Job Description

Highgate Literary & Scientific Institution (HLSI)

Job Title: Librarian
Salary: £32,000 per annum
Duration: Permanent
Working Hours: Full time, 35 hours net per week
Reports to: The President of the HLSI
Starting date: To be agreed, between July and September 2021

The HLSI has a vacancy for an experienced, professional librarian with digital expertise.

The HLSI is a charity offering opportunities for life-long learning from its historic Grade II listed building in the centre of Highgate Village, London, N6.  Since its establishment in 1839 it has been central to the area’s varied cultural life.  Today, the Institution offers a range of popular adult courses, weekly lectures, debates, social events, art exhibitions, a film club, science, opera groups and other activities, but the heart of the organisation is its library and archive.

Our independent lending library is one of only two in London with membership of the Association of Independent Libraries. It has nearly 26,000 books on all subjects, which are constantly updated, with a strong emphasis on biography, literature, history, and general fiction, including a very popular crime fiction section. There is also a small children's library with books for all ages.

Many of our books are not available in other libraries, and the collection has often proved to be a useful resource for researchers and writers. The HLSI holds special collections on London, Highgate, Mary Kingsley and the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and John Betjeman, all of whom lived locally. 

Our archive houses documents and pictures of all kinds relating to Highgate, its environs and its residents since the early seventeenth century. It also holds the archives of past local organisations including the Mary Feilding Guild, Highgate Dispensary, Almshouses, Highgate Book Society and the Mothercraft Training Society which was based at nearby Cromwell House.

The Job
The HLSI has a salaried staff of six people including the librarian, most of whom work part time, and an army of volunteers. The Library is managed by its salaried librarian and by a library committee of eight volunteers who assist and advise the librarian.  Therefore, as the only professional librarian, you will need to be self-motivated and capable of all aspects of running a modern library including:

Selection, ordering, accessioning, cataloguing and classification of books and other materials for the lending library and special collections, including management of donated books.  Producing monthly/bi-monthly list of new acquisitions for the website, display in the library and the Members’ Room.

Stock Management: Reviewing of existing stock, assessing the need for repairs and stock disposals. You will develop and manage these special collections, both print and digital, ensuring that they are appropriately housed and handled, and access is managed correctly.  We are looking to increase awareness of these collections and will be looking for initiatives for promotion to a wider audience.

Digital: You need to be familiar with Heritage Cirqa (or a comparable system), our library cataloguing and management software, and work with our software providers to further modernise the library’s offering, perhaps with e-books. You will be responsible for maintaining the Library pages on the HLSI website. You must be aware of Data Protection legislation in relation to the Library database and ensure all volunteers are aware of and comply with it.

Volunteers:  You will assist in recruiting, training, supporting and managing volunteers for all library routines including staffing the library desk, carrying out book repairs, H&S awareness, emergency procedures, etc.

Reporting:  You will attend quarterly Library, Archive and Management Committee meetings and prepare brief reports when needed, as well as contribute to the bi-annual HLSI newsletter. You will have oversight of the physical infrastructure of the Library and, in consultation with the House & Buildings Committee, will plan maintenance and improvements.

Members and the wider public:  You will answer members’ enquiries, order and supervise newspapers and periodicals in the Members’ Room, organise library displays and produce booklists for lectures as required. You will represent the Institution in the Association of Independent Libraries, Historic Libraries Forum and other professional bodies and make and maintain contacts with librarians in other libraries.

Fund raising: All areas of the HLSI are expected to generate some income, and initiatives for promoting the Library and other income-raising events will be encouraged.

Archive:  Part of your working week, perhaps a day, will be spent assisting the Archive volunteers.  As with the Library, the HLSI is keen to promote and widen access to its archive, and resources are available for this purpose. Some knowledge of modern archiving, including digitising, will be an asset. You will be expected to support the Archive and assist the collection’s volunteers in their role of recording, classification and preservation of the Institution’s archives.

Support:  The HLSI supports its staff in their professional development and will allow time and resources for appropriate training.

Experience and Personal Qualities
We are open-minded, but as a minimum we are looking for someone who has:
• a commitment to a career in librarianship.
• either recently qualified as a librarian and has some experience, or is further along their library career path
• good interpersonal skills, and the ability to work both independently and as part of a small team.
• the ability to thrive in what may well be a rapidly changing environment.
• good IT skills, including experience of Heritage Cirqa (or a comparable library system)
• An accredited library qualification
• Some knowledge of modern archiving practice, including digitising.

The HLSI is a friendly, local membership organisation in which volunteers and staff work closely together making it an extraordinary and enjoyable place to work. We have thrived for nearly two hundred years, when most similar bodies have disappeared, because we care passionately about what we do and our aims.  We expect our staff to work flexibly and with enthusiasm, treating every colleague, volunteer, member or visitor with respect, courtesy and honesty.

The HLSI’s librarian has always been regarded as a knowledgeable and highly respected figure, both by the members and the wider community.  We want the Library to continue to be relevant and thrive and we are looking for the right person to take on this responsibility and have the reward of enormous job satisfaction. 

Applications must be made by downloading an application form, available by clicking here, and emailing the completed form to:   CVs will not be accepted.  The closing date for applications is Friday, 7th May, 2021.

Job share applications welcome. Members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply in order to redress the imbalance of BAME within the organisation.