Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) invites applications for the full-time position of Dean of Libraries to commence August 2016. The Dean will be an academic leader who understands and promotes the integral role of libraries and academic centers in supporting scholarly and creative communities, and who has a vision for the advancement and transformation of these resources to address significant change and opportunity in higher education and creative practice. The Dean will be prepared to work with and engage the RISD community, including the RISD Museum of Art, in the development and implementation of new resources, programs, and other strategic initiatives that support student success and advance research, scholarship, and creative practice.

The Dean of Libraries will replace the current Director of Library Services and includes leadership of four academic units – the Fleet Library at RISD, the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, the Writing Center, and Campus Exhibitions. The Dean will work to advance and coordinate these areas to effectively support RISD’s academic mission, and to ensure these units are recognized as strategic assets in the advancement and development of the institution. The Dean oversees approximately 30 librarians, archivists, directors, and other staff.

The Dean will be directly responsible for oversight and leadership of the Fleet Library at RISD and all its operations including, but not limited to:

collection development and stewardship;

support for faculty and curatorial research and instruction;

exhibitions, publications, and library programming;

professional development and advancement of librarians, archivists, and library staff;

management and evaluation of librarians, archivists, and library staff;

management of library budgets;

grant-writing and fundraising;

development and articulation of policies and procedures for the library and archives; and

long-range planning.

The Nature Lab, Writing Center, and Campus Exhibitions are led by individual Directors, each of whom report to the Dean. The Dean will oversee all operations, and will allocate financial and other resources to ensure that each unit is supporting exceptional learning and developmental opportunities for students.

The Dean of Libraries will be a key member of RISD’s leadership team, reporting directly to the Provost and serving as a member of the President’s Leadership Council and the Deans and Provost’s Councils. The latter group is comprised of the deans and senior academic leadership and is responsible for the development, coordination, and implementation of school-wide academic policies, strategic and other planning efforts, resource allocation, and initiatives related to critical issues including diversity, instructional technology, and academic program development.

The Dean will be an advocate for libraries and assigned academic support units both internally and externally, and will work with faculty, deans, and other colleagues to create successful educational partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaborations within the college and with external community and academic partners. The Dean will engage directly with students, faculty, and staff across the institution, and will have an active role in cultivating and strengthening relationships with local and national organizations, as well as donors, sponsors, and alumni/ae.

The Dean of Libraries will be responsible for leading a strategic planning process for libraries and assigned academic support units, including development and articulation of mission and strategic goals for each area and in aggregate, in alignment with current and future institutional planning efforts.

The RISD Library was founded in 1878, and has always been at the heart of the school. The library today is centrally located on the first two floors of the former Rhode Island Hospital Trust Building – the rest of the building consists of student housing and dining facilities. The award-winning adaptive reuse of the former bank was designed by Office dA principals Nader Tehrani BARCH ‘86 and Mónica Ponce de León, and was completed in 2006. The magnificent original banking hall serves as the library’s main reading room, with other collections and resources on the second floor.

The Library includes an open stack collection of 100,000 volumes, including a reference section, 1,500 RISD masters’ theses, and 330 current periodicals. Special collections and storage include another 54,000 volumes, plus 19,000 uncatalogued auction catalogs. Print collections focus on art, architecture, and design, with 15% in supporting areas of the humanities and social and physical sciences. Special collections include artists’ books, the Lowthorpe Collection on Landscape Architecture, the Gorham Design Library, and the Selma Ordewer/Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection.

The Library is committed to ongoing development of its print collections, and continues to actively collect books, purchasing roughly 2,300 per year, plus an additional 1,200 acquired through gifts.

Print publications and special collections are augmented by an increasing number of digital resources, including 140,000 ebooks, 700 e-journals, and access to articles in tens of thousands of online journals. Nearly 20 million images are available through image database subscriptions.

The Library hosts and operates an online institutional repository – Digital Commons @ RISD – that collects and presents outstanding faculty and student research and creative work, college records and history, and materials from the Library’s Special Collections.

The Material Resource Center includes a collection of over 36,000 items across broad composition-based categories such as wood, metal, glass, mineral, animal, plastics, and composites, etc. The Center is a place for students and faculty to explore materials and discover new methods and processes that inspire their work.

The Library also holds RISD’s institutional archives for both the College and the Museum, and is a significant scholarly resource both within RISD and for outside scholars.

Founded in 1937 by RISD graduate and long-time faculty member Edna Lawrence, The Edna W. Lawrence Nature Lab  provides students and faculty with an engaging space for exploring the forms, patterns and processes of life on Earth.  The Nature Lab houses an expanding lending library of more than 80,000 natural science specimens designed for hands-on study and exploration; and participates in many initiatives and collaborations at the intersection of science and art, including externally-funded, multi-year Federal and State grants. These grants have led to major investments in research-grade microscopy and micro-imaging systems unparalleled in an art and design school, as well as aquatic systems and lab equipment for maintaining and studying a variety of living and non-living specimens.

The RISD Writing Center supports undergraduate and graduate students through one-to-one peer tutoring in writing and related literacies, including public speaking and visual communication. In addition to tutoring, the Center offers workshops and other resources for students and faculty on learning and teaching writing, and advocates for writing as a method and record of critical thinking and expression in all disciplines, including art and design.

Campus Exhibitions oversees three student exhibitions spaces on campus: Woods-Gerry Gallery, Sol Koffler Gallery and the Gelman Gallery. Additionally, Campus Exhibitions plans and oversees the annual Graduate Student Exhibition and the Faculty Biennial,  as well as several other smaller exhibition spaces across campus.

Rhode Island School of Design recognizes diversity and inclusivity as fundamental to its learning community and integral to an art and design education.  We welcome candidates whose experience in academic leadership, teaching, scholarship, professional practice, or service has prepared them to contribute to our commitment to diversity and excellence.



  • Masters degree required; MLS/MLIS preferred.
  • Undergraduate or graduate degree in the theory and/or practice of Architecture, Design, or the Fine Arts is preferred.
  • Minimum of five years of progressive responsibility and experience in all phases of library and/or academic resource administration.
  • Record of success in fostering strong collaborations and partnerships across an organization.
  • Significant experience and demonstrated success with administration and management of staff and complex programs; including the ability to lead and engage staff through organizational improvement and change.
  • Experience in budget preparation and financial management, and in developing and evaluating services.
  • Record of scholarship and active participation in relevant professional associations.
  • Experience in curricular development, writing and research support programs, museum education, or academic publishing is preferred.
  • Effective written and oral communication and interpersonal skills; well-developed assessment and analytical skills.
  • Extensive knowledge and understanding of research libraries, their roles in higher education, and the impact of information technology.
  • Demonstrated understanding of key issues and current trends in higher education and their impact on libraries and academic services.
  • Experience with fundraising and public engagement.
Job Information
  • Providence, Rhode Island, 02903, United States
  • 27268265
  • March 7, 2016
  • Dean of Libraries
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Miscellaneous
  • No
  • Full-Time
  • Master’s Degree