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Museum Archivist opening


The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, Berkeley, is seeking a dynamic professional for the position of Museum Archivist for our newly funded project: "Cataloging Hidden Archives of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology: Increasing Integration and Accessibility for Interdisciplinary Research." This is a temporary 75-100% appointment starting August 1, 2012 for three years.


The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) is a national leader among natural history museums, housing one of the top six vertebrate collections in the US. Our collections of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are used primarily in studies of conservation, ecology, and evolution. MVZ also houses an extensive archival collection of fieldnotes, correspondence, photos, maps, etc., including extensive notes from our biological field station, the Hastings Natural History Reservation in Carmel Valley, CA. The MVZ recently received funding from the Council on Library Information and Resources (CLIR) to enhance the cataloging and integration of our archives with its online collection and archival databases.

The three-year project to process the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology (MVZ) archives will provide access to evidence of the historical, ecological, legal, and sociological context for the vertebrate specimens that comprise the Museum's collections. The archives document the expeditions, research, and views of prominent western pioneers, evolutionary biologists, and conservationists (e.g., Annie Alexander, Charles L. Camp, Joseph S. Dixon, Joseph Grinnell, Alden Miller, Robert Stebbins, and many others) from the late 19th century to present. Joseph S. Dixon, for example, was a well known conservationist who organized the first wildlife surveys in U.S. national parks, and led the Park Service to protect endangered species and fragile habitat. The archives also include detailed field notes and annotated maps from over three hundred scientists and students, thousands of pages of correspondence, original artwork used in seminal publications, and photographic documentation of field sites, specimens, and animal observations in various formats (prints, negatives, 35mm slides, lantern slides, glass photo plates, digital). These archives will be useful to scientists, historians, teachers, government agencies, and public policymakers. They provide the foundation for efforts to resurvey vertebrates throughout North and Central America to document and understand change either directly or indirectly through human activity and climate.


The Museum Archivist is a key component of the MVZ Archives and will supply expertise which currently does not exist in the MVZ. The integration and curation of the Archives is essential for it provides the historic and field context for its specimen collection and database, and thus is a fundamental component of MVZ’s uniquely valuable collection. It is the primary resource for data quality validation critical to our research mission and ongoing maintenance of our collection database. The Archives and its integration with the specimen collection will affect research worldwide as both the academic and public access to our collections has steadily grown with increased access. A properly curated archive is essential for the leadership role MVZ has in the academic community and key to the ongoing success of its research mission.

The Museum Archivist will work with the PIs and the Project Coordinator in a variety of grant activities primarily using their expertise in the archival domain to help assess cataloging protocols, metadata values and best practices in physically securing documents, long-term storage and retrieval, etc. The position will help recruit, train and supervise archival interns from San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science program. We also expect this position to act as a liaison to the UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, Online Archive of California, other Berkeley Natural History Museums (especially the UCMP and the UC and Jepson Herbaria), the San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science, and other digital archival projects (e.g., Biodiversity Heritage Library, California Academy of Sciences, U.S. National Museum).

Key responsibilities for the Archivist include:

  • General archival management, including consulting with PIs and assessing archival value of the bound field notebook library and the uncataloged images, correspondence, and other ancillary material
  • Establish protocols for metadata capture per Dublin Core standards, and for physical rehousing of archival materials with the Project Coordinator
  • Serve as liaison to UC and external Archival resources, departments, and programs
  • Recruit, oversee, and train Archival Interns from San Jose State University, in collaboration with the Bancroft Library, including the development of finding aids.
  • Assisting with external archival requests and inquiries.

This position falls under the academic Librarian series. UC Berkeley librarians are expected to participate in library-wide planning and governance, to work effectively in a shared decision-making environment and to be active professionally. Professional librarians at UC are academic appointees and are represented by an exclusive bargaining agent, University Council-American Federation of Teachers (UC-AFT).

Qualifications Required

ALA-accredited MLIS, or relevant Master's degree with coursework in archives management, or a minimum of two years successful experience with archival collections. Experience with digital projects and on-line description and cataloging including an understanding of current trends and techniques. Understanding of and commitment to nationally-accepted standards and tools for archival processing and description. Experience encoding finding aids using EAD as well as familiarity with metadata concepts and standards. Well-developed computer and on-line searching skills. A strong commitment to user-centered processing and description, and demonstrated ability to work independently as well as collaboratively in a complex, changing environment. Ability to successfully train and oversee the work of archival interns. Must have excellent analytical, interpersonal and communication skills, initiative, and flexibility. Ability to work effectively in a team-based organization within a culturally diverse academic community.


Candidates with combinations of the following additional qualifications will be given preference: Experience developing digital library resources based on archival materials, including digitization of original materials and preparation of appropriate metadata, especially from natural history collections. Experience working with archival collections in non-textual formats such as photographs, slides and drawings. Familiarity with DarwinCore metadata standards. Experience with website technology, knowledge of relational database concepts, and demonstrated experience in development and documentation of standards and procedures. Knowledge of vertebrate natural history, ecology, and biodiversity research are useful.


Applications must include a cover letter, CV, and three professional references. The cover letter should address interest in and vision for the intersection of library information sciences and natural history museums. Applicants should refer references to the UC Berkeley Statement of Confidentiality found here ( Applications must be sent to the attention of Sandra Richmond, Research Enterprise Services-HR, 3101A VLSB, Berkeley, CA 94720-3160. Electronic submissions are acceptable, but all materials must be uploaded into Adobe PDF and sent to, with the subject: MVZ ARCHIVES – [Applicant Name]. Deadline for applications is June 18, 2012. Review of applications will begin immediately.

For more information about the CLIR project; also the MVZ Archives, see here, and our History.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and encourages qualified women and minority candidates to apply.
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