How to Become a Librarian in New York

New York Librarian Education

Librarians in New York are accustomed to being called upon to do various things, and most realize that they must be well-rounded individuals with a broad knowledge base in order to effectively function in their positions. In 2018, however, The New York Times published an article stating that librarians were now becoming first responders. Public librarians across the state were being trained to spot signs of overdose in library patrons and administer naloxone when necessary to save lives. In many of the state’s public libraries, librarians now patrol the stacks and bathrooms and check on anyone who might appear to be sleeping, just to make sure they have not overdosed. 

In 2017, Democrat Representative Sean Patrick Maloney of New York introduced the Lifesaving Librarians Act in Washington, following reports of 88 overdose deaths in his district the prior year. The act, which has not been passed into legislation yet, would give library staff training through a federal grant and give libraries naloxone kits to keep in stock. New York’s public libraries, in particular, are open to the public and have welcomed homeless people for years, and therefore their librarians may have more first-hand knowledge of the opioid epidemic than other libraries nationwide. 

The executive director of the New York Library Association notes that librarians have always been ready to step up and meet the needs of the community. This is just one more way in which librarians are helping the public. If you think that becoming a New York librarian sounds like a challenging, yet rewarding, way to make a living, keep reading.

What Does a New York Librarian Do?

The job of a New York librarian is unique, with each person’s duties depending upon the job setting and any specializations involved. There are some duties that are usually common to most professional librarians in New York, including:

  • Providing customer service in an enthusiastic manner
  • Providing reference services to library patrons
  • Heling patrons locate materials
  • Assisting patrons with basic and complex reference questions
  • Managing phone calls, online requests and in-person requests simultaneously
  • Communicating effectively with others
  • Having excellent organizational skills
  • Promoting the library’s services and programming
  • Participating in and/or leading library programs
  • Developing and implementing programs
  • Performing community outreach services
  • Working in collections, organizing, retiring, and adding materials as necessary

What Education is Necessary to Become a Librarian in New York?

All professional librarians in New York state who are employed in a public, free association or Indian library must hold an active public librarian certificate. This requires that you complete a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Library Science (MLS) program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). This program may be housed within any state, or online. New York currently has seven accredited programs. 

If you want to work as a school librarian in New York, there are a variety of pathways available to do so, depending upon your level of education and experience. You may complete an approved teacher preparation program, an alternative teacher preparation program, have your credentials evaluated, or possess a National Board Teaching Certificate in Library Media. 

The way that most people become school librarians in New York is to first earn a bachelor’s degree, then enroll in an accredited MLIS/MLS graduate program at a college or university leading to a first teaching certificate. 

What Certification is Necessary for New York Librarians?

New York public librarians must become state certified in order to work. You must have a MLIS or MLS degree and then apply online for certification. Certification costs $5, and checks, along with official transcripts, must be mailed to: Public Librarian Certification, The State Education Department, Division of Library Development, Cultural Education Center, Room 10B41, Albany, NY 12230. After you are certified, you must complete 60 hours of professional development every five years to renew your certificate.

School librarian candidates in New York must also be certified. After earning a MLIS/MLS degree, they must accrue three years of full-time classroom teaching and pass a Content Specialty Test for library media specialists. 

Where Do Librarians Work in New York?

New York’s public library systems serve over 19 million people across the state, including 755 public libraries with over 1100 outlets, per the New York State Library. They also operate more than 300 neighborhood branches, 11 bookmobiles, and over 100 community outlets. Public library systems in New York may be consolidated, federated or cooperative. 

School librarians in New York work in the state’s 4236 school libraries, serving 3,200,000 public and private school students, according to the School Library Systems Association (SLSA). 

Librarians in New York may also work in universities, law libraries, medical libraries, archival centers, museums, private companies, and in many other sites. 

What Do Librarians Earn in New York?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that New York has the highest employment level of librarians of any state. As of May 2021, there are 11,620 librarians employed across New York state. New York also offers librarians the fifth-highest salary, at $36.69 hourly mean wage and $76,310 annual mean wage. The New York/Newark/Jersey City metropolitan area pays its librarians an even higher salary of $38.72 per hour and $80,540 annually. Librarians working in other areas of New York earn the following salaries:

AreaHourly mean wageAnnual mean wage
Buffalo/Cheektowaga/Niagara Falls$29.20$60,740
Capital/Northern nonmetro$28.98$60,280
Central East nonmetro$27.63$57,470
Watertown/Fort Drum$27.54$57,290
Southwest nonmetro$26.94$56,030
Glens Falls$26.54$55,200

Job Prospects for New York Librarians 

In a state the size of New York that serves so many people, librarian jobs of all types are usually abundant. A few examples of jobs for librarians that were posted as of November 2022 include:

  • Informationist – Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library, Columbia Medical Center, New York City
    • Salary: $73,000-$75,000 annually
    • Must hold MLS/MLIS degree
    • Experience with or understanding of instructional design methodologies and technologies preferred
    • Understanding of trends in health professions preferred
  • Senior Librarian – Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision, Auburn
    • Salary: $74,589-$82,036 annually
    • Must hold MLS/MLIS degree
    • Two years of post-degree professional librarian experience required 
  • Legislative Librarian – New York Senate, Albany
    • Salary: $70,000 annually
    • Must hold MLS/MLIS degree
    • Experience in law libraries preferred
    • Law degree preferred
    • Familiarity with Westlaw, Lexis and HeinOnline preferred
  • Electronic Resources Librarian for Acquisitions – Binghamton University, Binghamton
    • Salary: $54,100-$68,500 annually
    • Must hold MLS/MLIS degree
    • Direct experience with electronic resource management in academic library required 
  • Special Collections Catalog Librarian – New York Botanical Garden, Bronx
    • Salary: $65,000 annually
    • Must hold MLS/MLIS degree
    • Experience in a research library environment required
    • Three years of experience in MARC cataloging required
    • Experience with OCLC Connexion and a library ILS required