Senior Project Conservator

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Cambridge University Library
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Application deadline: 
Monday, 28 January, 2019

Cambridge University Library (CUL) is currently seeking a highly motivated and experienced Book and Paper Conservator to work as Senior Project Conservator for the Charles Darwin Archive. The post-holder will be part of a dedicated team of two conservators and will support the activities of the Darwin Correspondence Project and the University Library over the next four years. The role will be based in the Department of Conservation which is part of Special Collections and will work with colleagues across the Library to deliver the project.

The Darwin Correspondence Project (DCP) was founded in 1974, has since worked to locate all correspondence written to and by Charles Darwin and to publish complete transcripts in chronological order. The DCP is scheduled to complete the final edition of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin in 2022, which will coincide with a major international exhibition.

This post offers a unique opportunity to make a significant impact on the archive of one of the most influential figures in modern science. Over the past 70 years, the Darwin Archive has been subject to several phases of conservation treatment but still contains large quantities of material awaiting care or needing re-treatment. The archive includes the majority of Darwin's vast correspondence, his experimental portfolios and notebooks, drafts of his major works, papers relating to his publications, documents on the zoology and geology of the Beagle voyage, research notes and abstracts, as well as documents relating to the Darwin family. The archive also includes notebooks, scrapbooks, botanical materials and photographs.

Darwin's correspondence is a key part of CUL's collection of Archives and Modern Manuscripts, and the post will serve the both specific needs of the DCP and the long-term needs of the Darwin Archive as a whole. The core activities of the role will include putting systems in place and building tools for surveying and recording treatments, determining conservation treatment protocols, scheduling a programme of conservation work to support the activities of the DCP, providing quality assurance for conservation treatments carried out by the Darwin project conservator and reporting to and liaising with the DCP at agreed intervals. The post-holder will also be responsible for assessing and preparing material for exhibition in 2022. A significant component of the project will involve conservation work on the archive to support digitisation. This will include assessment of manuscript documents and other archival materials, treatment to stabilise at-risk items prior to digitisation, and provision of handling support and guidance to CUL's Digital Content Unit (DCU).

There will also be opportunities to propose and carry out more in-depth treatments on items identified in the assessment process as priorities for conservation. Knowledge of book structures, book conservation and nineteenth-century archival materials is essential. Experience of working on large-scale conservation projects, especially in the context of digitisation, is highly desirable.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.

To apply online for this vacancy, please visit Cambridge University Job Opportunities website: and click on the 'Apply' button. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Informal enquiries are welcomed by Jim Bloxam, Head of Conservation and Collection Care, on 01223 747410, email:
The closing date for applications is Monday 28th January 2019.
Please quote reference VE17776 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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