Director, Swarthmore College Libraries
Swarthmore College, a close-knit, deliberative community of intellectually driven students and a faculty whose scholarly attainments make it pre-eminent among national liberal arts colleges, seeks a new Director of its Libraries. The new Director will participate in strategic planning that, among other initiatives, will make the renewal of Swarthmore’s main McCabe Library a top institutional priority. The incoming Director will have a rare professional opportunity: to manage the realization of McCabe’s next architectural incarnation based on conceptual planning now nearing its conclusion.
McCabe’s renewed and expanded physical plant will anticipate the needs—and comforts—of its twenty-first century users, while also providing state-of-the-art conservation for the College’s existing collections and the flexibility to accommodate various forms of media that may emerge over the next half-century, as well as changing modes of library-centered pedagogy and undergraduate study. It will also integrate existing programming that is now spread over campus, and for which the library staff has partnered, including a Teaching and Learning Commons, a Writing Center, and likely an art gallery and art storage. The renewal of McCabe will also create a greener footprint that fulfills Swarthmore’s sustainability commitments.
The new Director will be charged with raising the visibility of and advocating for the Swarthmore College Libraries as partners in the attainment of the College’s strategic goals, including partnerships including its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity within the Libraries and beyond. Reporting directly to the Provost, the Director supervises six direct reports and a total staff of 40 FTEs. The College Librarian oversees an operations budget of $3.18 million. In addition, the College Librarian will develop close working relationships with Swarthmore’s Chief Information Technology Officer, Teaching and Learning Commons Director; Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility Director; Co-directors of the Aydelotte Foundation, and Vice Presidents for Human Resources and Advancement.
The Director’s duties will include:
Overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Libraries, administering all library resources and services for students, faculty, staff, visiting researchers, and the broader Swarthmore community;
Recruiting, developing, and coaching a library workforce in alignment with job expectations, professional roles, and the College mission, while facilitating mentoring across all departments;
Interacting at all levels in an academic setting, advocating effectively for the Libraries with a variety of constituencies;
Developing and monitoring a strategic plan that supports the overall mission of the College;
Leading a team of librarians, curators, archivists and other staff to monitor and ensure that all financial commitments and expenditures protect the interests of the College;
Participating in the Tri-College Library Consortium with Haverford and Bryn Mawr and strengthening our relationships with PALCI (Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration and Innovation), CNI (the Coalition for Networked Information) and the Oberlin Group of Libraries.
The Director leads all aspects of library administration, including long-term planning, budget development and oversight, community and public relations, personnel selection, facilities management, effective stewardship, and ongoing resource assessment for the Swarthmore College Libraries, which comprise the McCabe Library for Humanities and Social Sciences, the Cornell Library for Sciences and Engineering, the Underhill Performing Arts Library, and the internationally important Swarthmore College Special Collections (including the Friends Historical Library, the Peace Collection, the College Archives, and the Rare Book Room). Amidst upheaval in approaches to information literacy, knowledge discovery, research, and pedagogy, the Libraries have sustained their physical importance at the center of teaching, learning and campus life at Swarthmore. The constituent branches are hubs for research and individual study but also for interdisciplinary and community convenings, classroom instruction, student collaboration, and social gathering. The Swarthmore College Libraries won the 2019 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award.
Founded as a co-educational college in 1864 by members of the Religious Society of Friends, Swarthmore today is a private, non-sectarian college with arts-and-sciences and engineering study. Swarthmore seeks to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern. A $2.9 billion endowment supports 191 tenure track faculty, together with an additional 150 instructional staff who are part and full time visitors, and language and laboratory instructors with a student-faculty ratio of 8:1. Swarthmore offers its 1,689 undergraduates more than 40 major courses of study and provides the opportunity for self-designed majors. Students may choose to pursue their degree through Swarthmore’s Honors Program, which emphasizes independent learning in small seminar classes and culminates with oral and written tests by external examiners who are experts in their field. Swarthmore’s 425-acre campus, 11 miles from Philadelphia, includes the Scott Arboretum, which contains over 4,000 kinds of ornamental plants.
Although classified as a national liberal arts college, Swarthmore’s faculty engage research agendas at the university level while teaching undergraduate students who are among the most passionate in the world. The College prioritizes interpersonal engagement as well as individual study, participation in the campus community, social justice and consensus, in keeping with its Quaker heritage. Teaching and learning at Swarthmore occurs across campus from classrooms inside and out and spaces that include the libraries and performing and visual arts studios. The Libraries maintain, and actively develop through acquisitions, extensive Special Collections and institutional and community archives that are routinely sought out by scholars from across the world for advanced research. Swarthmore benefits from its membership, with Bryn Mawr and Haverford, in the Tri-College Consortium, formalized in 1988, which maintains an integrated library system, shares resources and personnel, and collaborates through working groups and community initiatives.
The Director of the Swarthmore College Libraries will champion, mentor, and diversify a dedicated, highly professional, and service-minded staff as experts in information literacy education and true partners in Swarthmore’s academic enterprise. The Director will be an advocate for the Libraries, sustaining institutional support and communicating the value of librarianship expertise and the physical collections to colleagues outside of the libraries and the public. The Director promotes and stewards the Libraries’ general and special collections and archives, advancing their holdings as a resource for knowledge production and classroom instruction. Collaborating with the Chief Information Technology Officer in charting the digital future of the collections and embracing online platforms for research and scholarly collaboration, the Director fosters diversity and social responsibility, treating all with respect, tact, and trust. Swarthmore expects its Director of the College Libraries to contribute to the profession through active research in librarianship, conference presentations and/or volunteer leadership and service in professional associations. The Director will lead collection development efforts and fundraising for the Libraries, partnering with the Office of Advancement to steward major gifts. An administrative staff position, the Director has voting privileges at Faculty Meetings and will be an active participant in newly launched College-wide discussions for creating and enhancing liberal arts teaching and learning in the 21st century.
An ALA-accredited graduate degree in library and information studies is required.
Candidates should be accomplished professional librarians with at least ten years of successful administrative experience, including significant management and supervisory responsibilities;
A record of leadership that includes promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and a demonstrated commitment to transparent and ethical decision making through consensus building.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:
A collaborative decision-making style, empathy, and team orientation
Strong analytical, interpersonal, and motivational skills
The ability to manage multiple projects concurrently
A command of budgeting, professional development, and mentorship.
Expertise in implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives
A strong service orientation, supporting the Libraries’ goal of improving discovery of and access to the full scholarly record.
Candidates should evidence an understanding of emerging challenges facing academic librarianship, including managing the transition from print to digital materials, storage of and access to print collections, the librarian’s changing role in the research cycle and keeping pace with technological advances while inculcating information literacy to a born-digital generation.
Review of candidate materials will begin immediately and continue until the appointment is made. A complete application will include a letter of interest and a curriculum vitae or résumé. References will be required upon request. Expressions of interest, nominations and inquiries should be directed to Swarthmore’s search consultant, Mr. Chuck O’Boyle of C. V. O’Boyle, Jr., LLC, at email@example.com, who will furnish an internal position description upon request. For full consideration, materials should be submitted by May 18, 2022.