To Christine Schonhart, the Boston Public Library branches are more than just books and programs. They are the very heart of the communities in which they’re located. “I see the library as a safe and welcoming environment, a haven for kids and adults,” she says. “Each branch is a beautiful place for people to bring their families, and it’s free, so it’s accessible throughout the city.”
As the director of branch libraries, Christine juggles a host of responsibilities, from hiring staff and developing new programming to overseeing operations and budgets. “It’s an interesting job every day,” she says.
To do her job, she also is mindful of the need for each local branch to evolve with its community. “Neighborhoods change and grow more diverse,” she points out. “I want to hire staff who know the neighborhoods, and at the same time provide consistent, quality programming throughout the city.”
To keep her finger on the pulse of each neighborhood, Christine makes customer feedback a priority, through surveys, online forums, social media, and outreach programs. “I want each branch to be seen as a fun, engaging, welcoming, friendly space where people can come no matter what’s going on in their lives,” she says.