New York Public Library

  www.nypl.org
  www.nypl.org

New York Public Library Reviews

Updated December 11, 2014
Updated December 11, 2014
74 Reviews
2.3
74 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx
Anthony Marx
21 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • Good benefits, lots of lateral and upward moving potential (in 5 reviews)

  • A great place to work and improve customer service skills within a non-sales role (in 4 reviews)


Cons
  • Very low pay, management is reluctant to offer raises but the keep promising raises to keep you around (in 6 reviews)

  • But when you look at some of the people the library has let go compared to those they've kept on, the way they're going about it becomes questionable (in 3 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date
  1.  

    Great internship, nice coworkers. Treated me with respect which people don't usually give teenagers.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Tutor in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Tutor in New York, NY

    I worked at New York Public Library as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good hours, break room, clean bathrooms.

    Cons

    Not a guaranteed position, no other job offers once internship ended.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  2.  

    It's a OK place to work

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Technical Staff in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Technical Staff in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    job security -- though there was a massive layoff years ago, it's rare.
    no backstabbing
    very laid back

    Cons

    most coworkers here don't seem very motivated (duh)
    nice, but not very interesting, coworkers

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Could Be Worse. You Could Be Unemployed.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Librarian in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Librarian in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    One Sunday morning this October, as we do every year, several staff got together as a team to represent the library in the Making Strides Walk in Central Park. This is one of the best things about the library – seeing that there are staff willing to come together outside of the office and connect for a cause that is meaningful to them. Still, this event was not without a sour note. Someone who’d walked with us for several years, and had helped rally our library team and many other walkers in a pretty special way, was missing this year. That this person was let go for reasons that were no fault of his own several months earlier is still bothersome to more than a few of us.

    I started working for the library as a page years ago. I continued through high school and came back after college to a more significant position that benefitted from my education and experience. There are a lot of opportunities for work here (not sure if that’s a pro - I guess people are leaving a lot?). Despite the many, many problems, this is one of NYC’s great cultural institutions. Millions of people visit and benefit from the library every year. Not just the one everyone knows, but my branch in the far north of Manhattan. Random branches on Staten Island and in the south Bronx. We have many dedicated frontline staff (and back office staff) who work their butts off to make the library as well as we can. Just sometimes, it feels like it’s much harder than it should be.

    Cons

    Ours is a very image-conscious institution. Much more so than you’d expect a library to be. How so? Well, when people are laid off and paid off, they are forced to sign extensive agreements that they won’t say anything negative about the library. The constantly changing strategic plan is clear as mud, which makes it impossible for our marketing and public relations staff to keep a firm handle on our trajectory. They themselves can only be protective of the library’s general image and they take that directive to a ridiculous degree – if a press release is shared with a local news blog, like gothamist.com, see how negative comments tend to disappear, as if they’re that afraid of criticism. This is not behavior that you’d expect from an institution that exists to promote concepts like information sharing and intellectual freedom.

    And the library is hardly immune to criticism. Some years ago, they decided to close the popular Donnell Library Center. Not learning from that, they made plans to gut our flagship library on 42nd Street without involving the public and that didn’t exactly happen as planned. When things go bad with these big plans, management points fingers and watching who survives is like watching gladiatorial combat mixed with a lot of dumb luck and butt kissing. Unfortunately, it’s usually not upper management that is being let go. We have a bloated structure of upper management, with so many directors and associate directors and a shortage of actual librarians, it’s sometimes difficult to remember what we do for a living. I thought about getting my library degree years ago, but realized I didn’t need it if I was going to stay here – the return on investment would be relatively minimal.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Be genuine. Engage us and be genuine. Stop getting rid of good people in the middle and below of the staff and start looking at the real problems – their bosses. Problem areas like Sites and Technology are especially in need of review.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5.  

    Volunteer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Volunteer in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Volunteer in New York, NY

    I worked at New York Public Library part-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very hands on, and a great quiet place to work. Sort of pleasant. Definitely makes me have a personal growth.

