Merryl H. Tisch, the former chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, and her husband, James S. Tisch, the president and chief executive of Loews Corporation, are giving $20 million to the New York Public Library to expand and strengthen its education programming, which includes early literacy classes and technology training.

This money will allow for the library to create a position for a director of education, reporting to the library’s president, Tony Marx. Dr. Tisch said in an interview that she hoped the library would be able to expand popular offerings like English language classes, as well as to add job training courses, after-school homework help and programs aimed at exposing students to the rich holdings of the system’s four research centers.

Libraries are increasingly becoming community centers, where people come for many reasons, including for classes or simply to access the internet.

“If we get the right director, and hopefully we will,” Dr. Tisch said, “this becomes a blueprint for what urban libraries across the country should be turning themselves into.”

Christopher Platt, the chief branch library officer, said that, to his knowledge, “This is the first educational gift to public libraries of this scale in the country.”