May 28, 2022

Massachusetts: Jill Bourne Turns Down Offer To Become Next President of Boston Public Library

San Jose Public Library Director Jill Bourne has turned down an offer to be the next President of the Boston Public Library and has withdrawn her candidacy.

Bourne was offered the job on May 21st.

On May 24th the San Jose Mercury News published an article that included comments from San Jose city officials who were working to get Bourne to stay at the SJPL.

Here’s the full text of today’s Boston Public Library announcement (including comments from Jill Bourne):

The Boston Public Library Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting next week to discuss the status of negotiations in the search for a president of the Boston Public Library. Jill Bourne, City Librarian for San José, declined the offer due to personal reasons. Bourne had been offered the position by the BPL Board of Trustees following a public interview on Saturday, May 21.

“This does not diminish the Board of Trustees excitement about the future of the Library. I’m confident we’ll be able to select a strong leader to fill this role early next week,” said Bob Gallery, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees was looking forward to welcoming Jill Bourne to the Boston Public Library but the Trustees are understanding of her decision and wish her all the best.”

“I am extremely honored to have been offered the position of President of the Boston Public Library.  The institution, staff, and community support all attracted me to this position, as much as the city, its leadership, and the exciting things that are happening there,” said Jill Bourne, City Librarian for San José. “However, I have made the decision to withdraw my candidacy for personal reasons that were not anticipated while I participated in this process. This has been an incredibly difficult decision, and I greatly appreciate the patience and support of the Mayor’s office, the BPL Board of Trustees, and others.  While I cannot accept this opportunity, I am fortunate to stay in San José with a wonderful staff, colleagues, and community.”

The special meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 14 at 8:30 a.m. in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square.

During the meeting, the BPL Board of Trustees may consider Interim President David Leonard for the position. Leonard was publicly interviewed for the role by the BPL Board of Trustees at the end of May. He has served as Interim President of the BPL since June 2015. The Trustees may also enter into an executive session to review the negotiations with Jill Bourne since details of personnel matters are legally protected from public discussion.

Background on the BPL Presidential Search

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 José 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. The interviews were open to the public and held in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square.

UPDATE: More From the San Jose Mercury News

“Both cities have forward-thinking leadership and there’s so much further potential for the libraries to fill needs related to community learning and educational advancement,” Bourne said. “I have the greatest library staff, as well. I’m lucky in my current position and excited about the future here.”


…a host of San Jose leaders, including Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, rallied to keep Bourne here. Herrera said Bourne is an important leader who’s worked hard to restore library hours and services following a deep recession. Bourne’s departure would be “a loss to San Jose,” she said.

“I’m thrilled she’s decided to stay,” Herrera said Friday. “After a very long nationwide search, Jill was our top pick. There are so many more contributions she’ll be making to our community.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.