The arts administrator Jennifer Schantz has been named executive director of New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Library, one of the country’s leading repositories relating to music, theater and dance.
Ms. Schantz, 51, currently the executive vice president and chief operating officer at the New-York Historical Society, will take up the position in May. She succeeds Jacqueline Davis, who has led the library for two decades.
The performing arts library, located in Lincoln Center, is one of the New York Public Library’s four research divisions, with a collection of some 8 million items that extend far beyond books to include manuscripts, photographs, scores, ephemera, sheet music, stage designs, costume designs, video and film.
Among its collections are its vast archive of recorded sound, which includes everything from symphonic recordings to radio plays to political speeches, and its renowned Theater on Film and Tape Archive, which includes some 7,000 recordings of Broadway, Off Broadway and regional theater productions. (The archive, which has inspired similar efforts at other institutions, received a special Tony Award in 2001.)
During her 13 years at the historical society, Ms. Schantz helped extend the reach of its collections through a traveling exhibition program and citizenship classes, which since 2017 have helped more than 3,000 green card holders prepare for the United States citizenship test through a curriculum based on items at the society.
Ms. Schantz, who studied flute and piccolo in the pre-college program at Juilliard, said that among her top priorities in her new job would be to further the library’s efforts to extend its reach.
“The New York Public Library is all about access, and I believe strongly in that as well,” she said. “It’s important that we continue to broaden exposure to our collections, not just to existing audiences but to new ones.”
The performing arts library, like virtually all of the city’s cultural organizations, is currently shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the crisis, Ms. Schantz said, only underscores the importance of the library’s mission.
“The performing arts can act as a beacon of hope, which is why they are so important,” she said. “And in the library community, we’re resourceful. We will do whatever we can to make sure people and collections come together.”