    Cons

    Work-life balance, low compensation, and also some former co-workers were a bit rude to me when I was employed.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    Work Here At Your Peril

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    The library had to have earned its once respectable reputation somehow. Our collections are exceptional - those in the research libraries that are curated and are allowed to flourish and are in no danger of being auctioned off. Our circulating collections are typical and essentially cookie cutter. We have the full range of popular materials you'd expect from a major urban library, shaped by a largely floating collection, which has all the benefits and drawbacks commonly experienced by libraries that float.

    We have over 90 locations, spread throughout the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Some might argue that we've spread ourselves too thin when there are branches within just a couple of blocks from each other, but in a city where there is a Subway or McDonald's on every other block, it doesn't hurt to have a library within almost the same range.

    Cons

    This institution has truly become a rudderless boat, caught in a violent storm of its own design. I hear coworkers that have been here longer than I have talk about how things used to be - the "good old days," and while I envy their memory, I can't imagine a culture that wasn't so bloated by incompetent management and misdirection, so bogged down by the weight of its own self-importance, so seemingly focused on going nowhere in particular.

    We have a strategy division that seems to make things up as they go. Efforts on multiple initiatives have failed and have even been shameful in some cases.

    Our technology staff is strong at its roots, but its leadership has been traditionally poor. Consistently, they work as if they have something to prove. They rarely succeed and they alienate and upset more staff than they win over. After the way we have seen them treat some of their own staff, we can't trust them.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    There are a few strong leaders, but it's like they're afraid to step out and do anything that might get them noticed. This is not the culture where you want to be noticed, as being noticed puts your career in jeopardy. Better to collect your paycheck, hope you don't offend anyone too much and hope you make it long enough to collect your 20 years, unlike some of your colleagues.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    Faded Luster

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in Bronx, NY
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in Bronx, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    The library, more than the classroom, more than anything Google can provide, allows you to learn things in a truly tactile way. When done properly (which is not always the case here, but in general), libraries can offer innovative services that enrich the lives of their users, exposing them to things they may not see anywhere else. And for free. At NYPL, we do an exceptional job with programming, providing free access to computers, and the books, movies and music in our collections are virtually unrivaled, whether its something you can take home or download.

    When things are bad, which they often are, our staff do what they can to make the best of it. That's the most admirable thing about working here and it owes nothing to the library itself. It's just the people we work with.

    Cons

    Scratch the surface, however, and the luster begins to fade. Quickly. The library lost another of its more dedicated staff this week. Actually, we lost more than one, but only one was thrown a farewell party. The others were quietly dismissed through no fault of their own in what has become something of a pattern at this place. It's getting to the point where you dread checking your e-mail. Will you hear about a coworker or a friend being dismissed? Worse, will it be your turn? You can work here 10, 15 or 20 years, you can be an exceptional employee. You can work 14 hour days and on weekends. You can practically be the library's mascot, but if someone new to the table comes along and decides you're expendable, that's all it takes to send you packing.

    You can't blame the ones who want to leave. New management now has us "road mapping," which is just another phrase for buying time because they don't know what they're doing either. So far, it's just involved getting rid of a number of talented and respected staff and leaving us with no succession plan and a lot of confusion.

    To a degree, it's understandable. This is a public library and times can be tough. We're at the mercy of multiple funding sources and budgets are often tight. But when you look at some of the people the library has let go compared to those they've kept on, the way they're going about it becomes questionable. What's worse, is that some of these people actually seem to relish their role of villain - they enjoy letting staff go. It's become that kind of work environment where no one feels safe and there's no measure of job security. Those of us in the union are somewhat happy for that level of security and hope that our non union friends have their day of reckoning, but it seems less and less likely. These lousy managers continue to screw up, and just when you think they can't screw up any more, their boss leaves and they basically have a clean slate with whatever new person is on board. Since the library doesn't like keeping anyone around with any memory, since most of the memories would be bad ones, that's the way things seem to work around here.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Senior managers? There really is no such thing. They bring new people in constantly, so the most senior manager has probably been in his or her position for about 5 years. At any rate, they should all be ashamed of themselves. The best staff are either pushed out or leaving on their own and what the library is left with stay because they have no choice, want their pension or are too lazy to look elsewhere. My advice, to anyone reading this would be to not work here. Libraries are wonderful places to work and there is still a future in them as physical institutions. Find one in a place you want to live. Talk to the staff there and get a true sense of the culture. This place is contaminated. Ebola for employees.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  8. 1 person found this helpful  

    Great Entry Level and Experience

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Library Technical Assistant in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Library Technical Assistant in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    The New York Public Library offers great experience in a wide variety of fields. Its not just library science. In my ten years at the library I have gained expert experience audio/visual equipment, customer service and management.

