President, Chicago, IL



The Newberry, open to the public without charge, is an independent research library dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge, especially in the humanities. The Newberry acquires and preserves a broad array of special collections research materials relating to the civilizations of Europe and the Americas. It promotes and provides for their effective use, fostering research, teaching, publication, and life-long learning, as well as civic engagement. In service to its diverse community, the Newberry encourages intellectual pursuit in an atmosphere of free inquiry and sustains the highest standards of collection preservation, bibliographic access, and reader services.


The Newberry Library, founded in 1887 as a bequest from Walter L. Newberry, one of Chicago's earliest philanthropists and cultural leaders, is a world-renowned independent research library serving scholars and the general public alike. The Newberry shares its vast collections of rare books, maps, personal papers, and other documents to stimulate intellectual research and public engagement. The Newberry makes its collections freely available to anyone over 14 years old a level of access that is unique among the Newberry's peer institutions.

Early in its history, the Newberry purchased collections that set the template for future acquisitions: comprehensive collections of original sources that would offer opportunities for study and in-depth research in designated areas. After an 1897 cooperative agreement with the John Crerar Library in Chicago and the Chicago Public Library to avoid duplication, the Newberry began to focus on the humanities.

The Library, which currently houses more than 1.6 million books, 5 million manuscript pages, and 500,000 historic maps, is renowned for its collections. Core collection strengths broadly include: maps, travel, and exploration; music from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century; medieval, Renaissance, and early modern studies; early contact between colonizers and Indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere; the personal papers of twentieth-century American journalists; railroad archives; the history of printing; genealogy; and Chicago and Midwestern history. Fellowships and a vibrant array of scholarly programs actively contribute to the work of the Library, particularly in the fields of its research centers: Renaissance Studies, the History of Cartography, and American Indian and Indigenous Studies; and in its Chicago Studies Program.

In addition to supporting and encouraging research, the Library continues to increase its focus on sharing its resources with the greater Chicago community, facilitating moments of discovery for users not only in its reading rooms but also in its lecture halls, exhibition galleries, adult education classes, and digital resources. In recent years, the Library's digital collections have grown substantially, with more than one million page views annually, and interactive digital resources that engage users at all levels. Its free public programming has grown to include lectures, panel discussions, historical reenactments, debates, music, and dance performances all drawing from its collections and attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. The Newberry also serves area K-12 teachers and students through a variety of content-based education programs.

The Library recently completed a $12.7 million renovation of its first floor and lower level. The remodeled area represents a continuation of the Newberry ethos fostering a welcoming atmosphere and opportunities for visitors to engage with Library staff and collections. The renovations include spaces featuring state-of-the-art climate control and video equipment, allowing for rare and fragile materials to be used and shared broadly.

Located in Chicago's Gold Coast north of the Chicago River, the Library has an endowment of $79 million and an annual operating budget of $12 million. It has a 34-member Board and a staff of 108 dedicated professionals.

With its recently completed renovation, engaged Trustees, and a highly qualified staff, the Newberry is eager to attract an ever-growing audience to the cultural heritage held in its collection, encourage ongoing engagement with the humanities, and expand its profile as a destination for educational and cultural enrichment in Chicago and beyond.


The President serves as the institution's Chief Executive Officer and Librarian. Working with and reporting to the Board of Trustees, the President drives the formulation of the Library's vision, goals, and direction. He or she values serious scholarship and intellectual thought, and is able to articulate a compelling vision for the future of a collections-based research library that desires to expand its impact broadly throughout the Chicago community and beyond. The President is a successful leader, accustomed to setting a tone of collaboration and managing a strong professional team. He or she projects energy and enthusiasm qualities necessary to extend the Library's reach, resources, and position among the cultural institutions of Chicago.


The new President will:

  • Serve as the chief steward of the Newberry's world-renowned collections, working with staff and donors to enhance support for collection development, usage, conservation, and accessibility;
  • Champion the Newberry both nationally and in Chicago; be a highly visible and articulate spokesperson, serving as a powerful voice for the humanities;
  • Provide leadership for strong fundraising initiatives including capital investment, endowment growth, annual operating support, and special projects; participate actively with the staff on key fundraising initiatives;
  • Cultivate relationships that will continue to increase the Newberry's profile and stature; maintain close relationships with library, academic, and cultural communities; deepen relationships with elected officials, civic leaders, and media in order to grow support for the institution;
  • Maintain a comprehensive grasp of the budget and other key financial metrics to ensure that finances are managed prudently;
  • Spearhead initiatives to review the Library's technology needs including day-to-day operations, website, and digitization, and ensure timely execution of recommendations;
  • Partner with the Board to recruit and engage a strong, diverse, and committed Board of Trustees representative of the community it serves; increase diversity of staff and audiences;
  • Manage, motivate, empower, and evaluate staff, maintaining a productive, supportive, and collaborative working environment; attract and retain employees of high quality.


The President will bring:

  • A record as an inspirational leader able to articulate a mission with conviction and clarity; capability to build support among both internal and external constituencies;
  • Evidence of visionary leadership and management in the academic, nonprofit, or business sectors; recognized experience and expertise that relate to the mission and operations of the Newberry;
  • Proven success in raising funds, as well as cultivating and soliciting new donors;
  • Good business acumen; ability to apply management experience to the institution's practices; ability to build new relationships and collaborations as a way to leverage assets and expand reach;
  • Experience working with a Board;
  • Experience with cultural heritage institutions;
  • The capability to balance respect for a distinguished history and traditional practices with the need for creativity, innovation, and growth;
  • Skill as an articulate and persuasive communicator in both spoken and written expression to a variety of audiences;
  • An advanced degree, with a humanities PhD preferred.


The new President will be a dynamic leader with:

  • A passion for the Newberry's mission and an appreciation for the humanities and intellectual pursuits;
  • The ability to create and respond to new opportunities;
  • An inclusive style with respect to empowering the staff and engaging the Board;
  • A commitment to diversity;
  • Excellent problem-solving skills;
  • A persuasive, motivating management style; the ability to achieve consensus and make decisions while respecting the need for transparency; the ability to be firm, fair, and flexible as needed;
  • An eagerness to devote considerable time to raising financial resources;
  • Ethical values that impart stability, trust, integrity, and common sense; the ability to motivate others;
  • A high level of comfort in the academic, business, and cultural environments.

The Newberry Library is committed to diversity and inclusion. As an equal opportunity employer, the Library does not discriminate in hiring or employment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local law.

For additional information, please visit https://www.newberry.org/.

Applications,including cover letters and r sum s,and nominations should be sent to the attention of Susan Meade and Jane Donaldson at Newberry@PhillipsOppenheim.com.