A dynamic organization devoted to library services for the East Asian studies communities in North America since 1958.

National Museum of Asian Art: Head Librarian

OPEN DATE: January 31, 2024                   
CLOSING DATE: March 6, 2024             
Position sensitivity and risk: Non-sensitive (NS)/Low Risk
Open to all qualified applicants

What are Trust Fund Positions?

Trust Fund positions are unique to the Smithsonian. They are paid for from a variety of sources, including the Smithsonian endowment, revenue from our business activities, donations, grants and contracts. Trust employees are not part of the civil service, nor does trust fund employment lead to Federal status. The salary ranges for trust positions are generally the same as for federal positions and in many cases trust and federal employees work side by side. Trust employees have their own benefit program and may include Health, Dental & Vision Insurance, Life Insurance, Transit/Commuter Benefits, Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance, Annual and Sick Leave, Family Friendly Leave, 403b Retirement Plan, Discounts for Smithsonian Memberships, Museum Stores and Restaurants, Credit Union, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center (Child Care), Flexible Spending Account (Health & Dependent Care).
Conditions of Employment
  • Pass Pre-employment Background Check and Subsequent Background Investigation for position designated as low risk.
  • Complete a Probationary Period
  • Maintain a Bank Account for Direct Deposit/Electronic Transfer.
  • The position is open to all candidates eligible to work in the United States.  Proof of eligibility to work in U.S. is not required to apply.


The Head Librarian of the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art Library is responsible for the development, management, and promotion of the Library’s significant collection of materials related to Asian Art, its initiatives, and its expert research services. Success in this role will require excellent relationship-building skills, to ensure that the collections align with institutional priorities, and programmatic offerings have an impact on the Smithsonian and the diverse research communities served by SLA and NMAA. In addition, the position will directly oversee NMAA’s repository of Japanese-language library holdings and collection development, and catalog Japanese publications. The Head Librarian directly supervises 3 FTE.

This position is administered by Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (SLA), located in and jointly supervised with the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art (NMAA), and reports to the SLA Associate Director for Research and Scholarly Services and the NMAA Senior Associate Director for Research.

About Smithsonian Libraries and Archives
The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives (SLA) is the world’s largest museum library and archives system and provides authoritative information and innovative services for Smithsonian researchers and curators, as well as scholars and the public worldwide. SLA is an ARL-affiliated network of 21 specialized research libraries and institutional archives, and provides the Institution’s museums and research centers with resources and services that are as diverse and deep as the collections, exhibits, and scholarship they support. SLA’s digital and print research collections play a dynamic role in advancing scientific and cultural understanding, and span the range of pursuits of humanity from aerospace, anthropology, and art history to business history and botany, cultural history, design, philately, and zoology. It maintains a collection of nearly 3 million volumes and 44,000 cubic feet of archival materials, with locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, New York City and the Republic of Panama.

About National Museum of Asian Art and Library Research Center
With a collection of over 100,000 volumes of materials on Asian arts and cultures, the National Museum of Asian Art’s Library Research Center acquires and makes available its collections, provides a full range of services in support of research, exhibition, publication, and education programs of the institution as well as outside scholars, students, and the public. With more than half of the collection in East Asian languages, the NMAA Library is one of the most important Asian art research libraries in North America. The National Museum of Asian Art, which comprised the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, preserves, exhibits, and interprets Asian art through groundbreaking exhibitions, digital innovation, thought-provoking public programs, and emerging research. It also houses an important collection of nineteenth-century American Art of the Aesthetic Movement, including the largest collection of works by James McNeill Whistler, including his celebrated Peacock Room.