    Cons

    Some of the challenges working at the library one must remember it is a non-profit institution that relies on outside sources for funding. Budgets are tight as are salaries.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Library Assistant

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at New York Public Library part-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    The people I worked with with were great, friendly environment and lots of activities. The work was repetitive but that was to be expected. Overall though, I had a decent experience!

    Cons

    The worst part was the pay and little room for promotion. It seems like everyone was resigned to make a minimal salary and had no expectation for that to change.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    They need to show appreciation to their staff! I know NYPL has limited funding but that doesn't mean you can't do something to boast morale and give some kind of reward for a job well done. Their is a lot of discontent in the branch libraries with the downtown management, and that shouldn't be the case.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10. 2 people found this helpful  

    Bleak Future

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Senior Librarian in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Looking over a lot of these reviews, it is hard not to sound redundant. You will want to enjoy working here. You will really try. After all, you saw this library in the movies. Ghostbusters. Spider-Man. Sex and the City 2. But the movies are the movies and the reality is that maybe half a dozen staff here have an actual clue and the rest of them have the rank of Associate Director or higher.

    I became a librarian because I wanted to help people. I have a love of reading like most in my profession, but what I truly enjoy is helping others make that connection to the information that they need. Can I do that at NYPL? Absolutely! Is it worth the aggravation and low pay? Not really.

    I have worked at the library for a long time now. We have branches in 3 boroughs of NYC (the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island - not at all confusing to outsiders (or even most insiders) as to why Brooklyn and Queens are not included!) four research libraries, and a technical services center in Queens. Staff I have worked with over the years have come from so many different places with so many different experiences and have, until recent years, brought so much to the table.

    Things change.

    Cons

    The library used to actively recruit professional staff - newly minted librarians, fresh out of graduate school. Now, you'll be lucky to visit a neighborhood branch and find a staff member who has a library degree. It's not even a requirement of the Branch Manager to have one, let alone anyone who might staff a public service desk.

    People who excel at their jobs are dismissed by people who have no idea what they're doing to justify their own positions. It has become pretty much the norm at certain levels of the organization, especially in Technology, and all we can do is sigh and wish these people well when we lose them. It's become a hostile and vindictive atmosphere and very sad, because you will see a lot of good people leave over time, whether for better money elsewhere or because they have been laid off by some incompetent higher up.

    The situation is little better where we are in the branches. We are held accountable for everything while the patrons are given free reign. The makeup of senior management is about as stable as the fault lines in California and none of them want to make decisions, because they fear they will make the wrong one and be next to be ushered to the Exit sign.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I can't think of anything that doesn't make me upset. Management doesn't listen. Or they do, but then either because of good intentions gone to bumbling execution, or because they never really meant to do anything in the first place, nothing useful ever comes of any change initiatives. This place has been spinning its wheels for a decade. And going nowhere. My advice to anyone thinking about working here would be to steer clear.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent Literary Programming

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Program Assistant in New York, NY

    I have been working at New York Public Library part-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    great supervisor; organized program; great colleagues.
    the work was about the children, in that factor it was GREAT.
    Wonderful boss who knew how to balance her role with the staff.
    part time benefits were good

    Cons

    seasonal position, not many hours for part time staff; 2-4 weeks off between sessions created issues for returning staff. it was unexpected and not communicated during interview process; lots of office politics.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Consider adding this as a permanent part time role for seasoned assistants to support the program. Make it possible for part time staff to be promoted within the organization.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

New York Public Library Photos

Work at New York Public Library? Share Your Experiences

New York Public Library

 
Click to Rate
or

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.