Civil Service Info; Entry Level Librarian

Summary: Many public libraries in New York State fall under civil service and must hire their full time staff through their county or city civil service process. This requires candidates to take an examination and be selected off a “list of eligibles” based on their particular score. The Library may appoint any one of the top three highest scoring candidates who wish to take the job. (The tests are “block scored” so many applicants will have the same score.)

In our region the primary civil service jurisdictions that impact public libraries are Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester. It is important to note that none of the New York City libraries (NYPL, Queens or Brooklyn) fall under civil service. No examination is required for employment in these libraries.

Here’s some information to help you navigate the civil service world. It’s confusing but if you want to work in public libraries on Long Island or Westchester you’ll need to deal with it. Take some time to review this and if you have any questions feel free to contact me.

Gerald Nichols
Director, Palmer Institute for Public Library Organization and Management

First, a little background information…

The NY State public librarian certification is a separate process. Palmer School staff will help you with that when you get close to graduation. That certification is necessary for you to be eligible to apply for any “Librarian I” exams. Before your degree you are eligible to work as a “Librarian Trainee”. Though there’s an exam for that in Suffolk most students do it part time (no exam needed!) New York State has 109 civil service jurisdictions, all a bit different. So if you plan to travel around in your career, do your homework in the region you are interested in. (Most are very flexible for librarians.) We’ve included the contact info for Suffolk, Nassau and Westchester. The good news for you is that the New York City libraries (NYPL, Brooklyn & Queens) are not in civil service…and best of all– they are hiring. Westchester is, like Nassau, continuous recruitment. Putnam, Rockland and other northern counties also have civil service but are generally more flexible in the librarian titles. If you are interested in those regions follow up with the respective county civil service departments.

Now, to be realistic, you’ll need to work hard to get a good job in this competitive region. Most grads start with several part time positions while going through the civil service motions. We always counsel students to look around for opportunities outside this region. There are many great jobs, and a great many graduates get a head start that way then move back to this region.

Nassau County:
Most public libraries in Nassau County are under the jurisdiction of civil service. (Exceptions include: Great Neck, Oceanside, Bryant [Roslyn], Bayville and Locust Valley. Glen Cove & Long Beach have their own civil service departments and are more flexible.)
Nassau County has a residency requirement and will only accept applications from candidates who have been county residents for at least one year prior to the examination. The Librarian I examination is an online “Training and Experience” exam that is available on a continuous basis. The entire process may be completed online.


Announcement/Job Specifications:

Please note that Nassau gives credit for a diversity of coursework. The application states:

“Your M.L.S. transcript will be evaluated to determine how many of your courses fall into the following categories:
(a) Non-Book Media Services
(b) Online Systems/Databases
(c) Management/Administration
(d) Special Population Reader Services
(e) Advanced Resource Studies in Special Literature.”

Suffolk County:
Nearly all the public libraries in central and western Suffolk are civil service. (The exceptions are Cold Spring Harbor, Emma Clark [Three Village CSD]; South Country and Brookhaven libraries.) The libraries on eastern Long Island, from Riverhead east, are generally not in civil service (Montauk being the exception).

In Suffolk County the examination for Librarian I is given every other year. It is a written, multiple choice exam. There is no residency requirement in Suffolk so any qualified applicant can take the test. Suffolk County offers examinations for Librarian I; Children’s Librarian I, Librarian I (Spanish Speaking), Library Trainee and Library Trainee (Children’s).

Job Specifications:
Librarian I:
* Librarian I: Children’s:
Librarian I: Spanish Speaking:
Librarian Trainee:
Librarian Trainee: Children’s:

* To take the Librarian I (Children’s) exam you need 12 credits in Youth Services courses. The “Public Libraries LIS 741” also counts toward this. Here’s a typical announcement that explains the 12 credit rule:

See Children’s and Youth Services Courses for Civil Service Exam

Westchester County:
The primary Civil Service jurisdiction in Westchester is the County. (White Plains, New Rochelle and Yonkers have their own and generally only test when their libraries need to fill a position.)

The Librarian I and Librarian I (Children’s Services) are continuous recruitment.
Apply online:
Librarian I; Children’s Services:
Librarian I:





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