Vacancy: Assistant Archivist

Job title

Assistant Archivist 

Salary and hours

£20,400 per year for 21 hours per week (pro-rated from £34,000 FTE).

Contract type

Part time, permanent

About the Royal Astronomical Society and its Library and Archive

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.The RAS Library and Archive collects, preserves and makes accessible the library materials and documentary heritage of the RAS and its fellows to professional standards. It enables research into astronomy and geophysics, promotes the subject's understanding for all, and maintains and propagates the corporate memory of the Society. As well as institutional and membership records dating back to 1820, the RAS archives contain the working papers of William, Caroline and John Herschel, and other leading 19th and 20th century astronomers.

Role summary

The post is a part-time role in a small team and will involve helping to manage an archive within an interesting hybrid collection of astronomy and geophysics materials. We are looking for an assistant archivist to assist the Librarian & Archivist with facilitating access to the RAS archives by supporting researchers in the reading room and dealing with enquiries. The job would also entail supporting RAS Library and Archive collection management and development by carrying out a range of collection management tasks and projects.

Main duties


To help researchers access the archives by assessing the condition of archives and manuscripts requested for consultation, delivering documents to researchers in the reading room, and providing guidance on document handling while invigilating researchers in the reading room.


To help with enquiries about the RAS collections, including requests for scanned material, via email, telephone and face-to-face.


To support the library and archive team with providing access to other parts of the collection, such as instruments and early printed books and journals, and assisting with collection management activities such as moving items to different storage locations.


To take part in preservation activities such as integrated pest monitoring, and rehousing materials in suitable enclosures.


To appraise, arrange and catalogue archives and manuscripts to recognised standards (e.g. ISAD(G)).


To undertake appropriate specific projects under the direction of the Librarian & Archivist. Future projects are likely to include digitisation, selecting and implementing a new archive cataloguing system, and developing systems for records management and preservation of born-digital records.


Person specification



A recognised postgraduate qualification in Archives & Records Management, and/or equivalent relevant work experience. 


Experience of working in an archive, library, or similar environment.


A good understanding of preservation and conservation of archives, particularly how to handle fragile materials like historical manuscripts and photographic glass plates.


Experience of cataloguing and arranging collections in accordance with ISAD(G).


Confidence in using IT, including collections management systems, spreadsheets and web browsers.


Ability to prioritise competing demands and organise workload efficiently.


Strong communication and interpersonal skills, necessary for working within a small team and providing good customer service.


The ability to work collaboratively or independently as required.


Attention to detail and accuracy.




Experience or understanding of future project areas such as digitisation, organisational records management or digital preservation.


Knowledge of or interest in astronomy and geophysics and the history of these subjects.


Working conditions

This post is primarily based onsite and is not suitable for regular remote working.  

We are open to talking about flexible start and finish times. 

This post involves manual handling (lifting, carrying, using a trolley); use of ladders; computer work; some working in confined spaces and some lone working.

Application process

Please email a CV and covering letter explaining how your experience and skills match the role description and person specification to Sian Prosser 

Closing date

Midnight on Wednesday 15 November 2023

Interview date

Wednesday 29 November 2023


Submitted by Sian Prosser on Fri, 27/10/2023 - 13:33