Penland School of Craft Archivist

Jane Kessler Memorial Archives

Position Summary

The archivist is responsible for the evolution, oversight and management of the Jane Kessler Memorial Archives, which collects and manages inactive records of enduring value that relate to the history of Penland School of Craft. The records document the evolution of the institution, its programs and activities as well as key contributions of artists, trustees and personnel who have shaped the institution. Carefully selected artifacts directly related to the school’s programs are also collected. Housed within the archives are photographs, correspondence, account books, trustee minutes, news clippings, publications, oral histories, architectural drawings, objects and ephemera representing Penland School of Craft’s history from its inception in the 1920s to the present.

In addition to maintaining the archives, the Archivist will manage a National Endowment for the Humanities grant-supported project that focuses on preserving at-risk audio-visual materials through digitization. This will include planning and managing the digitization of those materials by others, the implementation of a digital asset management system (DAM) for the archives, and the transfer of digital media files to the DAM. All project materials will be catalogued into the archives’ existing ArchivesSpace database and records will be linked with the DAM. Planning for sustainable solutions for the management and preservation of digital files, ensuring access to these resources, and documentation of the project itself, are critical components of this work.

This is a two-year, full-time, exempt, benefits-eligible position reporting to the Executive Director.


Policies and Procedures

  • Works within Penland’s approval processes to establish and update collections policies using best practices of the Society of American Archivists.
  • Works within the parameters of the school’s collections policies to develop and manage the collections.
  • Maintains an emergency preparedness and recovery plan for the archives.
  • Manages an archives access and use plan, duplication and photography request forms, and a publication permission policy.
  • Adheres by the retention and destruction policy for the school’s social media platforms in coordination with the communications manager; integrates the archives policy with the school’s overall retention and destruction policy.
  • Follows the board-approved gift acceptance policy.
  • Communicates the policies and procedures to interested parties as needed.
  • Develops and manages the archives annual capital and operating budget.
  • Follows established procedures for requesting purchase authorizations, placing orders for materials, supplies, equipment for the archives and for submitting invoices and bills as soon as possible. Insures that all orders are placed, received, and accounted for properly.

Accession and record management

  • Handles requests and processes the acquisition of materials to the archives through gifts from individuals, transfers from Penland offices, or purchase.
  • Manages the records/personal papers of key institutional leaders (executive directors, trustee chairs, program directors, long-time affiliated artists, etc.)
  • Identifies out-of-scope materials and handles the de-accessioning of material as needed; thoroughly documenting the process and following all established procedures.
  • Catalogues all materials accepted into the archives; arranges, describes, and stores all materials.
  • Keeps the staff and trustees informed of acquisitions.

National Endowment for the Humanities Project Management

  • Plans for the effective preservation, access, and security of the collections as a whole and specifically develops and implements policies and procedures for the digital collections.
  • Works with an external vendor to schedule and monitor digitization of 16mm film, and multiple formats of analog video and audio tapes.
  • Arranges for the disposition of the resulting digital files.
  • Arranges and describes simple and complex archival collections comprised mainly of visual resources, in accordance with accepted professional standards.
  • Manages ingest, storage, and retrieval of digital assets; establishes protocols for downloading, renaming, backing up, rating, grouping, optimizing, maintaining and exporting digital media files
  • Familiarity with metadata schemas specific to visual resources and media files
  • Consults with the school’s IT Manager and Communications Manager to ensure open communications, systems compatibility, and to establish high standards that ensure the successful transfer and secure storage of all project materials
  • The funding for this project has been secured through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the project archivist will be responsible for maintaining accurate records of project activities and outcomes that will be included in periodic reports to NEH.


  • Serves as the point of reference as appropriate for questions or needs from the staff, students, instructors, and the general public.
  • Provides reference checks for presentations and published works related to the school’s history.
  • Assists with historical information in support of grant writing and fundraising as requested.

Promotion of School History

  • Serves as school historian when questions arise related to the school’s history.
  • Represents the institution at professional meetings.

Other duties as assigned.

Educations & Experience

  • Required: Formal training and professional experience–in a museum, library or archives setting—with digital archives and digital preservation
  • Preferred: Master’s Degree or Master’s level certificate in archives from an accredited program, with at least one year of professional experience directly related to the described responsibilities. Will consider applicants with Bachelor’s level training in museum studies, material culture, public history, digital collections, or related fields, with significant professional experience directly related to the described responsibilities


    • Background and interest in art/craft/design history, or material culture
    • Demonstrated experience with digital visual resource collections
    • Proficiency using ArchivesSpace or other collections management software
    • Experience implementing DAMs and using digital curation tools
    • Ability to work independently and as part of a small team
    • Excellent organizational, writing, and communication skills
    • Ability to bend, reach, and lift boxes or volumes weighing up to 40 lbs

Physical Requirements

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to sit and to work at a computer. The employee is frequently required to use hands to finger, handle, or touch objects, tools, or controls and to talk fluently and to hear. The employee is frequently required to stand and to walk in areas of the campus with uneven terrain. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move objects weighing up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision.


Compensation discussions are a part of the interviewing process. Employees at Penland enjoy competitive pay, engaging benefits and a unique work environment of creative inquiry. We have a variety of seasonal, part-time and full-time positions. Classes are offered in the spring, summer and fall with a short winter residency in January.

To Apply

Penland School of Craft believes that diversity and inclusion are essential to fulfilling its mission. We want to inspire and nurture the human spirit, and we value the perspectives and contributions of all people. We want the Penland experience to include varied ideas, world views, and personal characteristics. Penland is committed to being a community that welcomes and respects everyone regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, race, religion, philosophical or political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nationality, geographic origin, and socioeconomic status. We are committed to providing an environment free of discrimination.

The position will remain open until filled, however the initial review of applications will consist of applications received by February 14, 2020. Send cover letter addressing relevant experience and interest in the position and resume including the contact information for 3 references formatted into one pdf document to Rachel Smith, Executive Assistant, at

Updated: January 2020