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BPL has a new boss — the interim boss

David Leonard was named interim head of the Boston Public Library last year.David L. Ryan/Globe staff/file 2015/Globe Staff

In a meeting that lasted all of 20 minutes, the trustees of the Boston Public Library unanimously named David Leonard the new president Tuesday morning — just weeks after passing him over for another candidate.

Leonard has served as the library’s interim president since July 2015.

Earlier this month, library trustees offered the top job to Jill Bourne of the San Jose library system.

But last week, Bourne withdrew her name from consideration, citing personal reasons, prompting the trustees to turn to Leonard.

At the Tuesday meeting, trustees stressed that while they originally preferred Bourne’s extensive library experience, their choice was never intended to slight Leonard.

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“There was some disappointment that [Bourne] decided not to come, but there is no disappointment with our choice for president now,” said state Representative Byron Rushing, who sits on the board of trustees.

Robert Gallery, the board chairman, praised Leonard’s track record as interim 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,” Gallery said in a statement.

Leonard, who addressed a small crowd after the vote was completed, said he was “thrilled, humbled, and honored” to now permanently hold the executive role.

“This feels a tiny bit surreal,” he said to cheers. “I won’t let you down.”

Mayor Martin J. Walsh welcomed Leonard’s selection in a statement.

“I am thrilled David Leonard is the new president of the Boston Public Library and look forward to seeing the BPL thrive under his continued leadership,” Walsh said.

Leonard, 49, was appointed in June 2015 following the resignation of Amy E. Ryan, who left the library after two expensive pieces of art were temporarily misplaced.

The Dublin-born Leonard kept his position as director of administration and technology after being appointed interim library president.

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In his seven years at the library, he has held several positions, including acting director of administration and finance and acting chief financial officer.

At the start of the search, more than 100 candidates were recruited or submitted applications to lead the city’s library system, which includes the central library in Copley Square, 24 branches, and 450 employees.

The library spent at least $110,000 to hire an executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, to seek a new president.

None of those funds came from taxpayer dollars, a library official said.


Meghan E. Irons of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Astead W. Herndon can be reached at astead.herndon@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @AsteadWH.