Conservator, Collections Care

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 27 Jun 2022


Grade 6: - £27,116 - £33,309
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 18 months from start
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 27-Jun-2022, 6:59:00 AM

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

The Department and role purpose

In January 1833 Bishop William van Mildert donated 160 volumes to found the University Library, located on Palace Green and in the same year Durham’s first university museum opened to the public. Today the University Library and Collections offers spaces, collections, expertise and services supporting education, research, the wider student experience and cultural and educational outreach. Collections and services operate across a wide estate of libraries, archives, museums, galleries and exhibition spaces, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Palace Green. Our nationally and internationally recognised collections span early books, archives and manuscripts, museum objects and art, print and electronic materials and include a repository of digitised materials, research outputs and research data. Our users encompass anyone engaging with our collections, services and facilities in person or remotely, this includes university staff, researchers from around the globe, students in higher education from Durham and other universities, school pupils and teachers, Durham’s local residents and tourists.

We are an ambitious and developing team with a focus on providing the best experience for our students, researchers and the wider community. We are valued partners working with students, professional services and academics across the University, and professionals and organisations regionally, nationally and internationally.

The University Library and Collections is made up of six sections: Collections; Customer Services; Education, Learning and Engagement; Research and Systems; Museums, Galleries and Exhibitions; and Finance and Administration. Staff work flexibly between the sections, enabled by seven cross-cutting groups, Collections, Education, Engagement, User Experience, Operations, Research, Staff Development and a Programme and Project Steering Group.

The Collections team, under the leadership of the Head of Collections, has broad responsibility for the acquisition, cataloguing, management, preservation and conservation of collections, including modern print and electronic collections, archives, and rare books. Their work also includes the administration of reading lists, inter-library loan, and the provision of search-room and enquiry services for archives and special collections. Their expertise and collections knowledge (alongside colleagues across the department, for example in our museums team) are used in support of learning, teaching, research and public engagement activities.

The conservation department is a centre of excellence in the region representing the highest professional standards in care of collections and remedial conservation..

The post holder will undertake a wide range of collections care activities across Durham University’s Museum, Archive and Library Special Collections. These collections are extremely diverse and include archaeological material, artworks, archives, printed books and manuscripts, and museum objects. The post holder will work across several sites within Durham which will include The Oriental Museum, Palace Green Library and Durham Castle alongside several other collection storage locations.

Specific aspects of this role include:

  • Designing and conducting collections care surveys
  • Assessing collections for preservation risks
  • Benchmarking against relevant national standards
  • Working with curatorial colleagues to improve the preservation status of collections
  • Implement improvements to storage arrangements including provision of specialist packaging
  • Environmental monitoring and assessment
  • Integrated Pest Management responsibilities

Core responsibilities

  • Experienced service practitioner, planning and co-ordinating of projects and work streams with inter-related activities.
  • Plan and organise own workload with or without involvement with project work streams.
  • Specialist support with problem solving and query handling.
  • Reactive and proactive service provision with others to deliver an excellent stakeholder experience.
  • Relationship building, network participation internally and externally to build and update knowledge and skills.
  • Engage with external peers and specialists to exchange knowledge and information.
  • Supervises service users and stakeholders undertaking activities, events, project work and exhibitions.
  • Interpret, curate, design and present artefacts, information, data, equipment and resources.
  • Implement and monitor protocols, procedures, processes and regulations.
  • Monitor and report incidents.
  • Carry out more in-depth investigations, searches and research information and data to identify trends and patterns.
  • Take responsibility for day to day decision making within own area of responsibility for operational aspects of service delivery, translating external requirements into practical application and advice.
  • Implement and monitor recognised procedures to ensure compliance and meet University values of inclusion, diversity and participation.
  • Contribute to business meetings, working groups and committees to help shape service delivery and stakeholder expectations.
  • Involved in the purchase and return of goods and services.
  • Support the capture of business requirements from users and work with colleagues to translate these into recommendations for future service provision.

Role responsibilities

  • Responsible for organising and maintaining technical facilities,.
  • Construct, test, repair and calibrate tools, resources, equipment, components and instrumentation.
  • Set-up,  and use specialist pieces of equipment.
  • Supervise volunteers or placement students where necessary.
  • Deliver projects that demonstrate a high-standard of accuracy, complexity, originality and excellence.
  • Provide support to team members to share technical knowledge and expertise and assist with training of special collections staff.
  • Liaise and network with specialist professionals to exchange knowledge and ideas internally and externally to the organisation.
  • Expert user with a range of machinery and equipment either physical, virtual or digital.
  • Take responsibility for carrying out more specialist risk assessments and incident resolution,
  • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Working Arrangements

At Durham we recognise that our staff and students are our greatest asset and we want to support the health and wellbeing of all. Hybrid working supports this ethos and provides many benefits to our colleagues, including empowering people, where their role allows, to work in a manner which is more suitable for them, whilst encouraging our commitment to environmental sustainability.

