Glossary of Civil Service Terms


  1. Civil Service Agency/Authority/Commission/Division – The governmental entity to which the public library/appointing authority is answerable. Most often a county, city or town department of human resources.
  2. Appointing Agency/Authority – The hiring public library.

Classes of Positions

  1. Unclassified Service – This class of job positions encompasses largely elected and appointed positions, heads of government agencies, teachers, employees of the legislature and a few others.
  2. Classified Service – This class of job positions is broken down into 4 additional categories of job classes: competitive, non-competitive, exempt and labor.
  3. Competitive Positions – These are positions that require examination. Holders of these titles have due process protection regarding disciplinary actions under Civil Service Law §75.
  4. Exempt Positions – These are positions for which competitive or non-competitive examinations or other qualification requirements are not practical and in which the incumbent serves at the pleasure of his/her appointing authority. Library Treasurer and Clerk to the Board are 2 examples.
  5. Labor Positions – These are positions in which the incumbent is mainly engaged in unskilled manual labor. Cleaner, Van Driver and Page are  examples.
  6. Non-Competitive Positions – These are positions that are not in the exempt class or the labor class and for which examination has been determined to not be practicable. Some library titles include Story Teller, Library Aide, Librarian Trainee.


  1. Examinations can be prepared and rated either by the New York State or local Civil Service Departments.
  2. Open-Competitive Examination – These exams are open to anyone that meets the minimum requirement for the position. They can be given as a Written or a Training & Experience exam.
  3. Written Examination – Designed to test the candidate’s knowledge, skills and aptitude.  Questions are presented in a written format, such as multiple-choice, job simulation exercise, constructed response short answer or essay, or other written test format. Generally these are exams that are pre-scheduled and given at a location set by the civil service authority.
  4. Training & Experience (T&E) Examination/Questionnaire – This type of exam is used most often for professional librarian titles. The exam is comprised of a systematic evaluation of the education and work experience of each individual against a pre-determined scale which was developed based on the duties, critical knowledge, skills and abilities required of the position. Applicants who meet the minimum qualifications will be provided a Training & Experience questionnaire to be completed and submitted for scoring.
  5. Online Examination - An exam that is entirely completed via the computer, including the submission to the civil service agency. This does not apply to completing an online form then emailing or mailing it to the civil service agency.
  6. Paper Examination - A Training & Experience exam that is formatted in such a way that submission of the finished exam to the civil service agency is not done online, (i.e. completing an online PDF, then emailing or mailing it to the civil service agency).
  7. Promotional Examination – These exams are open only to those already in a public library who have permanent competitive status in the cited lower title, either in the direct line of promotion or in a related or collateral line of promotion  for a specified period of time.


  1. The state civil service department and municipal commissions may refuse to examine or to certify an applicant who does not meet the minimum qualifications. There are several other grounds for disqualification, including falsification of an examination application. Disqualified applicants must be provided a written explanation and afforded an opportunity to submit an opposing explanation. Additionally, they may appeal the disqualification to the Civil Service Commission.

Hiring Process

  1. Certified List of Eligibles/Eligible List – An official public record which contains the names of those persons who have successfully completed examinations, listed and ranked in order of the final ratings from highest to lowest. Those persons with tied scores will be ranked within their score according to a uniform, impartial procedure established by the civil service agency. For example, ranked by last four digits of social security number.
  2. Canvass – The process by which the candidates on the Certified List of Eligibles is officially informed of an available position and requested to respond regarding his/her willingness to accept the position should it be offered.
  3. Rule of Three – This rules states that an appointing authority may choose to appoint any one of the eligibles ranked above or tied in score with the third candidate from the top of the List of Eligibles who are willing to accept the position. These candidates are considered reachable.
  4. Transfer – (1) The change of a permanent employee from a position under the jurisdiction of one appointing authority to the jurisdiction of another appointing authority with further examination; (2) The change of a permanent employee to a position in a different title in the same or higher salary grade under the jurisdiction of the same appointing authority.


  1. Permanent Appointment – A permanent appointment can be made when a library has a vacant, budgeted, unencumbered position. All permanent appointments are subject to a probationary period.
  2. Provisional Appointment – A provisional appointment can be made when there is no valid Eligible List for a Competitive Class title, or there are fewer than three persons willing to accept appointment on the List. This is intended to be a temporary measure to fill the position only until the next Eligible List is established.
  3. Declination of Appointment - The name of the person declining appointment shall be eliminated from further certification from the eligible list unless declination is is for one or more of the following reasons: (1) unacceptable salary; (2) location of employment; (3) temporary inability, physical or otherwise, which must be satisfactory explained; (4) other reasons deemed acceptable by the Appointing Authority.


Updates 10-2016