Conservation Specialist

Updated: 3 months ago
Location: Chicago, ILLINOIS
Job Type: FullTime


Library C & A - Preservation - Conservation

About the Department

​As a center of intense intellectual inquiry, the University of Chicago Library aspires to be the most dynamic research and learning environment in the world, supporting the University’s commitment to research and teaching and to using its intellectual resources to help solve the world’s problems. Even as we continue to focus on building and preserving our renowned collections, the Library is assuming new roles that are vital to research, innovation, and learning at the University. In the process, we are leveraging the deep expertise of Library staff, developing services that support new avenues of research, and expanding access to and preservation of scholarly resources in ways that advance the goals of the University community and the needs of the next generation of scholars.

Job Information

Job Summary:

Under the direction of the Head of Conservation, the Conservation Specialist carries out a range of simple to complex physical treatments and repairs on the Library’s general collections materials. The Conservation Specialist carries out treatments requiring a high degree of skill and/or judgment. The Conservation Specialist assists with management of the workflow of materials in the Conservation Section and works closely with the Head of Conservation and other Preservation Supervisors who review materials for preservation attention.


Performs conservation treatments and repairs:          

  • Performs a range of simple to complex conservation treatments and repairs on materials in the circulating collections. Tasks include mending torn paper, encapsulation; tape removal; humidification and flattening; rebacking and recasing of bound materials; and the construction of custom-fitted protective enclosures.

  • Applies treatments techniques in accordance with established standards and guidelines for conservation ethics and practice for the treatment and repair of library and archival materials.

  • Uses specialized equipment such as ultrasonic welder, stereomicroscope, board shear, and other hand-bookbinding tools.

  • Prepares materials for treatment by the Library’s conservation vendors and performs quality control on completed items.

Assists with management of daily/weekly workflow and maintains workspace:        

  • Maintains daily/weekly workflow of library materials sent to the Conservation Section.

  • Tracks materials using the Library’s integrated library system, Horizon and other databases.

  • Maintains the organization and cleanliness of the workspace.

  • Prepares inventories and orders for needed supplies and equipment.

  • Assists with training and direction of student assistants.

  • Compiles accurate statistics and documentation on work performed.

Contributes to Conservation’s outreach and disaster response activities: 

  • Works with Head of Conservation to prepare and present programs for Library staff and campus community.

  • Salvages library materials damaged by water or other disasters.

  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Demonstrated skills in book conservation and binding techniques.

  • Ability to organize complex and varied tasks, meet deadlines, and work independently.

  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

  • Ability to work independently and efficiently and exercise independent judgment.

Additional Requirements ​​

Education, Experience, or Certifications:


  • Bachelor’s degree required.


  • Formal training in a book conservation setting required.

  • At least one (1) year of experience performing conservation treatments in a library or comparable environment required.

Technical Knowledge or Skills:

  • Specialized knowledge of book structures, binding techniques, paper repair, and conservation practices required.

  • Familiarity with word processing software.

Working Conditions and Physical Requirements:

  • Ability to handle rare and fragile materials in a safe and sensitive manner required.

  • Ability to lift and move up to 30-pound boxes, pack and unpack boxes required.

  • Ability to stand for extended periods of time required.

Pay Range:

  • $20.54 - 30.07 hourly

Required Documents:

  • Resume

  • Portfolio of relevant conservation work

When applying, the document(s) MUST  be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Benefit Eligibility


Requires Compliance with University Covid-19 Vaccination Requirement


Pay Frequency


Pay Range

Please refer to Additional Requirements to see the pay ranges

Scheduled Weekly Hours



024- Local 743, I.B.T. Clerical

Job is Exempt


Drug Test Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


Health Screen Required


Posting Date


Remove from Posting On or Before


Posting Statement: ​​

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity /Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.


Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.


We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.


All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check that includes a review of conviction history.  A conviction does not automatically preclude University employment.  Rather, the University considers conviction information on a case-by-case basis and assesses the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, the proximity in time of the conviction, and its relevance to the position.


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