Depending on the needs of the business and the job role, Durham University is piloting hybrid working for all Professional Services colleagues in the academic year 2021/2022, which may include the opportunity to work both on and off campus and to flex working hours. If appointed to the post, your line-manager will discuss the specific arrangements with you.  Any hybrid arrangements are non-contractual and may change within the pilot and when the pilot ends.

Reward and Benefits

To support the delivery of the University's People Strategy to attract, retain and reward the very best, we offer a fantastic range of rewards and benefits  to our staff, including:

  • 27 days annual leave, plus 4 customary days and 8 bank holidays (pro-rata for part time) and the option to purchase additional leave;
  • Automatic enrolment into a pension scheme;
  • Corporate and local discounts;
  • Wellbeing resources and discounted health benefits;
  • Health discounts on sports and activities at Maiden Castle Health and Activity Centre;
  • Reward and Recognition Schemes;
  • Personal and career development;
  • And SO much more, with further information available here

Recruiting to this post

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification. In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at interview stage.

How to apply

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement  which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

Information if you have a disability

The University welcomes applications from disabled people. We are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

If you are unable to complete your application via our recruitment system, please get in touch with us on .

What you are required to submit 

  • A CV
  • A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out in the essential and desirable criteria
  • Completion of a Word document, with examples of how you satisfy the essential criteria within the person specification. Please ensure you give detailed examples of how you meet these criteria and bullet point your answers.
  • Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

    Contact details

    For further information regarding this post, please contact; Tony King, Senior Manager, Conservation and Collections Care:

    Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application

    If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email. Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to

    We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.

    At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

    As a University we foster a collegiate community of extraordinary people aligned to the University’s values . Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do. At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive, and in doing so, recruit the world’s best candidates from all backgrounds and identities. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

    Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

    Essential Criteria:

  • Good oral and written communication skills.
  • Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office.
  • Degree in a relevant subject
  • Professional qualification in conservation or collections care
  • Evidence of continuing professional development.
  • Knowledge and experience of collections care best practice
  • Experience of working across a wide range of collection types
  • Experience of conducting surveys or collection-wide preservation assessments
  • Ability to solve problems and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions.
  • Ability to set and achieve goals and to plan and prioritise workload
  • Desirable Criteria

  • Professional accreditation, or demonstrable intention to pursue accreditation
  • Experience of working in a team.
  • Demonstrable ability to provide advice and guidance to a range of colleagues, placement students, volunteers or other trainees.
  • Knowledge and experience of monitoring activities of self and others to ensure health and safety regulations are adhered to.
  • Durham University

    OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, in a unique and historic setting.

    OUR VALUES: We are inspiring, challenging, innovative, responsible and enabling.

    Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Business, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

    The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

    Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

    It is expected that all staff within the University:

    • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
    • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
    • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

    This post is aligned to the Technical, Research and Teaching Services Job Family

    Family key attributes

    Roles in this family provide creative and analytical input to facilitate the delivery of world-class teaching, learning and research activities.

    Overall family purpose

    • Support stakeholders to ensure the delivery of research, teaching and scholarly activities.
    • Align and tailor services to meet strategic and operational research, teaching and learning objectives.
    • Prepare and set-up equipment, apparatus and resources to ensure the successful delivery of scheduled academic activities.
    • Monitor, manage and maintain teaching, learning or research facilities, workshops, laboratories and experimental environments to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations.
    • Contribute guidance, advice and/or professional expertise to increase intellectual and creative capacity for world-class teaching and research outputs.
    • Actively participate with peers and specialists internally and externally to expand knowledge and practice.
    • Design and construct equipment, environments, tools, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning objectives.
    • Adapt and develop equipment, techniques and methodologies to meet research and learning outputs and timescales.
    • Engage and network with internal and external specialists and experts to facilitate knowledge exchange and enhance research, teaching and learning activities.
    • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.

    Link to key strategic plan

    • An economically sustainable approach to delivering technical and experimental support services across the University;
    • Support and facilitate world-leading research across all academic departments;
    • Support and facilitate research that has a positive impact on global, national and regional challenges and which benefits culture, society, health, the economy and the physical environment;
    • Support and facilitate a rewarding research environment and an exceptional research-led learning experience;
    • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
    • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
    • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

    DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions