Harvard University

Job Title

Associate Head of Acquisitions


Harvard Library


Opening Date: 10/06/2021
Closing Date:  01/03/2022

Job Description

Reporting to the Head of Acquisitions, the Associate Head of Acquisitions will help to lead and manage staff members engaged in acquiring and ensuring access to monographic library materials published in all formats, languages, and disciplines. The incumbent will facilitate timely access to Harvard Library collections by managing multiple acquisitions units and working closely with library directors and Collection Development colleagues. The Associate Head of Acquisitions will work closely with the Head of Acquisitions and the Associate Head of Continuing Resources & Serials to develop strategic and operational plans, policies, and best practices. In addition, the incumbent will provide the leadership and supervision necessary for successful change management and staff retraining.

Success attributes include strong strategic focus, active participation in the ITS management team, proven project management skills, a visible commitment to staff development in an environment that promotes creativity, innovation and continuous improvement, robust and effective communication with key constituents and stakeholders, and accountability for results.


Job Duties

Operations and Service Delivery

  • Establish effective, timely and standardized work processes, policies and best practices in coordination with ITS senior leadership, ITS management peers, Harvard Library colleagues, and other stakeholders in order to provide high-quality and responsive service to library users
    • Guide Senior Functional Coordinators for each unit in setting priorities and communicating with staff to achieve short-term and long-term processing goals
    • Optimize workflows to reduce processing time, backlogs and manual/local data entry whenever possible
  • Review and stay current with vendor service offerings and evaluate value to the Harvard Library organization; make proposals as appropriate for experimentation and adoption
  • Develop innovative methods to improve efficiency and productivity of the units, introducing automation when practical to reduce repetitive activities while ensuring ongoing quality control and adherence to agreed-upon work standards
  • Introduce ideas, plan appropriate communication and training, and ensure effective documentation is in place to implement changes in technical services policies and procedures
  • Develop and direct special projects and initiatives
  • Develop strong relationships with Collection Development staff who work most closely with the acquisition units under the incumbent's direction
  • Establish strong relationships with the campus libraries to ensure continuing relevance of services that meet their needs; collaborate with library colleagues to develop sustainable services within achievable service expectations
  • Collect and report data concerning unit activity

Strategic Planning and Leadership 

  • Work with the Head of Acquisitions to set the strategic direction for ITS Acquisitions functions, applying knowledge of current issues and trends in material acquisitions strategies, vendor services and tools, and the publishing industry
  • Foster a creative and innovative approach to the implementation of strategic change in an environment that strives for continuous improvement and encourages a flexible workforce to innovate and test ideas inside and outside of their standard roles 
  • Model the units’ "can-do" approach to work and foster an environment that promotes accountability, high performance, staff engagement and diversity through a sense of purpose and a spirit of cooperation; sets standards of excellence that inspire and motivate
  • Promote and participate in campus collaborations that inform technical services through active engagement with colleagues and initiatives across the Harvard Library system
  • Demonstrate accountability and creativity in building strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders
  • Represent Harvard Library in committees and associations beyond Harvard to offer leadership and contributions to the research library community and the library profession
  • Participate in departmental and unit-level strategic planning in consultation with other ITS managers and staff


Basic Qualifications

  • Advanced degree or related work experience
  • 2+ years of relevant experience
  • Four or more years of supervisory experience
  • Reading knowledge of at least one foreign language 

Additional Qualifications and Skills

  • MLIS or MLS preferred
  • Supervisory experience within a combined union and non-union environment 
  • Demonstrated ability to establish priorities and direct and measure work in a high-production setting 
  • Capacity to thrive in the exciting, ambiguous, future-oriented environment of a world-class research institution and to respond effectively to changing needs and priorities 
  • Willingness to recognize and celebrate other people's ideas 
  • Ability to manage competing priorities with a positive, constructive, flexible, and cooperative manner
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills and management, interpersonal and organizational experience and skills
  • Ability to use technology in creative ways to solve problems or facilitate workflows

Physical Requirements

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

  • There are no notable physical demands associated with this position. 

Working Conditions

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those an employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. 

  • This is an office environment. 

Additional Job-Specific Responsibilities:

Technology Management 

  • Maintain knowledge of trends and best practices in acquisitions and library automation and bring an affinity for the application of technology to support processing workflows and/or enhance service to library user communities 

Management and Collaboration

  • Establish strong relationships with key library stakeholders and ensure continuing relevance of services and products to meet their needs 
  • Build and develop critical acquisition capabilities throughout the organization through strategic hiring, staff development and talent management 
  • Advise on developing, maintaining, and reviewing and business relationships with library material vendors in close collaboration with the Head of Acquisitions and collection development staff  
  • Oversee hiring, supervision, and training of Acquisitions staff; working together with line coordinators/supervisors; establish performance expectations and guidelines for staff
  • Oversee the accurate and timely availability of documentation for all procedures and processes 
  • Ensure that agreed standards and performance expectations of technical services are achieved 

Supplementation Information

Statement of Values 

Harvard University aims to be the world’s recognized leader in sustainable inclusive excellence by fostering a campus culture where everyone can thrive. Working in close collaboration with offices across the university, the Harvard Library is becoming one of the campus leaders in advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and antiracism. We believe that an inclusive environment that cultivates and promotes understanding, respect, and collaboration across our diverse workforce enables our success. As well, we believe that our work with faculty, students and researchers to explore answers to intellectual questions, enduring and new, and to seek solutions to the world’s most consequential problems, requires that we not only reflect, but also advance our diverse society. 

Harvard Library’s core values are the foundation upon which our antiracism agenda is being developed. Our values emphasize that we lead with curiosity, seek collaboration, champion access, aim for the extraordinary, and cultivate and celebrate diversity in our collections and our community to construct a more inclusive and just world. Our focus on antiracism is a commitment to live our values. It is about building not only a better organization, but a better research library – an exemplary antiracist research library. We aspire to be global leaders in expanding world knowledge and intellectual exploration, and that starts on our campus, where we are a center for knowledge supporting our faculty and students in pursuing antiracism through their research, teaching and learning. 

Diversity and Inclusion at the Harvard Library 

Our commitment to antiracism is a commitment to addressing other forms of discrimination as well, such as those based on gender, sexuality, religion or ability. Our antiracism work will continue a strong record of diversity initiatives, ranging from targeted collection development and the design of inclusive spaces to a learning journey for staff and a focus on employee recruitment and retention. We are deeply committed to increasing diversity in the profession, through activities such as our longstanding membership in the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Alliance. 

How to Apply

Apply Online:

Although the position will remain posted until filled, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply by end of day on November 5, 2021.

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