Book and Paper Conservator

Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library, located on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, is seeking a skilled Book and Paper Conservator (Conservator) to join its collaborative Conservation and Preservation team. This individual, under the direction of the Head of Conservation and Preservation, is responsible for performing conservation treatments on bound and unbound library and archival materials in the collections held by the Folger.

As a key member of the Conservation and Preservation team, the Conservator works closely with colleagues, members of the Collection Care and Development group, and Curatorial staff to outline appropriate treatment approaches, establish timelines, and complete required documentation for all ongoing projects. The Conservator works to support the Folger’s scholarly initiatives through the evaluation and preparation of materials for digitization, exhibitions, loans, and consultation, as well as participation in care and handling training for Folger staff and researchers.

Successful candidates will have a master’s degree in Conservation, or at least 5 years of recent experience in book and paper conservation, including equivalent training. Candidates should have a thorough understanding of the history and structure of books, and specialized conservation practice, including hands-on experience in conservation treatments and preservation practices as applied to book, paper, and parchment in a library or archives environment.

Candidates should feel comfortable working on a small team in a small lab environment, and assisting with training and supervision of conservation technicians and interns as needed. This position will start in Fall of 2022. Due to a major renovation project, candidates should be prepared to work remotely, in-person, or a hybrid of both.


  • This is a monthly-paid salary position, with an annual rate of $60,000-$75,000.

  • Total compensation includes an extensive benefits plan, including fully-covered health, dental, and vision insurance, and a generous 403(b) match, outlined at

  • Demonstrates growing knowledge and continued development of highly refined manual skills and judgment concerning conservation treatment.  

  • Stays current with developments in the field of book and paper conservation. Engages in appropriate professional development, continuing education, professional service, and research activities.  

  • Performs highly complex conservation treatments on a wide range of library and archival materials, including early printed books, manuscripts, single-sheet items, and works on paper.  

  • Examines and analyzes library collection material and applies appropriate decision-making criteria for treatment.  

  • Evaluates the condition of collection items and designs treatment proposals based on the needs of the collection.  

  • Presents treatment proposals to Conservation and Curatorial teams for approval.   

  • Completes written and photographic documentation of the object’s condition during all treatment stages in accordance with the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice.  

  • Implements workflows and identifies treatment priorities in close consultation with conservation and curatorial teams.  

  • Shares responsibility for consulting on the suitability and handling of items for digital imaging. 

  • Participates with other members of the Collection Care and Development group in creating and executing communal goals and projects.   

  • Shares the responsibility for consulting on the preservation needs of new or pending acquisitions; advises on purchases of new acquisitions as needed. 

  • Participates in the administration and organization of the Conservation Lab. 

  • Engages in education and training of staff and researchers, including care and handling guidelines, and handling of materials for digital imaging.  

  • Assists in exhibition preparation and installation.   

  • Assists in the preparation of outgoing loans through condition documentation and packing pieces for travel. Serves as a courier. 

  • Works in conjunction with other departments to develop loan policies and procedures. May serve on the Folger Loan Committee.  

  • Participates in tours and demonstrates conservation practices and treatments for staff and visitors.  

  • Contributes to preventive preservation programs, such as environmental monitoring, pest management, collections security, and disaster response and recovery as needed.  

  • Engages the conservation community through public outreach.  

  • Additional conservator-related functions and duties as assigned.


Education and Experience:

  • Master’s degree in Conservation, or at least 5 years of recent experience in book and paper conservation, including equivalent training, is required.

  • Specialized conservation practice, with an emphasis on hands-on experience in conservation treatments and preservation practices as applied to book, paper, and parchment conservation in a library or archives environment, is required.

  • Must have experience working and collaborating in team environments.

  • Experience in exhibition preparation and installation is beneficial.

Skills and Knowledge:

  • A thorough understanding of the history and structure of books is required.

  • Must have a solid foundation in the historical and modern manufacturing processes for materials commonly found in libraries, including but not limited to leather, parchment, paper, and printing and writing media.

  • Must be able to work independently, outline projects, and meet deadlines consistently.

  • Sound knowledge of organic chemistry and material science is required.

  • Must understand and follow safe practices.

  • Must have demonstrated competency with advanced technical equipment related to conservation documentation, such as computer database applications, and the photographic equipment required for transmitted, UV, and IR imaging.

  • Strong oral and written communication skills, and the ability to work on a small team in a small lab environment, are required.

  • Knowledge of scientific research and analytical testing is beneficial.

How to Apply

Interested candidates should submit a cover letter and resume on our website (click the Apply button below). Incomplete applications cannot be accepted. No phone calls please. The Folger is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Pandemic response: All staff, contractors, and visitors working or visiting onsite are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and furnish proof of vaccination (unless they have a medical or religious exemption). Masks are required in all shared or public spaces until further notice.

Posted on April 28