On April 26, 2004, New York Public Library (NYPL) Board Chairman Samuel C. Butler and President Paul LeClerc announced they were appointing David Sean Ferriero to the post of Andrew W. Mellon Director and Chief Executive of the Research Libraries effective September 1, 2004, as Lawrence Van Gelder reported in The New York Times. Ferriero had been Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and Vice Provost for Library Affairs at Duke University. Ferriero’s library career began at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), where he worked his way up from being a page to being Associate Director of Libraries.
“While I am very pleased for David, The New York Public Library's gain is truly Duke's loss,” said Duke University President Nannerl O. Keohane. “David has been a remarkably effective and visionary leader of our Library system since we lured him away from MIT. He is something of a Renaissance man, who combines a commitment to the life of the mind with a practical and collaborative approach to serving the diverse needs of our library clients. He has brought Duke libraries into the electronic age and helped all of us understand technology's challenging issues and opportunities, while successfully leading a major fund-raising program to expand and modernize Perkins Library. And he has done all this with charm, wit and great sensitivity to the multicultural nature of our university.”
At the time, the combined collections of the four research libraries consisted of 43,000,000 items, including 1,700,000 books. Ferriero succeeded William D. Walker, who departed the NYPL to run the University of Miami libraries.
As Norman Oder reported in LibraryJournal, after Susan Kent, Director of the NYPL Branch Libraries, resigned her position in May of 2007, the two posts were consolidated with Ferriero as Director of the New York Public Libraries. Susan Kent resigned her post after holding it for two years and eight months, having formerly been Director of the Los Angeles Public Library.
Ferriero told LibraryJournal, “Early on, Susan and I recognized that, if we were successful, there was really one job. It happened sooner than expected.” He also explained that with $7,750,000 from the City of New York and $1,500,000 from the Picower Foundation, he was overseeing the consolidation of the NYPL’s two automation systems and computerized card catalogs.
The NYPL had commissioned the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton to examine the NYPL and was due to issue a report at the end of September, 2007. Ferriero told LibraryJounral, “I can tell you now, it’s big, and it’s very exciting; we are in the process of reinventing the library.” On July 28, 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. nominated Ferriero to be the 10th Archivist of the United States, and the U.S. Senate confirmed Ferriero’s appointment in November.
He was replaced by Ann Thornton, who had been on the staff of the NYPL since 1996, when she was hired at the Science, Industry and Business Library (SIBL) as its first public training coordinator. She subsequently held positions as the Assistant Director of Electronic Resources, the Associate Director of the Humanities and Social Sciences Library, and Director of Reference and Research Services.
Initially, she was Acting Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries. In March of 2012, the NYPL announced Ms. Thornton was the new Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries.
“In her 15-plus years at NYPL, Ann has established herself as a paragon of collegiality and a leader promoting the highest standards of excellence,” stated NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “She has done a superb job as the Acting Andrew W. Mellon Director, leading with her signature grace, authority, and wide-ranging expertise. The important steps she has taken in moving the Library forward in collection sharing have been especially notable: opening up the collections and making them more accessible both physically and digitally to record numbers of users, developing formal partnerships with NYU and Columbia University, and developing the HathiTrust collaborations. She is recognized as an authority for libraries everywhere on a myriad of topics ranging from library-use instruction to e-books and the Internet in libraries, and we are proud to name her the Library's Andrew W. Mellon Director.”
Ms. Thornton has a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.L.I.S. from Florida State University. Early in her career, Ms. Thornton served as a systems librarian at the University of Houston Libraries, and more recently, she was a Research Libraries Leadership Fellow in a program sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries.
“I'm deeply honored to be named Andrew W. Mellon Director,” said Ms. Thornton. “The New York Public Library has a deeply committed and talented staff, and I never stop learning from them. I am excited about the incredible opportunities we have to serve users better as a destination – both onsite and online – that facilitates learning and the development of new ideas, scholarship, products, businesses, and works of art.”
In 2008, LeClerc persuaded Stephen Allen Schwarzman, the multibillionaire financier and a NYPL trustee, to contribute $100,000,000 toward the cost of renovating The New York Public Library building (the Humanities & Social Science Library and Bryant Park Stack Extension). Schwarzman is the Chairman & CEO of the Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.
Subsequently, the building was renamed the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. S. A. Schwarzman told The New York Times this was not his idea, but it was a “good idea.”
His name was carved into the façade of the building in five places. As Scott Sherman related in The Nation in December, 2011, “the local community board opposed the five carvings, on the grounds that they were ‘excessive and unnecessarily intrusive to this iconic facade.’”
Sherman continued, “Other controversies trailed LeClerc.” In 1998, Mark Singer reported in The New Yorker “that the NYPL had allowed 500 cartons of printed pamphlets, some of which were produced in the seventeenth century, to be sold to rare book dealers.” In 2005, the NYPL sold a painting from its art collection, Asher Durand’s Kindred Spirits, for $35,000,000 in a closed auction at Sotheby’s to Walmart heiress Alice Walton., which “inspired a scorching essay” by New York Times art critic Michael Kimmelman, “who described the process as ‘hasty and secretive.’ In 2007 the NYPL agreed to sell a beloved branch library—the Donnell, across from the Museum of Modern Art—to Orient-Express Hotels for $59 million. A refurbished Donnell was supposed to be incorporated into a new hotel on the site in 2011. But the economic downturn prompted Orient-Express to extricate itself from the deal, and the building has been vacant for more than three years. The Orient-Express contract was recently transferred to two developers, who finally paid the NYPL. But local residents will have to wait until late 2014 for the Donnell library to reopen.”
 Dr. Deborah Jakubs is the current Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian & Vice Provost for Library Affairs.
 Ferriero is the first librarian to serve as Archivist of the United States. In addition to making him head of the National Archives & Records Administration (N.A.R.A.), President Obama also appointed Ferriero head of the newly-formed National Declassification Center, with a mandate to declassify approximately 400,000,000 classified documents generated by the U.S. Armed Forces, the C.I.A., and other federal agencies that dated back to World War I, as Barbara Barrett reported in the News & Observer.