Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture

Website Harvard University

Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture

Fine Arts Library, Harvard University


Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on July 8, 2022.


The Fine Arts Library (FAL) at Harvard University seeks an innovative, collaborative, and user-centered Visual Resources Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture for its Digital Images and Slides Collection. Reporting to the Visual Resources Librarian, the incumbent will develop and manage FAL’s collection of visual materials related to the art, architecture, and visual culture of the Islamic world in all formats, including digital images, 35 mm and glass lantern slides, historic photographs and albums, illustrated publications, postcards, and ephemera. Working in a patron-oriented service environment, this position provides assistance to faculty, students, and researchers in all aspects of research, teaching, and learning with Islamic visual materials held in the Fine Arts Library, as well as with related online resources. Additional responsibilities include the implementation of appropriate and forward-looking image metadata schemas, enhancing digital access to collections, and assisting in the development and promotion of FAL resources and services. The incumbent works closely with the Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture and the Photographic Resources Librarian in the Fine Arts Library, as well as the faculty, students, fellows, and staff affiliated with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture (AKPIA) at Harvard University, as well as the broader community at Harvard.


Collection Management, Development, and Access

  • Acquires, evaluates, and identifies visual resources in all formats for FAL’s teaching and research collections in Islamic art and architecture, setting collection priorities to meet research and curricular needs and to ensure that diverse perspectives, underrepresented artists and artistic traditions, and at-risk cultural heritage within the Islamic world are meaningfully represented.
  • Manages digitization, access, and physical arrangement of relevant materials in FAL’s 35 mm slide collection, including the Stuart Cary Welch Islamic and South Asian Photograph Collection, and promotes the collections as a resource for research, teaching, and learning.
  • Together with the Visual Resources Librarian, coordinates and prioritizes the production (e.g., scanning, uploading, cataloging, etc.) of different digital products to ensure timely service to users.
  • Coordinates workflow and quality control for digitization of Islamic visual materials in conjunction with Harvard Library Imaging Services staff or designated outside vendors, as directed.
  • Provides intellectual control for Islamic visual materials using JSTOR Forum and other tools, collaborates with colleagues to establish best practices and authority control, and applies innovative methodologies for efficiency in metadata creation.
  • Together with the Visual Resources Librarian, develops, coordinates, and executes plans for effective arrangement and physical storage of collections of Islamic visual resources, both on- and off-site.
  • Together with the Visual Resources Librarian and the Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture, develops long-range objectives for Islamic visual collections, including planning and implementing projects involving digitization, exhibition, and/or dissemination.
  • Together with the Librarian for Islamic Art and Architecture and the Photographic Resources Librarian, assists in the assessment and selection of historic photographs and other visual materials in the FAL for digitization, preservation, or special projects.

Outreach and Engagement

  • Provides subject-specific reference, research, and instruction services for visual materials in Islamic art and architecture for faculty, students, and researchers throughout the University community.
  • Promotes services and sets collection priorities based on research and curricular needs of faculty, students, fellows, and staff affiliated with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at Harvard University, as well as the Department of History of Art and Architecture, The Aga Khan Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, The Center for Middle East Studies, The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies, and The Harvard Art Museums, among others.
  • Selects and provides images in appropriate formats for use in teaching, and assists faculty and students in integrating visual and presentation technologies in lectures, course websites, etc.
  • Prepares online research guides, reference tools, and finding aids for Islamic visual materials.
  • Advises users on copyright and intellectual property issues regarding image reproduction and publication.
  • Participates in FAL’s general research, teaching, and learning services, including participating in regular office hours in support of image requesters and researchers in the Department of History of Art and Architecture.
  • Collaborates with FAL staff in developing, assessing, and promoting services and collections to effectively meet user needs.
  • Collaborates in the creation of online and physical exhibits and contributes to the promotion of Fine Arts Library materials related to the Islamic world using social media tools, online exhibition platforms, and emerging technologies.
  • Works with colleagues in Harvard Library and across campus to support interdisciplinary and digital scholarship by developing relevant content and research/teaching opportunities.
  • Together with the Visual Resources Librarian, actively participates in relevant committees, working groups, and task forces across Harvard, as needed.
  • Collaborates with external partners, such as the Aga Khan Documentation @ MIT Libraries, on the creation and sharing of metadata, content, and services for users of visual materials on Islamic art and architecture.


  • Master’s degree in library and/or information science or equivalent experience
  • Advanced degree or equivalent experience in the history of art and architecture of Islamic cultures, or the equivalent combination of education, experience, and/or background, etc.
  • 2+ years related professional experience
  • Experience with cataloging and applying metadata standards
  • Knowledge of at least one language relevant to the collection (e.g., Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, etc.)


  • 4+ years related professional experience preferred
  • Knowledge of the historic and contemporary fields of Islamic art and architecture and historical study and their constituent disciplines
  • Working knowledge of more than one language relevant to the collection (e.g., Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, etc.)
  • Working knowledge of Western European languages (e.g., French, German, Spanish, Italian, etc.
  • Experience working with visual resources, photographic, or special collections in an academic setting
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills to work effectively with culturally diverse library users and colleagues
  • Strong technology skills and enthusiasm for adopting innovative approaches that expand access to collections and to facilitate their use in research, teaching, and learning
  • Demonstrated knowledge of image collections and digital projects related to visual culture and history of the Islamic world
  • Record of engagement with professional groups and activities and/or contributions to professional or scholarly literature
  • Demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging, and anti-racism


For more information or to apply to the position please visit:

To apply for this job please visit