Library and Archives Director

Job Description

English Folk Dance and Song Society




The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is offering an exciting opportunity for an experienced library and information professional to take up the post of Library and Archives Director of EFDSS’ award winning Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. 



EFDSS is the award-winning national development organisation for the English folk arts. This multi-faceted organisation is a membership society; the central venue for England’s folk arts (Cecil Sharp House); an education, training and development agency; an advocate on behalf of the folk arts; and custodian of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML), England's dedicated folk music and dance archive.

EFDSS became an Arts Council England Regularly Funded Organisation in 2009, and as a National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) has confirmed funding to 2022.

Over the past decade EFDSS has significantly developed its activities and its reach.

Notable developments include:

  • Creation of the largest on-line digital collection of the folk arts (Take 6 and The Full English) through projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF);
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council funded digitisation and outreach project, Carpenter Folk Online
  • A national programme of lectures, conferences and training events
  • National engagement project for schools, teachers and the wider community, delivered in every English region, funded by the HLF;
  • Development of a national children and young people’s programme, including the first National Youth Folk Ensemble, established in 2016;
  • Partnerships with arts, arts education and heritage organisations across England and overseas;
  • A professional music programme and visual arts programme to invigorate Cecil Sharp House. The music programme has a focus on English folk music in all its forms but also comprises folk artists from other countries and includes artists at all levels of their careers.
  • An International Artists’ Development Programme to support both the creativity and business skills of folk artists and to engage artists from other genres in the folk arts;
  • Development of Cecil Sharp House to improve access (lift and hearing loops) and upgrade public areas including a complete restoration and renovation of our main space, Kennedy Hall, and of the VWML.
  • Introduction of a professional customer relationship management and box office system.


Our developments have been recognised by our peers with a range of awards: Designated status for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (2011); International Association of Music Libraries Best Music Library (2011); Unsung Musical Heroes award from the Mayor of Camden (2011); Music Teacher Magazine Award for Best Digital Resource (2016); Folk Alliance International Lifetime Achievement Award (2016); FATEA Magazine Best Tradition Award (2016).


The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library

The VWML was founded with the opening of Cecil Sharp House in 1930. Originally called the Cecil Sharp Library, it housed Sharp’s collection of approximately 1,000 books, which he bequeathed the English Folk Dance Society. The library was renamed in honour of the composer, song collector and President of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), Ralph Vaughan Williams, who died in 1958.

The amalgamation of English Folk Dance Society and the Folk-Song Society in the early 1930s, plus the subsequent bequests, donations and purchases since that time, saw the library grow considerably over the years, most notably with the addition of other media, including sound, moving image, pictorial and manuscript collections of many of the most eminent folklorists and collectors of the twentieth century. Today, VWML is a multi-media library and archive, and achieved the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s designated status in 2011 in recognition of its status as England’s principal folk arts collection. 

In 2007, through the endeavours of the VWML, EFDSS was awarded £154k from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop a pilot programme to digitise some of its collections and deliver an accompanying outreach programme in primary schools and the wider community in London, Hampshire and Lancashire – Take 6.  The success of Take 6 led to the development of The Full English (2012-14), which saw a further 12 collections of English folk material including manuscripts, note books, correspondence and photographs containing dance, song, music, mummers’ plays and other customs and traditions collected in the first half of 20th century, hosted online. This project received national and specialist media coverage for the digital archive, the accompanying national learning programme and the associated The Full English band and CD (developed from an EFDSS commission).

Throughout 2018-2019 the EFDSS in partnership with the Elphinstone Institute at Aberdeen University added a further collection to its digital archive through the AHRC funded project Carpenter Folk Online. This saw the digitised collection of James Madison Carpenter (a Harvard scholar collecting in Britain between 1929 and 1935) join the existing 26 collections.

More recently, VWML received funding from the National Folk Music Fund and the Marc Fitch Fund to create a folk song subject index and corresponding thesaurus of preferred terms – a much needed and long awaited resource.

These collections, along with our extensive specialist indexes and the Roud folk song and broadside indexes, make the VWML’s site the largest freely accessible online digital archive and database of English folk material in the world.

The VWML is at the heart of EFDSS, and its collections provide the stimulus for much of what we do as well as being the source of information and inspiration for artists from all art-forms and genres, historians, folklorists, TV and Radio programme makers, professionals and amateurs. Over the coming years our collections (both physical and digital) will continue to grow - we will be continuing with our active digitisation programme, expanding to include more audio-visual material for addition to the collection and website. As we develop and grow, these collections must be maintained under robust collection care and digital preservation policies.



Job Title:                    Library and Archives Director (Vaughan Williams Memorial Library)

Reporting to:             Chief Executive          

Responsible for:       Librarian (f-t)

                                    Librarian (p-t 0.6)

                                    Cataloguer (p-t 0.2 remote worker)

                                    Archivist (p-t 0.4)



Based at:                    Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London, NW1 7AY


 Summary Job Purpose

The Library and Archives Director is a member of the Senior Management Team (SMT), led by the Chief Executive and comprising Marketing, Education, Finance, Development, and Operations Directors.  S/he will provide leadership in all aspects of the management and development of the VWML ensuring excellence in collection management and customer care, and developing, in association with the Chief Executive and members of SMT, activities that make the contents of VWML accessible in a variety of ways to a wider public.


