New York Public Library

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New York Public Library Reviews

Updated August 11, 2014
Updated August 11, 2014
65 Reviews

2.4
65 Reviews
Rating Trends

Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
New York Public Library President Anthony Marx
Anthony Marx
15 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 5 reviews)

  • Not a lot of work to do in libraries, so supervisors are always watching your every move (in 7 reviews)

More Highlights

Employee Reviews

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  1. 5 people found this helpful  

    Accounting department is a joke

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

    Pros

    Good benefits; work-life balance; very flexible in terms of time off.

    Cons

    Accounting department is a big joke; a lot of hypocrisy and drama. Immature employees - can be pretty malicious. Some not qualified for their jobs.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Care more about employees.

    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 7 people found this helpful  

    Like Working on the Titanic

    • 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

    Pros

    If you enjoy working with the public, you will have every opportunity to serve all ages, races and backgrounds. You are, after all, in New York City, so you owe nothing to this institution for that, other than its location. You can just as easily work in in the Brooklyn Public Library or the Queens Public Library. There are however decent opportunities for professional development, not salaries, or career advancement, mind you, but ways to learn internally and move on to another job outside of the library.

    Cons

    Imagine working onboard the Titanic. The ship is a marvel to behold. Majestic architecture. The envy of many a more superficial eye. Yet, with a closer look, you begin to see the cracks in the steel. The many rats scurrying about beneath the floorboards. That's very much like working at NYPL. More to the point, imagining tragically hitting that iceberg, or not only hitting it, but backing up, and hitting it again. And again. And again. Public libraries are at a point in their history where they have to challenge themselves to adapt to the changing needs of their users. As more and more customers become self sufficient, what's the role of the information professional in today's world? In the mind of NYPL senior management, that role seems to be expendable. Degreed professionals are an increasing rarity in the branches. Staff who have been with the system long enough to have witnessed new management make the same mistakes previous management did are being let go left and right, and the knowledge gap is not being filled. And the library's leadership continues to position itself with a posture of arrogance and certainty that is entirely undeserved and unbecoming.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    They need to be held accountable. While they can casually make decisions that negatively impact the lives of hardworking staff without batting an eyelash, no one seems to be evaluating their performance on the level that it needs to be. The NYPL is truly a sinking ship.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 3 people found this helpful  

    Great for those fresh out of College

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

    Pros

    Great benefits, 3 weeks paid vacation, 10 holidays, 10 sick days, great medical insurance.

    Cons

    The salary is a bit too low compared to the amount of work that I needed to put in on a daily basis. Depending on what department you work for, the job can be very easy or very stressful/demanding.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Create more opportunities for growth. Promotions are extremely rare and while the library does go out of its way to commend you on your hard work, action speaks louder than words.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 5 people found this helpful  

    Looking Here? Look Elsewhere

    • 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

    Pros

    There are some great people, but not as many as there used to be, as many colleagues and friends have left for other opportunities, or have been forced to do so. You will be tasked with many things, which should broaden your skill set when you inevitably decide to look for work elsewhere. Add to your resume and then bail before they force you out.

    Cons

    One of the challenges facing libraries in the 21st century is to remain innovative as resources, services and user expectations continue to evolve. One of the key areas where innovation should be at the forefront is technology. Sadly, in recent years, the library's IT department seems to have gone backward or not moved ahead at all, leaving staff disillusioned and frustrated. The oversight of the ILS and catalog, two key components of any library's service, was moved into IT a few years ago and has stagnated. Additionally, key staff, whose knowledge and expertise were valued for years throughout the library, have been let go as incompetent managers with their finger so far from the pulse of actual library operations, continue to flourish. If you are looking at working here and have contacts within the branches, ask them who management has brought in and where they are now and who management has let go. The damage done by new hires in recent years compared to the accomplishments of the people that management let go should tell you that there's a problem. Aside from finally moving to Windows 7 a few months ago, there has not been any significant contribution by IT in quite a while. Confusing things further, the people who support the ILS are not part of technical services, which is located in Long Island City, and you are often hard pressed to know who to actually call for help. They actually launched a new ticketing system and did not explain how it worked in any way. That's one way to lower the number of support tickets!

    I work in the branches and have had my life threatened. We are there to help people, but in one of the most populated cities in the world, where any number of lunatics can visit, we work daily with no security. Yes, incidents where our lives are actually threatened are rare, but all it could take is one encounter. The library cares very little for our safety and tends to respond only after the fact when under media scrutiny.

