Library director leaving Princeton for Cincinnati

Brett Bonfield

Brett Bonfield, the executive director of the Princeton Public Library, has accepted the chief operating officer job for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County in Ohio.

The appointment was announced this morning on the Public Library of Cincinnati’s website.

Bonfield begins his new job in Ohio on April 22.

“As we begin building the next generation library, it’s important to have the right leadership team in place. Brett brings an outside perspective and is a well-respected innovator, communicator, and community builder in the
library industry,” said Paula Brehm-Heeger, the director of the Public Library of Cincinnati.

Bonfield has been the executive director of the Princeton Public Library since January of 2016. His last day at the Princeton Public Library is April 12. The library board of trustees issued a press release about his departure on Wednesday afternoon.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with library staff, with the trustees, foundation and friends as well as with our elected officials and colleagues in the municipality, our community partners, and our thousands of devoted donors and community members” Bonfield said in the news release. “They are the reason this library is the best in the state, the best for its size in the country, and one of the best libraries in the world.”

Bonfield says that under his leadership, the library increased outreach to under-served communities, establishing the position of community engagement coordinator and launching a social work internship through a collaboration with the Princeton Human Services Department. The library enhanced partnerships with Princeton municipal government, with Princeton Public Schools and a variety of local non-profits and volunteer groups, he said.

 “We have accomplished a great deal in the past three years, improving the library’s physical space, its collection, its technology, its organizational structure, its endowment allocation, the skills and diversity of its staff, and the range and comprehensiveness of the services it offers,” he said.  “I will always cherish my time here and will apply the lessons I have learned throughout the remainder of my career.”

In Cincinnati, Bonfield will be responsible for the operation of 41 branch libraries.

Pam Wakefield, president of the Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees, said the board is in the process of appointing an interim director. A committee will be appointed to conduct a national search for Bonfield’s successor, she said.

“Brett has been a thoughtful, dedicated and talented leader not only in our library but also throughout the entire Princeton community,” Wakefield said. “He has accomplished a great deal in his years with us. We know that the position in Cincinnati is an exciting opportunity for Brett and we wish him all the best.”


  1. Congratulations and best wishes to you, Brett! Thank you for all your dedication and hard work at the Princeton Public Library. We will miss you!

  2. Executive Director Bonfield is leaving after only three years. Everyone expected a longer tenure. Wonder how much money the Library Trustees spent for the executive search consultant involved in the process that resulted in his selection. There was a cost incurred by the Library a little over three years ago and I am assuming that a similar cost will likely be incurred by the Library in the coming months.
    The Executive Director is free to take another job, but it is at a cost to the Library.

  3. Maybe this time the Library Trustees should take their time and do a full, national search to identify the very best candidates from around the nation? It takes far more than 3 years to really have an impact on an institution.

  4. Brett Bonfield is a top notch professional. The Princeton Public Library has been fortunate to have him lead their efforts. He will be greatly missed by our community.

  5. Ever since Brett Bonfield became the director of Princeton’s already outstanding public library, he has worked hard to understand, expand, and improve it. As an inveterate library user, I’ve been grateful more than ever for the range of resources, services, and work spaces that PPL provides its members and visitors. Moreover, as I’ve got to know Brett, I’ve come to admire his keen interest in literacy and education, his enthusiasm for “continuous improvement,” his sheer niceness, and his belief in the greater power of well-chosen words to connect rather than to divide people. So the big city on the wide Ohio River is lucky to get him…. Strange to report, since Brett’s announcement, I’ve noticed that some of the books in our library are looking more, well, used than usual. After months or even years of standing night and day on the shelf in the hope of being taken down, taken home, and (if they deserve it) taken to heart, they have a right to look a bit tired. But it has gotten worse in the last week or so. Fortunately, I’m confident that this fatigue is a temporary condition. When a good new director arrives, Princeton’s big family of books will straighten their spines, stand a little taller, and look eminently readable once more.

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