Interview: A Conversation with Boston Public Library President David Leonard
David Leonard doesn’t fit the stereotype of the typical library guy: In the six years since taking the helm of the BPL, the former IT consultant has never shushed anyone, and he recently did away with fines for late books. In fact, to hear Leonard tell it, he never imagined he’d even work in a library, let alone run one of the biggest systems in the country while simultaneously finishing his PhD in library and information science at Simmons University. To get the 411 about the future of one of Boston’s most important institutions, we sat down with the Dublin, Ireland, native on the eve of the reopening of the BPL’s massive, recently restored special collection of rare books and manuscripts, which returns to the Copley Square branch this month after four years in storage.
From the Interview:
Q. What is the thing that most people would be surprised to know about the BPL?
Leonard: I think it’s the sheer breadth you referenced. We have some of the same responsibilities as a classical museum, but our curators always collected these objects so that they could be used, so that they could play an educational role, and be there for research, not simply on display or put in storage. As a public library, we have a maybe slightly different responsibility than our other colleagues in the field. I think it’s also true that whether you walk into one of our 25 neighborhood branches or the Central Library or visit our collections online, you can have an amazing experience. We’re trying to focus on meeting the needs of today’s population, whether they’re a social worker, a media literacy specialist, a nutrition literacy specialist…really new ways of thinking about the needs of the population.
See Also: David Leonard’s Bio (via BPL)
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.