    And there is plenty of media scrutiny. As one of the largest libraries in the world, the library is bound to attract attention. What you will see when you scratch the surface are staff leaving in droves, a lack of professionals, long term, good employees being laid off, and the library's poor handling of their plans to renovate the main location into a circulating library. This move has been criticized from all sides, including staff, but of course, we are under gag orders when it comes to the media. The library actually has a social media crisis plan. It's a public library and can't handle itself on Twitter without worry of a crisis! Libraries do not save lives. That should tell you how out of touch with its place in the community the library has become. Or maybe it's indicative of how uncertain the library is about its own decisions? When public opinion sours on them, they need people on hand to handle the spin?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Managers should be evaluated for what they bring to the table. Do they know where they work? Do they know the skills their staff possess? Do they care about anything but making themselves look good? HR staff should take a closer look at the decisions made when it comes to people managers decide to let go. The contributions of many longtime staff seem to be forgotten as new managers care little about longevity and experience and are more concerned with "big wins." While a big win is good, it helps if those in charge know what kind of game they're playing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Disapproves of CEO
  6.  

    Great opportunity to work with a staff of dedicated and smart individuals.

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

    Pros

    My supervisor was spectacular. She was very much interested in how I wanted to grow there and introduced me to relevant figures within the organization.

    Cons

    Honestly, it was one of my most pleasurable internship experiences. There are no cons that immediately come to mind.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 4 people found this helpful  

    Opportunity to work on excellent projects but positive impact can be diminished by non-comprehending managers

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

    Pros

    Colleagues who are willing to share their expertise and consider new approaches when communication is well-done. Opportunity to work with employees from many different functions and levels.

    Cons

    Employees are rewarded for performance in their narrow functions and not for collaboration - therefore, cross-functional teams take a while to establish traction for achieving organizational goals. Supervisors need training in how to supervise to get the best from their employees.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Do not use lay-offs as the major way to respond to a budget problem - a lot of historical knowledge is lost when employees are laid off just before they reach a pension plateau. When appropriate, give supervisors training in supervision. Use communication to improve employee engagement.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 7 people found this helpful  

    A Difficult Road Ahead

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

    Pros

    I have to agree with another reviewer who said that the library certainly has name recognition. It is one of the largest public libraries in the world and those iconic stone lions go a long way in terms of recognition. Over 90 locations spread out across the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, someone reading this might be able to find their niche, until the rug is pulled out from under them due to budget cuts or inept management. For someone just starting out in their career, who does not need to support a family, does not worry much about long term job security and does not mind bureaucracy, office politics, obfuscation and mismanagement, it might still be a good first job. You will deal with all manner of library users. You will handle reference questions in person and remotely. You will be exposed to a variety of library technology initiatives, some far more successful and well thought out than others. There is always value in public service and a job well done, so learn what you can here and move on quickly, on your own terms.

    Cons

    You are expendable. No matter how long you have been with the library, no matter how significant your role, in recent years, it's been a revolving door of management and strategists with a mindset moving further and further away from the mission of a library. You may enjoy the branch you work at and you may have established a relationship with that community that you took years to cultivate, but if there's a need for you elsewhere, you will be sent there with little consideration. You may have a wealth of institutional knowledge, but if budgets need to be cut and you feel that your manager has little understanding of your role, make sure your resume is up to date. Union staff have been working without a contract for years. Nonunion staff work every day as if it's their last. Human Resources staff is either oblivious or in league with management as staff morale diminishes and people are forced to leave, either on their own or at the will of detached managers. Health insurance benefits have become less appealing over the years, strategic planning efforts more misguided and more burdensome to staff and few staff believe in what they do any more. As our colleague's positions are eliminated left and right, how can we?

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    In the words of another lion, "Remember who you are." The New York Public Library was once an institution of prestige, with skilled professional staff who believed in the work they did and looked forward to come to work each day. Now, each day is seen with dread. We've lost too many good people, who have given so much to the library over the years, when the reality is that one or two managers are the ones that need to go. Whether at the frontlines, in IT, technical services or other divisions of the library, open your eyes to the reality of what's really happening and how far the library has fallen from grace.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  9. 4 people found this helpful  

    Great job for students, good pay (at least for student workers), good supervisors, upper management is another story.

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

    Pros

    good pay, flexible hours, reasonable expectations.

    Cons

    No chance for growth, low morale amongst staff, hazy long term goals, no transparency or input from staff into management decisions, low pay considering location.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay more attention to your staff's input and promote based on merit, and make decisions that are good for the library as a whole. The central library plan is a DISASTER that was undertaken with little consultation.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  10.  

    Cold and lonely occasionally, but surrounded by great books!

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

    Pros

    The knowledge that you're working for an iconic cultural and educational institution in NYC, with an incredible collection you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. I was able to attend meetings and presentations to learn about the latest developments in technical services. NYPL is great about allowing you time off for professional development.

    Cons

    Position was rather lonely--people in my department didn't seem to interact much throughout the day. Building was super-cold. Supervisor sometimes lacking in guidance and oversight for my work.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  11.  

    Great Environment and Nice group of people.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Student Page  in  Poughkeepsie, NY
    Former Employee - Student Page in Poughkeepsie, NY

    Pros

    Quiet and Great place to work! If you get your work done efficiently, they will definitely enjoy you and your work ethic.

    Cons

    Some patrons can be a little unruly, so just keep to yourself and you will be fine.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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