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Film Conservator

Company: Harvard University

Location: Cambridge, MA

  • Full Time

Harvard University

Job Code

386057 Library Professional

Duties & Responsibilities

Reporting to the Head of Media Preservation in Harvard Library’s Preservation Services, the Film Conservator is responsible for managing all operations performed in the Harvard Library Film Preservation unit. This position collaborates with repositories across campus with film collection holdings. This position also assists the Head of Media Preservation in strategic planning activities that promote the services of the Media Preservation unit to further the effort to preserve Harvard Library’s media collections.

Duties and Responsibilities
Supervisory Responsibilities

  • Supervises Film Preservation staff including film conservators, interns, contractors, and student workers.


  • Works as a liaison with students and scholars to view sensitive material.

Control and Care of the Motion Picture Collection

  • In consultation with librarians, curators, and archivists, examines, develops preservation specifications for, and performs or oversees conservation actions on films from the special collections of Harvard libraries.

  • Performs conservation actions, including: Creates can labels and bar codes, re-can a film when necessary, add countdowns and leaders and make necessary repairs to the body of the film. Obtains an accurate footage count and determine whether a film is missing any footage, check for splices, shrinkage, decomposition or any other physical damage such as scratches, broken perforations, edge damage and other problems.

  • Conducts condition surveys and assessments, analyzes results, and develops action plans.

  • Working with appropriate stakeholders, contributes to the development of conservation policies, guidelines, project plans, and grant proposals.

  • Advises curators and librarians regarding the preservation of film material.

  • Utilizes material analysis techniques and provides recommendations for analysis to be contracted.

  • Creates reports and tracks conservation actions according to the specifications of the Harvard libraries, in consultation with librarians, curators, and archivists.

  • Participates in educational program activities.

  • Serves on Library Collections Emergency Team.

  • Serves on the Preservation Liaison team; serves as Liaison to the Harvard Film Archive.

Film Reformatting

  • Supervises film-to-film preservation and film scanning activities. Work involves both vendor services and in-house services.

  • Contributes to the overall goals of the department as appropriate.

Essential physical demands of the position (reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions)

  • Ability to handle sharp tools.

  • Up-close and accurate color vision.

  • Ability to lift materials weighing up to 40 pounds and navigate heavily loaded rolling carts or book-trucks.

Work Environment

  • Some tasks involve exposure to dust, mold, or solvents.

  • Expected to attend offsite meetings across the university.

  • Occasional work visits to the Harvard Depository, off-site film storage cold vault.

Basic Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in conservation with specialization in film conservation or equivalent training;

  • A minimum of four years of professional experience in a conservation facility.

  • Demonstrated experience performing a broad range of complex conservation treatments.

  • Training in FIAF standards and recommendations for the storage, handling and projection of film.

  • Training in the history of filmmaking, production and post-production processes.

  • Experience writing specifications, work plans, documentation of treatments, and preparing reports.

Additional Qualifications

  • Supervisory experience preferred.

  • Working knowledge of chemistry and materials science.

  • Database management experience preferred.

  • Film digitization experience preferred.

  • Experience working in a research library setting preferred.

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills, including in public speaking, teaching, and training; and contributions to the professional literature.

  • Ability to initiate and adapt to change, to analyze and solve problems, and to be flexible and work collaboratively.

  • Strong organizational skills, including the ability to establish priorities and achieve goals.
  • Working knowledge about NTSC, PAL, SECAM and HD video formats.

Additional Information

Diversity at the Harvard Library
Across the Harvard Library, our work is enriched by our diverse campus community. Our unique and wide-ranging abilities, experiences, and perspectives are integral to achieving Harvard University’s mission of excellence in research, teaching, and learning for our patrons, our collections, and our workplace. We believe that an inclusive environment that cultivates and promotes understanding, respect, and collaboration across our diverse workforce enables our success. The Director of Learning and Teaching Services will promote and embody this commitment through his/her work and relationships.

We encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to apply to be a part of our community of over 700 staff members. Our work with faculty, students and researchers to explore answers to intellectual questions, enduring and new, and to seek solutions to the world’s most consequential problems, requires that we not only reflect, but also champion our diverse society.

Harvard Library inspires collaboration, reflection, experimentation, and discovery. Serving as an information hub, the Library connects users to related disciplines and to University-wide teaching resources. The Library engages users through curated discovery, digital collections, reimagined physical space, specialized research support, and delivers exceptional experiences to its user communities. Today, Harvard Library’s holdings range from traditional print collections to rapidly expanding access to digital resources. Harvard Library provides the University’s faculty, students, and researchers—now and in the future—with comprehensive access to these materials.

Learn more about our contributions to the academic enterprise by visiting us at and about the Harvard University community at

The Harvard Library is a proud member of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Diversity Alliance.

Job Function




USA – MA – Cambridge


Media Preservation Services

Time Status



00 – Non Union, Exempt or Temporary

Salary Grade


Pre-Employment Screening

Criminal, Education, Identity

EEO Statement

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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