March 10, 2021

Library Mounts Window Display To Mark Women’s History Month

By Anne Levin

The fact that Princeton Public Library is still only open during limited hours was not about to stop staff from staging a significant observance of Women’s History Month.

Along the building’s spacious windows on Witherspoon Street, the library has mounted an exhibit of posters from the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC., focused on the contributions of women inventors. The display, which is also available online, highlights the work of 19 women.

Among those featured is Kavita Shukla, who came up with a way to purify water to help end food spoilage and waste in areas where refrigeration isn’t available – patented when she was a high school senior.

Jogger Lisa Lindahl, who teamed up with costume designers Polly Palmer Smith and Hinda Miller to create a “Jogbra,” is represented. So is Marilyn Hamilton, who was paralyzed after a hang-gliding accident and worked with friends to invent a lightweight wheelchair that would allow her, and others in similar circumstances, to continue to be active. Hamilton’s many accomplishments as an athlete include two women’s wheelchair singles titles in the US Open tennis competition.

The list goes on. “We wanted to focus on Women’s History Month as the crux of programming this month, and we wanted a way to attract people even though we’ve been closed and are now open with limited hours,” said Public Programming Librarian Janie Hermann. “Right now, other than our E-newsletter, it’s hard to get news out.  We don’t have [in-house magazine] Connections, and we don’t have handbills right now.”

Having done “story-walks” in the Witherspoon Street windows, Hermann was happy to discover that the Smithsonian had put together a poster exhibit dedicated to Women’s History Month. We took what would normally be those handbills you get inside the library, and blew them up,” she said. “It works really well.”

The exhibit is just one aspect of the library’s homage to Women’s History Month.  Upcoming virtual events include a Black Voices Book Group on Thursday, March 11 at 2 p.m., when the group will discuss Wanting North by Tanya Barfield; “Yes! The Suffragists Had Sway!,” a program for children and teenagers with author Nancy Kennedy, described as an interactive portrayal of the struggle of suffragists; and “Amazing African American Women” on March 25 at 4 p.m., describing accomplishments by women ranging from fugitive slaves to skilled aviators, presented by Museums in Motion.

An author discussion with historical fiction writers Kate Quinn and Lauren Willig on March 30 at 7 p.m. is a highlight. Willig will talk about her new book, Band of Sisters: A Novel, while Quinn will focus on her book The Rose Code.

“This is our big program,” said Hermann. “One book is about the women of Smith College [The Smith College Relief Unit], who went to France to give aid during World War I. The other is on the Bletchley Park codebreakers during World War II. These are two big-name historical fiction authors, so we’re really excited about that.”

Throughout March, young readers can learn about notable women throughout history by signing up for reading challenges at And the Storytime Shorts and La Hora de Cuentos programs will be devoted to Women’s History Month.

“All of the programs kind of tie in together,” said Hermann. “It’s the Women’s History Month learning adventure, and we are focused on this all month long.”