Employment Opportunities | Mechanics' Institute

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Employment Opportunities

Photograph of the staircase at the Mechanics' Institute building

About the Mechanics’ Institute

The Mechanics' Institute, a 501(c)(3), was founded in 1854 and is one of San Francisco's enduring arts and culture institutions. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a "vibrant cultural oasis," the Mechanics' Institute is a literary and cultural hub for the Bay Area. The Mechanics' Institute has nearly 5,000 members, serving individuals and families throughout the Bay Area, offering a magnificent library, the oldest chess club in the United States, and a full calendar of events.

Current Openings:

Library Director |



Library Director



The Mechanics’ Institute (Institute) is seeking a seasoned professional to manage a private membership library, cultivate programming, and lead a team of dedicated staff members. Founded in 1854, the Institute occupies a unique place in San Francisco history. Originally established to provide technical education for adults, the Institute has evolved into a vibrant, full-service general interest library offering a diverse range of lectures, programs, and classes, as well as a historic chess room and an events venue that support the interests of both membership and the public. The library director leads all library functions and engages on a senior leadership level at the Institute.



The library director is responsible for the management of all functions for a private library with more than 160,000 volumes, periodicals, e-resources, and other materials, serving approximately 3,500 members. The library director leads a team of professionals in delivering quality library services and maintaining excellence based on industry standards. The director oversees collection development, develops and delivers programs for diverse audiences, engages members and library patrons. In addition, the library director drives visioning and recommendations for advances in technology and library services, especially in exploring innovation while maintaining the historic legacy and member-focused culture of the Mechanics’ Institute.



  • Lead and supervise a team of 8-14 staff members, including six librarians. Oversee training and evaluation, as well as professional development planning for team members.
  • Communicate effectively and provide excellent customer service in a hands-on manner, working on the reference desk, and engaging with staff and members proactively. Respond directly to member requests and concerns professionally by phone, email, virtually, and in person.  
  • Participate in strategic planning and visioning, with particular emphasis on innovating and creating new models to engage members as the needs of the community change and evolve.
  • Manage multiple projects, set priorities, and meet deadlines for independent and Institute-wide projects requiring attention to detail and strategic analysis. Demonstrate strong partnership, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.
  • Drive the development of library service models, exploring innovative ways to engage members and library patrons through the utilization of new, emerging technologies, and interactive platforms.
  • Manage library collection development and archives, ensuring best practices and industry standards. Oversee purchases and expenditures of library-restricted bequests and an endowed book fund.
  • Participate in the Institute’s staff leadership team and collaborate on Institute-wide and inter-departmental projects.
  • Represent the Institute and develop relationships with the library, literary, and cultural communities and key stakeholders. Engage on local and national levels with professional associations such as the Bay Area Library & Information Network (BAYNET) and the Membership Library Group.
  • Recommend and help create staff development opportunities with emphasis on training opportunities to enhance communication and collaboration, change management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion awareness.  
  • Develop operational and financial plans, crafting short and long- term library goals and providing leadership and accountability with staff in accomplishing objectives and benchmarks.
  • Work collaboratively with the operations and finance departments to determine the Institute’s capital budget based on assessment of facility use and infrastructure needs.
  • Prepare written and oral reports to the Board of Trustees on a periodic basis. Contribute regularly to the Institute’s print and online publications.

This job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties, or responsibilities that are required of the library director. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change or new ones may be assigned at any time, with or without notice.



To perform this job successfully, the individual should possess the following qualifications:

  • At least three years of supervisory experience and a background in leading a library team, either managing a public library branch or private or special library.
  • A master’s degree in Library Science (MLIS) from an ALA-accredited institution.
  • Demonstrated success in managing and leading a team and overseeing a large budget (at least $1 million).
  • Excellent presentation skills and success in networking and building key relationships and partnerships. Strong verbal and written communication skills and the ability to communicate effectively throughout the Institute and with diverse constituencies.
  • Solid organizational and time management skills and an ability to perform effectively in a fast-paced working environment.
  • Proficiency in standard business software including Outlook, Excel, Word, Google, as well as virtual meeting platforms.



In addition, the following are preferred for the library director:

  • Extensive leadership and supervisory experience (more than five years with a team of at least 10 staff members).
  • A solid background in strategic planning and executive leadership, including visioning and long-term budgeting, as well as experience leading teams through organizational change.
  • Significant experience in curating and implementing innovative programming and technologies. Demonstrated success in collaborating with professional colleagues in creating, implementing, and managing joint projects such as technology improvements, building upgrades, and programming.
  • Experience in outreach, community development, networking, and fundraising support, including donor cultivation.
  • A background in building effective teams, staff development, and a thorough understanding of the importance of emotional intelligence and diversity, equity, and inclusion values.



  • Requires the ability to walk, stand, carry materials, stoop, kneel, bend at the waist, reach overhead, and climb stairs.
  • May require sitting and/or standing for long periods of time.
  • Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of the job.



  • Onsite work is performed within a standard office environment.
  • Will be required to operate basic office equipment including but not limited to computer, printers, telephone, etc.
  • The noise level in the work environment is usually at low to moderate.



  • This is a full-time, exempt position.
  • Salary is commensurate with experience.
  • Benefits include generous health-dental-vision insurance, paid vacation, holidays, and a 403b plan. Membership to Mechanics’ Institute is also provided.



To be considered for this position, please submit your cover letter and resume by Friday, June 4, 2021 to [email protected] with “Library Director” in the subject line. Please include your salary requirements (a range is fine). No phone calls please.



Mechanics' Institute promotes a culture of inclusion and seeks talented staff from diverse backgrounds. The Institute does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, color, sex (including the actual gender or perception of sex identity, appearance or behavior), sexual orientation, religion, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or any other characteristics legally protected by federal, state, or local laws and regulations.