Key Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Collections Care, Management and Acquisitions

  1. Planning and managing the development of the VWML and associated resources over the long term in consultation with the Chief Executive, and ensuring that best practice and industry recognised standards are achieved (e.g. National Archives guidelines, and National Conservation Service benchmarking,).
  2. Developing and implementing collection development and management policies and procedures to steer collecting priorities with regards to subject, geographical and temporal coverage, and format. Overseeing and developing the library and archive’s collection care practices and policies, including (but not limited to) environmental management, disaster recovery, digital preservation, and priorities for conservation and off-site storage.
  3. Up-dating, developing and managing effective library and archive systems, including cataloguing, classification, and indexing software and procedures in line with national and international standards to ensure continued access to library resources.
  4. Overseeing the maintenance and development of the library and archive’s online digital resources and resource discovery tools
  5. Overseeing the safe loan of materials to external libraries, museums and galleries, in line with VWML loan policy and procedures.
  6. Developing and maintaining the VWML’s physical spaces, including its public reading room, archive areas and other related facilities, ensuring appropriate access to the collections and working practices that meet legal requirements, embracing equality and diversity.
  7. Ensuring that VWML maintains a high level of customer care when dealing with enquiries of any kind.


    Strategic Development, Financial Management and Fundraising

  8. Working with the Chief Executive and as part of the SMT to develop EFDSS as a whole and the VWML specifically, producing reports to support developmental ideas as appropriate.
  9. Preparing with the Chief Executive, and managing the annual library budget.
  10. Working with the Chief Executive to identify sources of income to support the on-going costs of VWML and specific projects, developing appropriate contacts and working on funding applications and associated reports as required.
  11. Developing and managing opportunities to licence commercially the VWML’s assets, where copyright and ownership of materials allows. e.g. the photographic collection


    Project Development and Management

  12. Working with the Chief Executive, the SMT and other members of staff as appropriate to develop projects that increase access to the folk arts, and in particular collections of folk materials, e.g. through digital and participatory projects.
  13. To oversee and manage such projects or elements of such projects.



  1. To promote VWML’s collection and the study of the folk arts through planning and delivering a range of events including the annual series of “Library Lectures”, and a range of conferences covering the VWML’s specialist subjects of folk song, dance, and tunes.
  2. To oversee the publication of EFDSS’s scholarly journal, Folk Music Journal, liaising with designers and printers in collaboration with the journal editor.


    Marketing and PR

  3. To work with the Marketing and Communication Director and their team to profile VWML and its activities through print, press, broadcast and online media including managing the content of the VWML section of the EFDSS websites.
  4. To act as an ambassador for both EFDSS and VWML, including attending relevant conferences, meetings etc. with the folk and library/archive sectors, and developing relationships and partnerships with other relevant organisations.


Staff Management and General Administration

  1. Line managing the Library and Archive staff, and volunteers as required (the majority of the latter is undertaken by the Librarians and Archivist).Ensuring annual appraisals of staff take place and encouraging relevant training and development (in association with the Operations Director and within EFDSS staff training budgets).
  2. Undertaking own administrative tasks
  3. Any other duties as the Chief Executive sees fit.


Person Specification


Essential Experience

  • Relevant qualifications in Library & Information Management and/or Archives
  • Relevant experience in the operation and management of both libraries and archives, or a department/collection within a large library and archive organisation.
  • Experience of working with collections in different formats
  • Experience of working with digital collections and resources
  • Experience of developing and managing activities/projects to increase access and awareness of the library/archive and/or its specific collections
  • Experience in financial and budget management
  • Experience in managing staff and volunteers
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills, including experience of development and documentation of policies
  • Ability to work within a team and to lead a team
  • Proven capacity to juggle multiple tasks and responsibilities simultaneously
  • Ability to network and communicate with a wide range of agencies and individuals including funders, statutory and voluntary organisations, the folk and other arts professions and the media.
  • Experience of cataloguing and indexing standards and procedures in one or more formats
  • General computer literacy including Word, Excel and email/internet.
  • An enthusiasm for cultural heritage


Desirable Experience

  • Experience of working within the heritage and/or arts sector
  • Knowledge of the folk arts and folklore
  • Experience of fundraising
  • Experience of creating digital archives and platforms
  • Experience in collection care
  • Experience of capital developments/physical library/archive re-organisation


Conditions of Employment

Salary:             £36,000

Hours:             35 hours per week, excluding lunch breaks, Monday to Friday. 

Over-time is not paid, but time-off-lieu (TOIL) is given by prior arrangement with line manager*

Holidays:         25 days per annum plus statutory public and bank holidays.

Probation:       The post carries a 6 month probationary period.


*VWML is open to the public Tuesday to Friday and the first and third Saturday in every month with the exception of August or when that Saturday falls on a public holiday.


This job description is a guide to the nature of the work required of the Library and Archives Director. It is not wholly comprehensive or restrictive and may be reviewed with the post holder and line manager as required.



Applicants should complete the EFDSS application form which is downloadable from, CVs will not be accepted.

Completed applications should be emailed to Rosie Baker at


The closing date for completed applications is 9am on Thursday 12th March 2020.  

Interviews will be held at Cecil Sharp House on Tuesday 24th March 2020.