Boston Public Library Appoints David Leonard President

Leonard had been serving as interim president.

boston public library

Photo by Meredith Foley

Well, that was quick. Just one week after the Boston Public Library’s first choice for its new president, Jill Bourne, turned down the post for personal reasons, the Boston Public Library Board of Trustees has offered the position to choice number two, David Leonard. He had been serving as interim president since July 2015.

The appointment caps a lengthy process initiated when the prior president, Amy E. Ryan, resigned after two valuable pieces of art went missing at the library. The pieces were eventually recovered in the library itself, after apparently being stored in the wrong location. Bourne, who leads the public library in San Jose, was offered the job after a lengthy interview process, but after several weeks of negotiation, ended up turning the job down.

In a press release, BPL board of trustees chair Bob Gallery said, “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,” while Mayor Marty Walsh said he was “thrilled” that Leonard would be taking over the role.

In a statement, Leonard thanked Walsh and the board of trustees for the vote of confidence and said he was looking forward to filling the role and continuing the work that he’d begun: “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.”

Leonard, who has degrees in philosophy and mathematics from University College Dublin, originally came to Boston to do post graduate work at Boston College, and has been working at the BPL for seven years in various roles. While he does not have a degree in library science, he recently enrolled in a library science PhD program at Simmons College. So no pressure to anyone who takes classes with him.