March 6, 2019

Brett Bonfield Believed In Power of Words To Connect Rather Than to Divide People

To the Editor:

Ever since becoming executive director of the already sperb Princeton Public Library, Brett Bonfield has worked hard to understand, expand, and improve it. As an inveterate library user and a member of the Council of the Friends of the PPL, I’ve been grateful for the wide range and extraordinary quality of the resources, services, and work/study/meeting spaces that the PPL has been providing under Mr. Bonfield’s guidance.

Moreover, as I’ve gotten to know Mr. Bonfield, I’ve come to admire his interest in literacy and education, his enthusiasm for continuous improvement, his exceptional niceness, and his belief in the greater power of well-chosen words — the common currency of libraries — to connect rather than to divide people. So Cincinnati, the big old city on the wide Ohio River, is lucky to get him as chief operations officer of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Strange to report, since Brett’s announcement that he and his wife are moving 600 miles west, I’ve noticed that some of the books in the PPL are looking more, well, used than usual. After months or even years of standing on the shelf in the hope of being taken down, perhaps taken home, and maybe taken to heart, library books have the right to look a little tired. But the air of bookish fatigue has gotten noticeably worse on Witherspoon Street in the last week or so.

Fortunately, I’m confident that this fatigue is a temporary condition. When a good new director finally arrives, the members of Princeton’s big, diverse, and growing family of books will straighten their spines, stand a little taller, and look eminently readable once more. While librarians sometimes leave, books tend to linger in the stacks and, ideally, in the mind. I believe we can all take comfort in bookish loyalty like that.

Richard Trenner

Province Line Road