Bernard A. Margolis began serving as New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries in January 2009. Reporting to the Deputy Commissioner for Cultural Education, Mr. Margolis administered the New York State Research Library and the Division of Library Development. In partnership with the state’s 73 public and school library systems, the State Library delivers library services to 19.5 million people served by New York’s 7,000 academic, public, school and special libraries.
Mr. Margolis came to the State Library from his previous post as President of the Boston Public Library (BPL), Boston, Massachusetts, where he served from 1997 to 2008. The Boston Public Library is the oldest municipal public library in the country, with 27 neighborhood branches.
His library experience includes management and executive positions in libraries and library systems in Colorado, Michigan and Massachusetts. Prior to moving to Boston, he served as Director/CEO of the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs from 1988 to 1997.
Mr. Margolis’ service includes a number of positions within the American Library Association including service as an elected member of the governing Council, leadership in the Association of Research Libraries, service as a professional delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries, and service on the boards of library organizations in Massachusetts,Colorado, and Michigan.
“Bernie was a librarian’s librarian. We were privileged to have someone in the role of New York State Library who so deeply believed in the core values of librarianship. His compass was always set in the right direction on behalf of New Yorkers. His deep seated commitment to intellectual freedom, patron privacy, access and diversity are a legacy to be proud of. I will miss his good humor, steadfastness and commitment to make the world a better place through libraries.”
- From Rebekkah Smith Aldrich
The New York Library Association (NYLA) is saddened to note the passing of New York State Librarian, Bernard “Bernie” A. Margolis on Saturday, April 14, 2018. Mr. Margolis served as the New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries since January 2009. Mr. Margolis administered the New York State Research Library and the Division of Library Development. Working with New York State’s 73 public and school library systems, the State Library delivers library services to 19.5 million people served by New York’s 7,000 academic, public, school and special libraries.
Prior to becoming the New York State Librarian, Mr. Margolis served as the president of the Boston Public Library for 11 years where he expanded library hours, expanded children’s library services to every branch, created the nationally recognized Homework Assistance Program and online tutoring program, among many other accomplishments.
Due in part to his tireless advocacy and leadership in support of libraries, during Mr. Margolis’ tenure as NYS Librarian, New York State Library Aid increased by over $17M, and funding for the Library Construction Aid program increased to an all-time high of $34M.
“The library community has lost a stalwart champion,” commented Executive Director of the NY Library Association Jeremy Johannesen, who continued, “Bernie’s indominable spirit will be sorely missed by all those who believe in the critical role that libraries play in their community. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, Amanda.”
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to your local library.
STATEMENT FROM BOARD OF REGENTS CHANCELLOR BETTY A. ROSA AND COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION MARYELLEN ELIA ON THE PASSING OF NEW YORK STATE LIBRARIAN BERNARD A. MARGOLIS:
“We are deeply saddened by the recent passing of Bernard A. Margolis, New York State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries.
“Bernie was an outstanding library leader and a visionary. His expertise in library matters will be missed not only by the Board of Regents and the staff of the State Education Department, but across the State and the nation. His colleagues and friends at the Department and in the library community will miss his intelligence, eloquence, keen sense of humor and sage advice.
“Appointed State Librarian by the Board of Regents in January 2009, Bernie provided leadership and vision for the New York State Library, the state’s 73 library systems and New York’s 7,000 academic, public, school and special libraries.
“Bernie was very much looking forward to celebrating the State Library’s 200th Anniversary this month. Thanks to his vision and leadership, we have much to celebrate.
“Bernie accomplished much over the course of a long and successful career as a librarian and library leader. During his tenure at the New York State Library, state funding for public library construction more than doubled; participation in Summer Reading at New York Libraries grew to more than two million young people; and free public access internet and Wi-Fi are now available to patrons in all of New York’s public libraries. Of course, those are only some of the highlights of his exceptional tenure as New York State Librarian.
“Bernie came to the State Library from his previous post as President of the Boston Public Library, where he served from 1997 to 2008.
“We are so fortunate that Bernie chose to share with the public his lifelong love of books and learning. We are all better off because of his dedication and service to others.
A native of Kew Gardens Hills, Bernie joined us last September in celebrating the official re-opening of our branch there following a major expansion and renovation. Standing before a large crowd gathered outside the branch, he spoke passionately about the crucial role of public libraries in our society during an era of great uncertainty and change.
“Look at this building behind me,” he said. “It is the antidote. It is the medicine that we need. It is the light that brings knowledge to our children. It is the light that creates opportunities for people to aspire to things that they never thought they could achieve. It is the light that brings us together. That’s what this library stands for.”
Chief Librarian, Queens Library”