Preparator – Princeton University Library, Princeton, NJ


Princeton University Library (PUL) seeks an enthusiastic and collaborative Preparator to support the PUL Exhibition Program which mounts 2-3 major and 6-10 smaller exhibitions annually. PUL is one of the world’s leading research libraries, serving a diverse community of 5,200 undergraduates, 2,600 graduate students, 853 faculty members, and many visiting scholars. Its holdings include more than 7 million printed volumes, 5 million manuscripts, 2 million non-print items, and extensive collections of digital text, data, and images. PUL employs a dedicated and knowledgeable staff of more than 300 professional and support staff working in a large central library, 9 specialized branches, and 3 storage facilities. 

Major Responsibilities

The Preparator works to ensure that PUL exhibitions and exhibition loans are carried out to the highest possible standard. Coordinating with the Exhibitions Registrar & Gallery Operations Manager, as well as curatorial, conservation, and other PUL staff, the Preparator mats, frames, and mounts a wide range of PUL materials for in-house exhibition or loan; provides expert art handling, transport, and installation services in support of the exhibition and loan programs; and monitors and maintains the Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library. The Preparator reports to the Paper Conservator and is a member of the Preservation & Conservation Department. 

Exhibitions Preparation, Packing, and Re-housing (50%)

  • Work closely with the Exhibitions Registrar & Gallery Operations Manager, PUL staff, and occasional guest curators to plan and prepare two to three major exhibitions and six to 10 branch exhibitions annually
  • Prepare materials for exhibition including matting, framing, and creation of custom mounts to Conservation staff specifications
  • Work with contract mount makers to ensure that object mounts meet specifications 
  • Mount and hang labels and other signage for items going on display
  • Prepare condition reports for PUL materials going on display at PUL or on loan to other institutions
  • Pack PUL materials going on loan to other institutions, including retrofitting crates; unpack and re-pack loan materials from other institutions 
  • Assist fine art shippers with pick up and delivery of PUL and loan objects being transported by art shippers, including coordinating pick up and delivery 
  • Assist couriers during installations and de-installations to mount and install their loan objects
  • Create temporary or permanent housings for materials going on loan
  • Order and maintain supplies related to exhibition preparation, packing, and re-housing for loan
  • Participate in other re-housing, collection care, and collection move projects as assigned

Art Handling and Installation (25%)

  • Receive art handling and exhibition installation assignments from supervisor and provide timely service to meet these needs 
  • Provide art handling for PUL exhibitions and loans including transportation of PUL and loan materials around campus and within the NYC/PHL area; handle and transport a range of materials including books, works on paper, paintings, textiles, sculptures, and other objects
  • In collaboration with the Exhibitions Registrar & Gallery Operations Manager and Preservation & Conservation Department colleagues, install and de-install exhibits in PUL gallery spaces around campus including Firestone Library’s Milberg Gallery and other PUL exhibition spaces, as well as exhibits in the University Archives, Marquand Art Library, Cotsen Children’s Library, the Engineering, Architecture, Music, and East Asian Libraries; ensure that collection materials are appropriately supported and secured while on display
  • Collaborate with the Lead Curator, the Exhibitions Registrar & Gallery Operations Manager, and Exhibition Designer to implement case layouts and lighting schemes for each exhibition
  • In close collaboration with Curators, Conservators, and Princeton University Art Museum staff, install, move, dust, and/or protect works as required

Gallery Operations (15%)

  • Conduct walkthroughs of exhibit areas and general Library spaces to ensure exhibit fixtures and cases are clean, operational, and well-maintained
  • Provide general housekeeping for the works on display (such as dusting frames and vitrines) and maintain housekeeping records
  • Monitor for repairs, hazards, pests, or opportunities for improvement
  • Collect environmental data and light readings. Note and escalate any concerns or changes to objects on display

Other Departmental Duties (10%)

  • Participate in departmental initiatives and activities
  • Assist with department response to collection emergencies
  • Other duties as assigned

Required Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree 
  • Minimum of five years’ experience in a museum, gallery, or library setting as a fine art preparator or conservation technician, including extensive experience with hinging, matting and framing
  • Considerable gallery installations experience including demonstrated experience handling books, works on paper, paintings, sculpture, textiles, and decorative arts
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to work collaboratively, follow instructions, and meet deadlines
  • Detail oriented and self-motivated, with a keen sense of mission
  • Knowledge of fine-art packing and transportation techniques
  • Experience with gallery lighting
  • Willingness and ability to legally operate vans and trucks; valid driver’s license required
  • Stand or walk up to 2 hours at one time for 8 hours per day 
  • Sit for less than 2 hours at one time 
  • Operates motor vehicles occasionally (less than 33% of the workday) 
  • Lift or carry up to 45 pounds occasionally (less than 33% of the workday) 
  • Frequently use hands for simple grasping or pushing or pulling (34 – 66% of the workday)
  • Occasionally squat, kneel, climb, reach overhead, knee stand 
  • Lift 5 lbs. overhead frequently 34 – 66% of the work day) 
  • Push or pull with forces up to 45 pounds (less than 33% of the work day) 
  • Frequently bend (34 – 66% of the work day) 
  • Possess ability to work at heights, climb ladders, full range of body motions and physical agility, and ability to maintain balance 
  • Must successfully complete a background check 

Preferred Qualifications

  • MA or MFA 
  • Experience working in an academic library setting
  • Experience constructing book cradles and other mounts from a variety of materials
  • Knowledge of the history of the book including papermaking and book structures; knowledge of artists’ methods, materials, and techniques, as well as a general knowledge of art history
  • Understanding of conservation principles including terminology, philosophy, and ethics, as well as an understanding of the causes of deterioration, the impact of environment on collection longevity, and approaches to mitigating deterioration of cultural heritage materials
  • Knowledge of relevant ADA and OSHA standards 

Annual Salary: $55,000 – $58,000

Applications received by December 31, 2022 will receive first consideration.

Princeton University Library is committed to recruiting a diverse workforce and advancing the University’s commitment to racial equity within our community and in the world. We encourage candidates from all diverse backgrounds and life experiences to apply for our positions. To find out more about PUL’s work towards greater inclusivity, equity, and diversity, please see PUL’s “About” page.

Princeton University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, identity or expression, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.  EEO IS THE LAW.

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