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Boston Public Library Offers Top Job To San José Librarian

The Boston Public Library selected Jill Bourne as its new president. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
The Boston Public Library selected Jill Bourne as its new president. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
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Almost a year after former Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan resigned, the library's trustees announced Saturday they selected a replacement.

Jill Bourne, currently the city librarian for the San José Public Library in California, was offered the job after a series of public interviews.

"Jill brings great experience having served in several urban library systems," Robert Gallery, chair of the library's Board of Trustees, told WBUR's Newscast Unit. "She's demonstrated great skills both honoring and developing the staff in those systems, partnering with other entities in those communities and bringing an innovative spirit to what a public library should be in the 21st century."

Bourne spent much of her professional career on the west coast — as city librarian in San José since 2013, deputy city librarian in San Francisco from 2006-'13 and in multiple positions at the Seattle Public Library, according to a statement from the library.

Gallery says the BPL is at an interesting time in its history, with the upcoming Johnson wing reopening and the continuing efforts to digitize and use new technologies.

"I think we have a rare opportunity to blend the deep history of what the Boston Public Library has meant to figuring out how to take it into the next 100 years," Gallery said. "The new president I think will play a huge role in sorting out how to do that."

The library had been looking for a new leader since a shakeup last year lead to the resignation of both Ryan and Board of Trustees Chair Jeffrey Rudman. Last May, the library revealed two valuable prints were missing and had been for almost a year. The prints — a 1504 Albrecht Dürer engraving and a 1634 Rembrandt etching — are valued at more than $600,000. The prints were found a few weeks later and the library reported they were "simply misfiled."

The trustees had also considered David Leonard, the BPL's current interim president, and Andrea Sáenz, the first deputy commissioner for the Chicago Public Library. Sáenz withdrew from the interview process for "personal reasons," according to the library.

Leonard will continue to serve as interim president until Bourne's hiring is finalized.

With additional reporting by the WBUR Newsroom

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Amy Gorel Twitter Producing Editor, The ARTery
Amy Gorel is the producing editor of The ARTery.

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