Rare Books Librarian

This job has now expired
Lambeth Palace Library
£39,289 rising to £42,246 per year after probation

Our aim is for everyone in the National Church Institutions (NCIs) to feel that they belong, and are valued for who they are and what they contribute. Together, our people contribute in different ways towards our common purpose, whichever NCI they work in and whatever their background.

Lambeth Palace Library, founded in 1610, is the historic library and record office of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Following the merger with the Church of England Record Centre in 2020 it is now the principal repository for the archives not only of the Archbishop of Canterbury but also of the National Church Institutions in London. It is freely open for public use, serving as a research centre specialising in ecclesiastical history, but with far wider-ranging archive, manuscript and printed collections, dating from the 9th century to the present day and encompassing everything from medieval manuscripts and early printed books through to modern archives and digital records.

The Library's vision is to collect, preserve and make accessible the memory of the Church of England, so that its cultural and religious history can be explored and enjoyed by all.

Further details may be found on the Library’s website: www.lambethpalacelibrary.org.

This is an opportunity to support the vision and mission of the Library by describing, developing, interpreting and promoting the Library's collections for the benefit of readers and the wider public and to ensure that cataloguing of collections adheres to the best national and international standards.

As Rare Books Librarian, you will have particular responsibility for the early printed books in the Lambeth Palace Library Collection and the Sion College Library Collection.

Normal hours of work are 35 per week worked Monday to Friday. The Reading Room remains open late on Thursday evenings, which will require you to work periodically on a rota basis until 8pm, for which your hours will be adjusted accordingly. Further details will be discussed at interview.

The Church of England is for everyone and we want to reflect the diversity of the community the Church serves across the whole country. Therefore, while of course we welcome all applications from interested and suitably experienced people, we would particularly welcome applicants from UK Minority Ethnic Backgrounds.

Please contact Hugh Cahill, Senior Librarian hugh.cahill@churchofengland.org for an informal conversation.

Interviews are expected to be held on the 11th October 2022.

We offer a unique environment with opportunities for continuous learning, generous annual leave for work life balance, season ticket loans and a range of benefits including discounted entry to attractions and what we feel is a market leading package when it comes to our pension scheme.

The Role

  • Managing the effective curation and cataloguing of the rare and early printed books collections of Lambeth Palace Library, including the Sion College Library collection.
  • Leading, empowering and motivating the cataloguing team, including both permanent and project staff, providing opportunities for professional development and training, and development of collection-based expertise; responsibility for recruitment, induction, allocation of tasks, and performance management.
  • Deputising for the Senior Librarian and leading the printed books team in their absence, including managing volunteers and interns as required.
  • Establishing standards, workflows and protocols for cataloguing in compliance with international standards such as DCRM(B), MARC21 format, and Library of Congress authority control.
  • Leading and managing cataloguing projects, including the cataloguing of new accessions and backlogs.
  • Managing the Library Management System, maintaining and upgrading the indexes and authority files, and acting as liaison for technical and vendor support; ensuring that collections are reported to the relevant external databases and catalogues.
  • Training and supervising the output of all staff who catalogue printed material.
  • Working with colleagues to ensure the security and safe use of the collections.
  • Advising and assisting the Librarian and Senior Librarian with the acquisition and accession of rare books for the collections.
  • Answering enquiries, particularly complex bibliographic questions relating to the Library’s early printed books and the Sion College Library collection.
  • Maintaining awareness of national and international developments in special collections to ensure good practice.
  • Improving role appropriate collections knowledge through regular continuing professional development activities.
  • Engaging with our readers and researchers to promote the use of the collections, both internal and external users, for example supervising the Reading Room on a rota basis (with responsibility for security while on duty there), and answering enquiries.
  • Managing the Back-a-Book scheme; liaising with Collections Care staff to ensure the stability and accessibility of the collections.
  • Scoping and planning projects and partnerships (e.g. cataloguing/data enhancement, digitisation, etc) within collection area and working with the Senior Librarian and other staff to identify priorities and plan projects across the archive collections, including preparation of funding bids for project resources as necessary.
  • Participating in, and where necessary delivering, role appropriate outreach and engagement activities to support the Library’s vision to be accessible to all.
  • Developing ways of actively using digital media (including social media) to promote the collections to the wider public.
  • Carrying out any other Library duties as required.

The Requirements


  • Good IT and keyboarding skills, including MS Office.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills.
  • Ability to manage staff including planning, allocating and monitoring their work.


  • Extensive experience of cataloguing early printed books and deep understanding of cataloguing standards used in the Library, including AACRII, MARC21, DCRM(B).
  • Significant experience of working in a special collections library.
  • A working knowledge of Latin and at least one modern European language.
  • Knowledge of historical bibliography and the history of the book.
  • Experience of working with library management systems and authority control.

Personal Attributes:

  • Self-motivated; able to work independently with initiative, to prioritise and organise tasks, and to work flexibly across a range of duties.
  • Strong interpersonal skills to work effectively with members of staff at all levels, both within the Library and in liaising with colleagues in other departments, including advocacy skills, and the ability to deal politely, confidently and efficiently with external and internal users.
  • Ability to motivate and encourage staff.
  • Ability to work as part of a team.
  • Ability to organise own work and prioritise duties.
  • Ability to work under pressure and to meet deadlines.
  • Ability to work methodically and accurately showing attention to detail.
  • Ability to work to agreed standards.


  • An honours degree or equivalent.
  • Professional qualification in Librarianship or equivalent experience.


Given the nature of the collections candidates must be able to:

  • Move books, archive boxes, etc.
  • Work with items in poor condition.
  • Work one late evening a week.



  • An interest in, and enthusiasm for, historical library and archive collections.


  • Knowledge of British history, with an interest in ecclesiastical history.
  • Experience of cataloguing using Koha.
  • Experience of supervision of members of the public consulting historic collections.
  • Some knowledge of the RDA cataloguing standard.
  • Experience of using MarcEdit and/or other metadata management tools.

We in the National Church Institutions support the mission and ministries of the Church all over England. We work with parishes, dioceses (regional offices), schools, other ministries and our partners at a national and international level.

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As a Disability Confident Leader, we actively look to attract, recruit and retain those of you who are disabled.

As a member of the Armed Forces Covenant, we welcome applications from those of you who have served in our Armed Forces and their families.

We are committed to being an equal opportunities employer and to ensuring that everyone, job applicants, customers and other people with whom we deal, are treated fairly and not subject to discrimination. We will do whatever is necessary to provide genuine equality of opportunity. We continuously review our policies and processes to support our aim to create a workforce as diverse as the nation the Church of England serves.