Boston Public Library Board of Trustees Offer Presidential Role to David Leonard

The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees on Tuesday voted to extend an offer of employment for the position of BPL President to current Interim President David Leonard. The offer came during a special meeting of the Trustees to discuss the presidential search after San Jose City Librarian Jill Bourne declined the position last week while within contract negotiations.

“I am thrilled David Leonard is the new President of the Boston Public Library and look forward to seeing the BPL thrive under his continued leadership,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I am also extremely grateful to all involved in this process over the past year, including the Board of Trustees, Presidential Search Committee Chair John Palfrey and the committee members, and the community for their contributions and input.”

“The Board of Trustees and I have full confidence that the Boston Public Library has a bright future ahead with David Leonard as President; his leadership capabilities and vision over the past year have kept this great institution evolving and innovating, and we know that will continue for years to come,” said BPL Board of Trustees Chair Bob Gallery.

“I look forward to serving as President of the Boston Public Library and expanding on the many accomplishments of the last year,” said David Leonard, president of the BPL. “Extensive knowledge of the institution – its successes and its challenges – and strong working relationships with staff and stakeholders should enable me to be an effective steward and leader of the BPL. Thank you to Mayor Walsh and the Board of Trustees for their confidence and support in my leadership.”

David Leonard has held the Interim President role at the BPL since July 2015 during which time he has overseen the $78 million renovation of the Central Library in Copley Square opening in July 2016 and branch improvement projects, including the groundbreaking and ongoing construction of the Jamaica Plain Branch. His work in the past year includes strengthening relationships with stakeholder groups such as the Boston Public Library Foundation, the Associates of the Boston Public Library, and The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center; overseeing management of the second phase of the Print Collection Inventory, an item-by-item inventory of the BPL’s prints and chromolithographs; environmental improvements and mold remediation in the Rare Books Department; and preparation for the BPL’s Special Collections Assessment, which includes compiling a master list and priority ranking of 800 collections set to be assessed and inventoried.

Prior to Leonard’s appointment in 2015, he was the Director of Administration and Technology (a position he still holds concurrently). In his seven years at the BPL, Leonard has also served at various times as both the acting Director of Administration & Finance and separately as acting Chief Financial Officer. He was first hired as the Chief Technology Officer in 2009. Leonard recently began a PhD program in Library Information Science at Simmons College.

Prior to the Boston Public Library, Leonard initially pursued an academic career, transitioned to the non-profit sector and then spent 10 years in the private IT consulting world in roles that spanned business development, management, and technology consulting, working on both strategic and tactical projects and services. Leonard holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Mathematics and a Master’s Degree in Philosophy from the University College Dublin. He originally came to Boston for post graduate work in the Philosophy doctoral program at Boston College.

In September 2015 Mayor Walsh selected John Palfrey, head of school at Philips Academy, Andover to lead the BPL Presidential Search process, and in November 2015 Mayor Walsh announced the 15-member BPL Presidential Search Committee.

Seven Public Listening Sessions were held with the BPL Presidential Search Committee at branches across the Library system for the community to share their thoughts on what qualities they believe the next leader of the BPL should have and to assist in the development of the presidential job description.

The BPL Presidential Search Committee worked closely with Executive Search Firm Spencer Stuart on identifying candidates for the position.

On Saturday, May 21, the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees voted to extend an offer of employment for President of the Boston Public Library to Jill Bourne, City Librarian for the San Jose Public Library. The decision was made following public interviews of Bourne and David Leonard, Interim President of the BPL, and deliberation amongst the Trustees during a public meeting at the Central Library in Copley Square. It was announced on Friday, June 10, that Jill Bourne declined the offer due to personal reasons.


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