public service operations.
  • Works with Digital Services staff to coordinate access scanning requests and may complete or oversee small-scale scanning as part of a reference transaction.


Management & Leadership

  • Selects, supervises, and evaluates the work of staff and student assistants responsible for staffing the service desk and supporting the use of collection material in the Reading Room.
  • Manages a team of three full-time bargaining unit staff and student workers.
  • Collaborates with the Head of Special Collections Instruction to support and promote the growing teaching program at the John Hay Library.
  • Collaborates with the Head of Exhibitions and Engagement to support related initiatives, activities and programs.
  • Serves on leadership groups within the Hay as related to special collections operations, security, acquisitions, and other special projects.


Professional Development

  • Actively updates professional knowledge and skills, participates in professional and/or scholarly associations, and is aware of  current trends in higher education, libraries, and cultural heritage institutions.
  • Continually updates cultural knowledge and stays current with reparative justice issues and best practices.



  • ALA-accredited master’s degree in library or information science or an equivalent combination of education and experience.
  • 3 years of experience in an academic library, public library, school library or other cultural heritage setting, or educational institution in a teaching, administration, or research role.
  • Experience with public service, reference service, customer service, or other similar work.
  • Supervisory, project management, or other experience directing the work of others.
  • Successful experience working directly with diverse audiences.
  • Knowledge of current research trends and information literacy techniques. 


Job Competencies:

  • Strong customer-service orientation. 
  • Demonstrated ability to provide effective and efficient customer or research services. Knowledge of best practices in virtual and in-person customer service in a high-paced cultural heritage institution, educational institution, or similar environment. Familiarity with assessment of public services and related tools.
  • Demonstrated ability to bring inclusive and engaging approaches to customer service and/or teaching operations and programming onsite and virtually.
  • Excellent interpersonal and oral and written communication skills.
  • Excellent planning, decision making, problem-solving skills with superior verbal and written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively in a diverse, dynamic, team setting and to balance multiple competing priorities. 
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of the University.


About the John Hay LibraryThe John Hay Library is home to Brown University’s remarkable collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archival material. The Hay and its collections attract an international cohort of researchers, and as a Carnegie Library, the Hay is committed to investing in community and public engagement. To ensure that its collections are carefully stewarded for long-term access and use by any visitor, the John Hay Library Collection Policy outlines six strategic collecting directions and core guiding principles for collecting. John Hay Library MissionThe John Hay Library collects and preserves rare and unique materials that promote interdisciplinary research, teaching, and learning and inspire experimentation and creativity. Our collections support free and open inquiry, and we are committed to providing equitable access to our collections, exhibitions, and programming to a global community of students, scholars, and the public.


Please include a cover letter when applying for this position.

All offers of employment are contingent upon a Criminal and education background check satisfactory to Brown University.


In order to maintain 90% or greater universal vaccination rates on campus, all newly hired employees at Brown University must receive the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before they begin work, unless they are approved for a medical or religious exemption. For more information, please visit the Healthy Brown site.  

Last updated: Saturday, September 4, 2021 14:00 UTC