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Amy E. Ryan, Former President

Amy Ryan, Former President, BPL

Amy E. Ryan became the first female president of the Boston Public Library in 2008. The Boston Public Library is the first municipally funded library in the United States and one of the first free public libraries in the world. As President, Ms. Ryan provides leadership to one of the most comprehensive library systems in the country. With a collection of over 22 million books, maps, manuscripts, prints, and other materials, the Boston Public Library is known as the Library for the Commonwealth and serves all residents of Massachusetts. The Boston Public Library was the first to establish neighborhood branches, and is one of the few libraries in the world renowned for both the capacity to support scholarly research in diverse disciplines and for the quality of its branch system and outreach activities.

President Ryan led the development of the Boston Public Library’s strategic plan – known as the “BPL Compass” – which outlines the path toward ongoing success in light of new audiences, demographic changes, expanding technology, and the public’s evolving expectations for services, collections, computers, and buildings – all within the context of financial sustainability. The Compass process occurred in three phases, involving more than 1,500 participants, 82 convenings, and leveraging the Boston Public Library’s largest systemwide user survey to date.

With unwavering dedication and a commitment to all citizens, her vision is twofold: to set the course that will keep the BPL at the forefront in both research and service delivery at the neighborhood levels; and to advance a premier library system that welcomes people from all over the world by responding to the changing needs of library users. President Ryan values partnerships and collaborates with the schools, universities, youth organizations, senior centers, literacy groups and others to leverage tax dollars to expand the input of library services. The Boston Public Library and the Boston Public Schools continue to jointly sponsor numerous programs for school-age children.

President Ryan has over 35 years of public library management experience. Before being named to lead the Boston Public Library, she was the Director of the nationally recognized Hennepin County Library in Minnesota from 2005 to 2008. Prior to that, President Ryan served in leadership positions for over 28 years with Minneapolis Public Library. Her experience encompasses management positions in community libraries, central library subject departments, special collections, capital projects and building improvements, and communications and partnerships.

She is on the national Steering Committee of the Digital Public Library of America, a groundbreaking project that seeks to digitize and bring together the contents of American libraries and archives, and make them freely available online.

President Ryan also serves on several boards including the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, the Boston Public Library Foundation, the Associates of the Boston Public Library, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries Visiting Committee, the Back Bay Association, and Boston After School & Beyond; and is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

President Ryan is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, one of which is a 2007 Resolution of the City of Minneapolis honoring and thanking Committee Co-Chair Amy Ryan for the consolidation of city and suburban libraries. In 2004, Ms. Ryan was the recipient of the American Institute of Architects Special Award and was honored with a Resolution of the City of Minneapolis. In 2003, she received a Certificate of Merit from the Minnesota Library Association.

During President Ryan’s leadership tenure, the Boston Public Library has recently earned several prestigious national awards for its programming, public service, and well-designed spaces. The recognition came from the American Association for State and Local History, the International Interior Design Association, the American institute of Architects, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and several divisions of the American Library Association.

She has studied at the Institute for European Studies, Freiburg, Germany, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Mankato State University in Minnesota, and a Masters in Library Science from the University of Minnesota. Her continuing education includes a leadership course at the Harvard Kennedy School for Executive Education.

Contact Information

Boston Public Library
Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116
Office 617.859.2276