  • Formulates, develops, coordinates, and directs the NMAA Research Center Library programs and operations; formulates and directs long-range planning for the collection development and for improvement of library services, both for physical and digital access for Smithsonian researchers, scholars, and the public.
  • Selects, interprets, and manages collections of scholarly print and electronic materials on Asian art, with particular emphasis on Japanese art. Collects materials published in the field of Asia and Asian studies primarily within arts and humanities disciplines. Conducts research on relevant Asian Art topics, in particular Japanese, to enhance the NMAA Collections. There may be occasional travel for the purpose of acquisitions, research, and/or conference attendance.
  • As a subject expert in the arts of Japan, provides expert reference services, collection development, acquisitions of materials. Performs descriptive cataloging of multilingual collections in accordance with national standards as interpreted by the Library of Congress and oversees the library’s resource description and processing workflows.
  • The position requires the incumbent to be fluent in Japanese to oversee and describe the repositories of Japanese art historical publications and catalogue Japanese publications.
  • Provides advanced reference and research service, and oversees library staff in scholarly research support, outreach and instruction. Anticipates research needs, and creates specialized trainings and online research tools, and keeps abreast of relevant resources and technology to support the work of a 21st century research library.
  • Supervises NMAA library staff, interns, volunteers, and students. Establishes performance goals and duties, conducts formal and informal evaluations, assesses training needs and makes recommendations for further staff development and hiring.
  • Develops budget projections for library operations and monitors annual budget spending. Manages the library’s collections budget for monographs and serial acquisitions. Supervises all acquisitions by purchase and gift/exchange to ensure the comprehensiveness of the library collection, including the receiving, processing, and payment of materials.
  • Develops strong relationships and works collaboratively with NMAA museum curators, Smithsonian colleagues, and affiliated researchers. Represents SLA and NMAA at attendance and participation in professional associations, seminars, and conferences, and in collaboration with internal and external partners.


Education Requirement

Have completed master’s or equivalent graduate degree in library science; or

Two (2) full academic years of graduate study in library science leading to such a degree in an accredited college or university, in addition to completion of all work required for a bachelor’s degree; or

At least 5 years of a combination of college-level education, training, and experience. Education, training, and experience established knowledge and understanding of the theories, principles, and techniques of professional librarianship; a knowledge of literature resources; and the knowledge and abilities essential for providing effective library and information services.


  • Applicants must have had progressively responsible experience and training sufficient in scope and quality to furnish them with an acceptable level of the following knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the duties of the position without more than normal supervision.
  • Knowledge of current cataloging rules and bibliographic utilities to manage library catalogs and related data files to enhance user usability.
  • Expert knowledge of Asian and Japanese art history.
  • Knowledge of and fluency in the Japanese language (speaking, reading, writing), sufficient to oversee NMAA’s repository of Japanese art historical publications and journals, including expertise on cataloguing Japanese publications.
  • Knowledge of scholarly communication and publishing practices throughout East Asia and arising from East Asian Studies.
  • Expert organizational and communications skill and ability to work and interact effectively with the administrations, staff, outside researchers, students, and other users, as well as national and local organizations.
  • Knowledge and understanding of library operations, policies, procedures, techniques, and ability to develop and plan library programs.
  • Knowledge of digital library initiatives to enhance NMAA’s shared and public access to collections and research resources.
  • Ability to lead and/or supervise library personnel and staff, including planning, and monitoring work assignments, evaluating work performance, and providing feedback on performance.
  • Ability to prepare, justify, and/or administer a program budget to ensure cost-effective support of programs and policies.
In addition to the Qualification Requirements for this position, your resume must also demonstrate at least one year of specialized experience at or equivalent to the IS-12 or GS-12 grade level or pay band in the Federal service or equivalent experience in the private or public sector.

Applicants, who wish to qualify based on education completed outside the United States, must be deemed equivalent to higher education programs of U.S. Institutions by an organization that specializes in the interpretation of foreign educational credentials. This documentation is the responsibility of the applicant and should be included as part of your application package.
Any false statement in your application may result in your application being rejected and may also result in termination after employment begins.
The Smithsonian Institution values and seeks a diverse workforce. Join us in “Inspiring Generations through Knowledge and Discovery.”
Resumes should include a description of your paid and non-paid work experience that is related to this job; starting and ending dates of job (month and year); and average number of hours worked per week.

What To Expect Next: Once the vacancy announcement closes, a review of your resume will be compared against the qualification and experience requirements related to this job. After review of applicant resumes is complete, qualified candidates will be referred to the hiring manager.

Relocation expenses are not paid.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
The Smithsonian Institution provides reasonable accommodation to applicants with disabilities where appropriate. Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation should contact KennedyW@si.edu. Determinations on requests for reasonable accommodation will be made on a case-by-case basis.  To learn more, please review the Smithsonian’s Accommodation Procedures.

The Smithsonian Institution is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We believe that a workforce comprising a variety of educational, cultural, and experiential backgrounds support and enhance our daily work life and contribute to the richness of our exhibitions and programs. See Smithsonian EEO program information: www.si.edu/oeema.

About Smithsonian Institution

Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian is the world’s largest museum and research complex of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. There are 6,000 Smithsonian employees, including approximately 500 scientists. The total number of objects, works of art and specimens at the Smithsonian is estimated at nearly 137 million.