Jill Bourne Named BPL President

Boston, May 21, 2016, — Today, the Boston Public Library (BPL) 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. A third finalist candidate, Andrea Sáenz, First Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library, withdrew from the interview process for personal reasons.

“During this time of deep transformation for libraries, having a president who has vision, is a strong manager, and an outstanding leader is necessary to ensuring the Boston Public Library remains one of the top urban library systems in the country,” said Mayor Walsh. “I applaud the Board of Trustees for their work in making this difficult decision between highly qualified candidates; and thank the Presidential Search Committee who volunteered their time to vet and interview numerous candidates.”

“On behalf of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library, it has been an honor to have had the opportunity to interview these talented individuals, and to select the next leader of the BPL. Jill Bourne brings new ideas, innovation, and deep experience in urban libraries to the role – from working as a children’s librarian to managing a library system,” said Robert Gallery, Chair of the BPL Board of Trustees. “The BPL is an important cultural asset in the City of Boston and a vital educational resource for residents of the city and the state, and we look forward to working with Jill to shape the future of this historic institution.”

David Leonard will continue to serve as Interim President of the BPL until contractual details with the selected candidate are finalized.

Mayor Walsh launched the search for the next BPL president in September 2015, when he appointed John Palfrey, head of school at Phillips Academy and a former librarian, to chair the BPL Presidential Search Committee. In November, the 14-member Presidential Search Committee was formalized to locate, recruit, interview, and evaluate top candidates for the position. The Search Committee held seven public listening sessions for the community to share their thoughts on what qualities they believe the next leader of the BPL should have to inform the BPL president job description and candidate interviews. The Committee also solicited comments via an email address and social media.

Executive search firm Spencer Stuart, contracted to assist with the search, contacted and reviewed approximately 215 individuals for the position, presenting 30 qualified prospects to the BPL Presidential Search Committee for evaluation. Of these, 25 candidates were approached by the BPL Presidential Search Committee, and seven had face to face interviews, narrowing down the field to three finalist candidates, including: Jill Bourne, City Librarian for the San José Public Library; David Leonard, Interim President of the Boston Public Library; and Andrea Sáenz, First Deputy Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library, who withdrew.

Jill Bourne bio:

Jill Bourne was appointed City Librarian for the San José Public Library (SJPL) in 2013, a system that includes 23 branch libraries and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, operated in partnership with San José State University.

Jill’s first post in California was as Deputy City Librarian in San Francisco, which she held from 2006-2013. She began her professional career at the Seattle Public Library where she held several positions over nine years – children’s librarian, youth materials selector, head of the Central Library, and, finally, Assistant Director for Public Services.

Jill holds a bachelor’s degree in English from New York University and a master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington.


Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit bpl.org.