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William P. Kelly Named The New York Public Library’s Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries


DECEMBER 14, 2015 – The New York Public Library has named William P. Kelly—former interim chancellor of the City University of New York and president of the CUNY Graduate Center, and the current chairman of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation—its Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Research Libraries.

Kelly will lead the Library’s four research centers and their 460 staff members—the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; the Science, Industry and Business Library; the Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; and the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. He will be charged with preserving and expanding the use of the most democratically accessible of research collections, which includes approximately 45 million items and is growing by about 150,000 books per year. Kelly will begin his tenure at NYPL in January, 2016.

“As the leader of perhaps the world’s greatest research facilities, and certainly the most open, the Mellon Director has the critically important role of preserving the esteemed collection of the Library, steering its acquisition strategy, and setting the course for the role of the research libraries for the future,” said Tony Marx, NYPL President. “Bill is both an accomplished scholar and a true leader, which combined with his passion, creativity, and his love of New York uniquely qualifies him to lead the Library’s research centers.” Kelly’s appointment was approved by the Library’s Executive Committee. 

Kelly described leading the research libraries of NYPL as a privilege of the first order. “I welcome,” he said, “the opportunity to protect and enhance the Library’s unparalleled collections, to support scholarship that depends upon those resources, and to advocate tirelessly for the critical importance of archival research.” 

Kelly’s responsibilities will include collection strategy, acquisition, and accessibility; researcher engagement; preservation; long-term and short-term fellowships; and taking a lead role in several important research initiatives happening in the next few years at NYPL. Specific projects will include:

The recruitment of new curators and additional staff.
The completion of a second story of underground materials storage at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Construction on the second level of the Milstein Research Stacks will be complete in April 2016.
The Midtown Campus renovation, which will open approximately 40 percent more of the Schwarzman Building to researchers and the general public.
An $18 million renovation of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which will increase public space and improve collections storage, the exterior, and reading rooms.
Leading the Researcher Advisory Group, a team of scholars and researchers who advise the Library on all matters.
The continued growth of the Library’s collections and the preservation of these treasures for future generations.

Kelly most recently held the position of interim chancellor at CUNY, a university system that serves 270,000 students in credit-bearing programs and 226,000 adult and continuing education students at 24 senior and community colleges in the five boroughs. He has also served as chairman of the Research Foundation of the City University of New York. The foundation manages private and government-sponsored programs at CUNY; last year, the Foundation managed more than $400 million of new research awards.

Prior to these roles, Kelly was president of the CUNY Graduate Center from 2005 until June 2013. A unique institution in the United States, the Graduate Center enrolls more than 4,000 students in 30 doctoral and 22 master’s degree programs, drawing the majority of its 1,700 faculty members from the CUNY colleges.

During his time as president, Kelly raised $100 million in private funding, recruited 10 new members to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York’s Board of Trustees, and developed a nationally competitive five-year doctoral fellowship packages.

Kelly is also currently a member of the 34th Street Partnership and, as noted, is chairman of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which awards 200 fellowships annually to highly accomplished writers, artists, scholars, and scientists.

Kelly’s scholarship includes Plotting America’s Past: Fenimore Cooper and the Leatherstocking Tales and (under contract) Astoria: John Jacob Astor, the West, and the World. He has written numerous articles for a variety of journals, newspapers, and magazines.


Media Contact:

Angela Montefinise |


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The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at  


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