As the nation turns their eyes to caucuses and polls in search of a new Commander in Chief, the Boston Public Library is seeking public input on who its next president should be.
The Library Board of Trustees and Mayor Marty Walsh assembled an executive search firm in September, and have started hosting public listening forums throughout the city’s library branches.
”The Boston Public Library is a dynamic and vital cultural institution, that touches every neighborhood and every resident of Boston,” Walsh said in a statement. “The new president should be a strong leader who has deep appreciation for the library’s unique collections, while advocating for technological innovation and new approaches to service delivery.”
The library’s last president, Amy Ryan, stepped down in July 2015 after landing in hot water when two valuable pieces of art were thought to have been stolen.
“We want to be as open and transparent in our decision making as possible,” John Paulfrey, chair of the presidential search committee said. “People want a president who understands the diversity of the Boston neighborhoods. Boston has one of the best research library that rivals many spectacular collections anywhere in the world. It’s very much like a museum and an archive as well as a civic center.”
The search committee has hosted six forums around the city in many of the library branches, and have more planned throughout the month of February. With over 400 employees and 24 branches, the new president has a tall task of preservation while pioneering new steps in modern times.
“This is a very complex job,” Simmons College Dean of the School of Library and Information Sciences Eileen Abels said. “We need someone who can look towards the digital age but respects the history at the same time. All the while, the candidate needs to know that each branch has its own personality in their communities, which also needs to be respected. It’s a demanding job, but it is the best institution of the future, history and culture.”
The committee hopes to have either one candidate, or a board of four members that would act as a presidential coalition chosen by spring 2016. I scope spans the country.
“We would love to have someone who has experience from Boston, but it’s not to say that someone from a major metropolitan diverse area wouldn’t be qualified,” Abels said. “The people we decide to invite in would demonstrate that they understand the unique characteristics of the city.”
The next public forum will be held on February 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lower Mills Branch in Dorchester.