Jobs

Background

About us

The Library Innovation Lab is a team of librarians, programmers, artists, and lawyers with a broad mission: to build open-source tools and services for open knowledge, available to everyone and in the public interest, that solve emerging information problems from the perspective of the world's largest academic law library. We currently support three long-running services ( Perma, H2O Open Casebook, and the Caselaw Access Project ) as well as a range of shorter-term experiments. On the tech side, we work most often with Django, Vue, and Postgres.

Why work with us?

LIL offers a rare mix of contemplation and action: we are a small software lab within one of the world’s largest law libraries, with a mission both to try new things and to think deeply about what ought to exist for the long haul. Our mission offers a range of benefits for staff:

  • Job stability and support. While we maintain the creative atmosphere and flexibility of a small innovation lab, we're backed by an established institution with strong benefits and support for employees.
  • Room to pursue your research agenda. We are located at the Harvard Law School Library and share a kitchen with the Berkman Klein Center and metaLAB. Going to events, having conversations, developing your scholarly perspective, and exploring it through creative projects are encouraged. We will specifically prioritize these things at the cost of shipping the next feature.
  • Set your own pace. We are a small, self-directed group that depends on internal motivation rather than externally imposed crunch time.
  • Build open source. All of our projects are open source and otherwise designed to maximize the public benefit of our work.
  • Work on stuff that matters. The projects we make are measured by how they help people in the long term.

Location

We are based in a newly-renovated space on the Harvard Law School campus. Our full-time staff positions are hybrid/in-person; we typically aim to be in the office Tuesday through Thursday. Contractor and fellowship positions may be remote by individual arrangement.

Equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging and antiracism

The work and well-being of the Lab are strengthened profoundly by the diversity of our community and our differences in background, culture, experience, racial identity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We actively seek and welcome applications from Black and Indigenous people and people of color; women and non-binary people; the LGBTQ+ community; and people with disabilities; as well as applications from researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of disciplines, methods, and life experiences.

Staff positions

Product and Research Director

The Product and Research Director will report to — and serve as a thought partner to — the Lab’s director. The role’s primary duty is to identify, prioritize, and allocate resources among LIL’s many ongoing projects and opportunities. This person will have a lead role in designing our systems for moving projects from early experiments to completion and for evaluating success.

To apply: Application form. In addition to Harvard's standard application form, please provide a short cover letter explaining how your career trajectory and interests align with our work and mission.


Engineering Manager

The Engineering Manager will lead LIL’s team of software developers, devops engineers, technologists in residence, and contractors. Our engineering manager has a key role not just in ensuring that technical staff have a sense of direction about their priorities and impact on our core projects, but also in protecting their time and space to think creatively, so they have meaningful room to pursue independent research and projects related to our mission.

To apply: Application form. In addition to Harvard's standard application form, please provide a short cover letter explaining how your career trajectory and interests align with our work and mission.


Senior UX Designer/Researcher

The Senior UX Designer/Researcher will work with our product and engineering teams to design and improve LIL’s user experiences. This person will be responsible for conducting user research, creating wireframes, prototypes, and high-fidelity designs, and testing them with users to gather feedback. As a small innovation team, we will also look to this person to set the Lab’s tone regarding creativity and exploration, both as a matter of aesthetics and practice.

To apply: Application form. In addition to Harvard's standard application form, please provide a short cover letter explaining how your career trajectory and interests align with our work and mission.


User Support Coordinator

The Support Coordinator works with the Lab’s product managers to support our users and collaborators, often through email, Zoom, Slack, or by writing website documentation and outreach material. This position does not require specific technical experience, but does require someone who can quickly learn technical detail and clearly communicate between our technical team and users. While open to anyone, in the past this has been a strong opportunity for recent library school graduates who plan to go on to technical library positions.

To apply: Application form. In addition to Harvard's standard application form, please provide a short cover letter explaining how your career trajectory and interests align with our work and mission.

Research Positions

Decentralized Storage Researcher—academic or contract position

The Harvard Library Innovation Lab seeks paid, contract researchers with substantial technical skills to help us explore and document cutting-edge data storage platforms. At the core of this research is the question: how can important data be stored for the long term with the least cost and risk?

Who should apply? This is a great project for any technologist who enjoys exploring open source repos and testing how they perform in real world conditions; it may be particularly interesting to academic technologists or open source hackers looking for an excuse to learn more about peer-to-peer data storage and other strategies for long-term cultural preservation.

What is the project? The project will include:

  • Selecting a range of data storage technologies for analysis, including API storage providers like Amazon S3, established data archival platforms like LOCKSS, emerging data replication protocols like IPFS and hypercore, and emerging data storage offerings like Sia, Storj, and Filecoin.
  • Selecting analysis criteria for the selected technologies, such as cost, complexity, durability, and security.
  • Testing the selected technologies with data of substantial size and cultural value (such as the data collected by our Perma.cc and Case.law projects) to understand their real world performance and user experience.
  • Publishing a comparison of the selected technologies both as text and as code for others to build on. Everything built at our Lab will be released as open source.

Work location and funding Work may be in person at Harvard Law School or remote. Funding is available for hourly contracts or academic stipends depending on the nature of your interest.

To apply: Email lil@law.harvard.edu with a résumé and brief statement of interest to get started.


Research Assistant / Student Fellow

Students: thinking about legal tech, civic tech, or cultural memory? We have options:

Research Assistants: We're seeking paid research assistants with a web development background to help us build open source legal tech and civic tech tools like Perma.cc, Opencasebook.org, and Case.law.

Student Fellows: We offer student fellow positions to provide mentorship to students working on independent projects in the field of open knowledge (legal tech, civic tech, library tech, online governance, etc.). Depending on subject matter and professor relationships, student fellow positions may or may not offer stipend or credit; please reach out to us to discuss.

Eligibility: Positions are open to students inside and outside Harvard, with a preference for students at Harvard Law School and Harvard University.

To apply: send a statement of interest to lil@law.harvard.edu.


Fellows

The Library Innovation Lab offers a small number of stipended fellowships to people developing tools and communities to explore the future of open knowledge.

Who should apply: Fellowships are a particularly good fit for people— inside and outside academia!—with a track record of building tools or leading communities that advance the conversation about cultural knowledge and the internet, and who need financial and institutional support to take their next steps.

By "cultural knowledge and the internet," we mean questions like: how do established cultural memory institutions adapt to the internet age and help societies reconstruct and remember their history? How do societies govern themselves, coordinate solutions to problems, and decide who to trust in the evolving information landscape? How do we preserve today's knowledge for future generations?

In short, who are we, how did we get here, and where are we going? And who is "we" in a networked world anyway?

By "track record of building tools or leading communities," we mean that we want to see your theory of change and how it operates in the world: how have your beliefs about who we are, where we came from, and where we're going been translated to action, whether in code, in writing, or in community organizing, and what are your next steps?

More concretely, strong fellowship applicants could include:

  • Coders building software to help small institutions or communities run and preserve their own digital archives
  • Librarians leading movements for internet access and digital literacy
  • Archivists developing novel practices to empower communities not benefitting from traditional archives
  • Artists and authors helping to explore and translate the cultural impact of new technologies

Fellowship details: Fellowships are individually arranged on a rolling basis, and may be any length from a week to a year. Fellows are expected to visit Harvard in person for a portion of the appointment, but need not be present full time. Stipends are available to support full-time work, but may be prorated depending on time commitment and other sources of support.

To apply: Email a résumé and statement of interest to lil@law.harvard.edu.