Update, June 4, 2015, 4:45 p.m.: The prints have been found, which Peter Kadzis says, "doesn't change anything," regarding the following assessment of the BPL.

Even by Boston standards, the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the resignation of Boston Public Library President Amy Ryan were baroque. Consider the background:

1. Ryan was hired after then Boston Mayor Thomas Menino rode the previous library chief, Bernard Margolis, out of town on a rail. Margolis was not politically compliant enough for Menino.

2. Tension between the mayor’s office and library management has been a given for many years. In 1848, the Massachusetts legislature established the library with the mayor appointing the trustees, but the library being independent of City Hall’s directives. Under Menino, the library was politicized as never before.

3. Menino’s muscle for disposing of Margolis was Jeff Rudman, chairman of the BPL’s board of trustees. Ryan and Rudman were very much a team. And to Rudman’s credit, when David Koh, current Mayor Marty Walsh’s chief of staff, accused Rudman of offering Ryan political cover, Rudman redoubled his support for Ryan.

4. Ryan needed political cover because of the revelation that two prints – by Dürer and Rembrandt – were discovered to be missing, possible stolen. Those names are coin of the realm to art historians. But it was the fact that these art works had a market value of approximately $660,000 that caught the public’s fancy.

5. The fact that at least one of these works was missing for many months before anyone told Ryan, no doubt got Walsh wondering what kind of culture was calling the shots at Copley Square.

6. It was – ironically -- a culture more attuned to the populist demands of neighborhood branches and redoing the Johnson building along lines that Menino would have approved of, than dealing with the elite demands of a world recognized research library.

7. The reality, however, is that the Boston Public Library is a far more complicated institution than Menino or Rudman or Ryan realized. Ryan and Rudman paid convincing lip service to the more old-fashioned world of the Copley Square special collections, but they never were able to come to terms with its demands. To put it crudely, lose a book from the new library and you’re out what, $40. Lose a picture from the old library and it cost you $600,000 and your job.

8. Hours before Ryan resigned, The Library Journal published a piece lauding the new Johnson building renovations. I walked though the new space just two days ago. The children’s department was buzzing. The new teen center had kids playing chess, reading, chatting, doing homework, playing Gameboy. It was different, but it worked.

9. Then I walked into the old McKim building, a building which is itself a work of art. It too was crowded, but shabby in some spots, cluttered in others. It was a study in priorities. Bright and shiny and new good; old and distinguished passé.

10. As in a story by Henry James, the ancient values of a deep European culture ultimately succeed in compromising the innocent, optimistic avatars of new values. There is a touch a perversity in all this, but there you are.