Hiring at NYC Public Libraries: Talking with Human Resources at NYPL and QL

by Ellen Mehling, Career Development Consultant, METRO

At the beginning of this summer, the public libraries of NYC received very good news: an increase in funding from the City of New York had been approved.

These new funds have led to a massive hiring effort at The New York Public Library (NYPL), Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and Queens Library (QL) and will lead to six-day service at every public library location.

Diana M. Smith, Assistant Director, Talent Acquisitions at Queens Library, and Terrance Neal, Director of Employee Relations and Talent Acquisition at New York Public Library, spoke with us about the hiring that is taking place right now and what aspiring public librarians should focus on when applying to these new opportunities.

Approximately how many librarians are you hiring? How many of those positions are entry-level?

Terrance Neal: This historic increase in city funding will allow NYPL to hire over 90 librarians throughout our system serving our Children, Young Adult and Adult patrons. We currently have entry-level public service positions available as well.

Diana M. Smith: Fifty-five positions, including some Assistant Community Library Manager positions (of which there are less than ten). [We are] pursuing both entry level and experienced librarians for current librarian vacancies.

What are you most looking for in applicants? Hard skills, soft skills, experience... anything else?

TN: First and foremost, librarian candidates must have their MLS Degree. We are looking for candidates that have a demonstrable interest in delivering public service to a diverse patronage, an engaging personality, high motivation, and experience working with library collections, conducting outreach to the community and creating and delivering some of the most innovative programs that one can imagine. In addition, a strong aptitude in digital literacy and education is key.

DS: Customer service driven, dynamic and engaging, experience in reference and readers advisory, programming, outreach experience and/or ideas, technology, commitment and interest in diversity and inclusive services.

What do you want to see in resumes, cover letters and/or interviews?

DS: [There is] no magic answer here. MLS/MLIS degree and some of the skills [I] listed above. Also recommend: including language skills and community service or mention of programming experience/highlights.

TN: As we all know, one's resume serves as a first impression for employers. Therefore, we look for those that have organized and concise content and articulately describe not only prior or current responsibilities, but major accomplishments and achievements in their experiences. Grammar and spelling are important; a match in experience and skills to our requirements for a specific job is essential. That being said, many of our applicants are recent graduates, so we also have a keen eye for potential.

Are there any things that applicants would be wise to avoid?

DS: Personal information. Hobbies, for example.

TN: Applying to positions which do not match the qualifications listed for a particular position. We dedicate time to crafting a list of requirements for the position that will enable a candidate to be successful in the role, so it is important to read those before applying. Otherwise, it may seem like a candidate is not thoroughly reviewing the job description and may not be truly interested in the role.

Any final words of advice for those who want to work in a NYC public library?

TN: NYPL is the premier place to work for those who are interested in librarianship and public service. Our mission is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.

Potential employees have to be invested and devoted to this mission. NYPL is so much more than books - we provide a diverse array of services and resources that extend beyond the pages of a book. As a result, we employ people whose skills and experience include customer service, education, information technology and digital services, maintenance, operations and more. We are always looking for top talent, so please visit our careers page regularly and apply - nypl.org/careers.

DS: Go for it! We are all for it at the QL. We are pursuing both local and non-local talent.


To find your next position at one of NYC's public libraries, find job postings here:

Many thanks to Mr. Neal and Ms. Smith for taking time out of their extremely busy hiring schedules to talk with us. Good luck to all the applicants and new hires!