Job listing for Conservator/Senior Conservator Jefferson City, MO USA

By John Korasick posted 03-07-2019 16:36

Conservator/Sr. Conservator
Definition: Conservators work as a team in Missouri's only publicly funded conservation lab for treatment of historically significant paper records, primarily from the 19th and early 20th century. Staff provide physical/chemical treatment to stabilize and repair the most significant documents in the State Archives collection and from local government offices primarily of rare and historical paper records (documents, maps, and books), with occasional stabilization of photographs. The primary work is in conservation treatment; occasional work in outreach (training and consultation) may be required. The senior conservator manages Missouri's only publicly funded conservation lab for treatment of paper records.  The position supervises three-four treatment conservators, plans training and outreach programs for other government agencies, and manages a calendar of production in concert with the Director of Local Records and the State Archivist. 

Job Functions and/or General Responsibilities:

Perform ethical and safe conservation treatments abiding by the American Institute for Conservation's Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice and directions of supervisors.Evaluate paper-based documents and carry out conservation treatments at varying degrees of complexity.
Perform necessary chemical and physical testing to determine treatment needs.
Develop condition reports and treatment proposals, and create photo documentation for work proposed and performed. Maintain tracking records in established computer files.
Perform standard treatments including:dry surface cleaning; humidification and flattening; removal of tapes, adhesives, backings, fasteners, and old mends, including solvent use when warranted; aqueous treatment to wash and/or deacidify; mending and backing/lining; construction of customized protective enclosures; mold remediation.
Repair non-rare books from the Archives reference collection.
Perform high-volume/minimal-treatment to stabilize paper records for microfilming or digitization.
Perform conservation support functions such as:
preparing pastes and chemical solutions; maintaining equipment; cleaning tools and lab space; storing supplies and monitoring inventories; generating project reports and filing conservation documentation.
Training: Occasionally provide training for in-house staff, volunteers, and interns regarding: safe handling procedures, holdings maintenance procedures (fastener removal, surface cleaning, humidification and flattening, housing), etc.
Outreach: On occasion, provide information and education to outside groups, such as the following:
answer technical questions for state/local agencies, cultural organizations, and the public on preservation topics,
provide onsite consultation to local officials and civic organizations on discrete topics such as storage and housing, care and handling, environmental control, pest management, disaster preparedness, etc.,
formal, hands-on workshops in basic care and repair procedures to local government officials, professional organizations, civic groups, or interns,
educational programs and tours of the conservation lab, and write technical leaflets for the agency website, such as those at

In addition to the above responsibilities, the Sr. Conservator duties include:

Staff supervision includes personnel evaluation, the administration of training and planning projects that include negotiation with vendors and local governments.
Sets scheduling priorities, monitors reporting, and conducts field inspections of problems or issues identified by field archivists or local government officials. Also, extensive consultation by phone and email.
Participates directly in procurement of conservation supplies and equipment. Preparing bids and contracts with the Fiscal Office by writing specifications and identifying vendors. 
Hosts state and local government groups in the lab.
Contributory author and editor of SOS Publications (print and Web). The supervisor and staff write and promulgate technical publications on all aspects of preservation practices, available at or in print.
Drafts sections of grant proposals and SOS press releases, as necessary.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

Knowledge of conservation principles and established conservation practices.
Demonstrated effectiveness performing paper conservation treatments in a production setting.
Excellent manual dexterity and sustained concentration with delicate and occasionally repetitive tasks.
Familiarity with Microsoft Office applications and photo-editing software.
Ability to work independently with minimal supervision.
Ability to work with documents that contain dust and mold spores.
Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with associates, public officials, private groups, and the public.
Ability to express ideas clearly and concisely orally and in writing.
Ability to stand, bend, kneel, reach shelves above eye level; lift and carry a forty-pound box; and climb a ladder to retrieve materials.
Ability to travel, including occasional overnight trips.
Must possess a valid Missouri driver's license, or be able to secure one within 30 days of employment.


Minimum Education/Experience: Bachelor's degree required. At least 2 years advanced training in conservation acquired through formal studies or a combination of apprenticeship, advanced courses, and internships. Knowledge of the chemical and physical properties of books/paper and an understanding of the causes of deterioration. Experience with photo conservation is desired, but not necessary. Candidates for Sr. Conservator must have supervisory experience.
Preferred Education/Experience: Advanced degree/certificate in paper conservation through an accredited graduate or equivalent certificate program, formal apprenticeship, or equivalent experience OR Master's degree in library science or archival administration, art, art history, history, historical preservation, or related field, with one year experience in paper conservation. Sound knowledge of organic and physical chemistry.

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