February 17, 2018

Melissa Jacobs | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Change Agents

Melissa Jacobs


Coordinator, Office of Library Services, New York City Department of Education

MS, Educational Administration and Supervision, Graduate School of Education and Psychology, Touro College, 2003; MLIS, School Library Media Certification, Queens College, CUNY, 2000


Photo by Bob Stefko

Empire State Powerhouse

“Leadership with a sense of humor and a big smile.” That’s what Melissa Jacobs brings to everything she does, according to one nominator, Sara Kelly Johns, a former president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). As coordinator for the Office of Library Services at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE), Jacobs helps provide programming and support for more than 1,800 public schools and 1,200 nonpublic schools. In addition to this vast responsibility, she administers a $1.3 million annual budget and supplemental grant funding.

Her leadership, dedication to students, and innovation is widely felt “across the region, New York State, and nationwide,” says nominator Sue Kowalski.

A major achievement has been developing statewide K–12 information literacy standards, first created for the city’s school libraries and now being adopted by school libraries statewide. Based on the Barbara Stripling Model of Inquiry, the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum, written by a committee including Jacobs, aligns with Common Core Learning Standards and the AASL Standards for the 21st-Century Learner. After implementation in New York City, “the next step was having it endorsed across New York State,” says Jacobs, who led the charge, prompting endorsement by the School Library Systems Association (SLSA) of New York State, the New York Library Association Section of School Librarians, and State Librarian Bernie Margolis.

Jacobs is currently project director for a three-year Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant for Libraries. She will use the $499,967 grant and $516,507 in matching funds to build digital resources related to STEM learning at the NYCDOE Environmental Study Center, a one-acre Brooklyn facility that’s home to animals, a greenhouse, learning labs, and more. The materials, pre/post lessons, and text sets will support learning at the center and related curricula in New York City classrooms and school libraries.

“Melissa is on the cutting edge of technology and shares her knowledge,” says school librarian Christine Poser. Jacobs founded the committee for AASL’s Best Apps for Teaching and Learning because she believes that librarians must keep up with mobile technology. Her selection criteria? “Always keeping teaching and learning in mind—not bells and whistles apps.”

As president of the SLSA New York State, one of her goals is “getting more leaders to step up” among school librarians. Jacobs is also proud of creating and moderating an electronic list for New York City school librarians, NYCSLIST. The 1,000-plus member group “single-handedly changed the way librarians interact with one another,” says Poser. “Melissa is well-spoken, brilliantly prepared, passionate, and consistently influential,” says Kowalski. “She has a contagious energy.”

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Hearty congratulations for your great achievement and the valuable contribution that you are making in instilling information literacy skills for life-long learning for the students. It truly adds value to bring in humour and proactive learning skills to students for them to be better citizens tomorrow.

    All the best in your wonderful work.