Meet Sophie Brady, a PhD candidate and co-leader of the Student Friends of Princeton University Library

The Student Friends of the Princeton University Library (SFPUL) is a student-run group that sponsors events and activities related to libraries, books, collecting, and other bibliographic endeavors, with a dedicated emphasis on Princeton University Library’s collections. 

This is a Q&A with Sophie Brady, one of the co-leaders of the SFPUL.

Sophie Brady standing in front of a brown door.

What are you studying at Princeton? What interests you about the subject?  

I’m in my 5th year of my PhD in musicology. I love musicology because it helps us see how historical events affect musical expression. In my own work, I’m particularly interested in understanding the role that political change, globalization, and cultural exchange play in shaping the music of the 20th century.

How did you get involved with SFPUL? 

My husband (who also went to Princeton, but graduated before I started my PhD) told me about the SFPUL and I was intrigued, so I signed up for the listserv shortly after I began graduate school. 

What role do you hold with the Student Friends?  

I, along with Kasia and Jessica, am a co-coordinator/leader of the Student Friends. I’ve had the honor of being involved in the leadership of the SFPUL since 2018!

What has been your favorite SFPUL event? 

It’s hard to pick just one. My very first SFPUL event was a tour of the Scheide Library in fall 2017, which we recently just organized again. That tour gave me a great introduction to the kinds of opportunities that SFPUL offered. Other highlights over the years have included a tour of the Institute for Advanced Studies’ libraries (we saw the location of Einstein’s old office!), and a tour of Princeton’s ReCAP facilities. 

I was also really impressed with the virtual events that we hosted last year. Will Noel’s presentation of the mysteries of the Archimedes Palimpsest, the Fitzgerald at Princeton event with Mudd Librarian and University Archivist Dan Linke, and the private tour of the Cloisters museum collections, which were all held over Zoom, were tremendous. These events really brightened an otherwise challenging and difficult year.

What have you learned since joining the Friends? 

I’ve learned that the Library's collections are about so much more than just old books. Many people think that the items housed in Special Collections are only for people who study the distant past or a humanistic discipline. This is not true at all. Our SFPUL membership is diverse, and students from all backgrounds can benefit from attending our events and engaging with the Library’s collections. There is truly something for everyone.

Why should someone join the SFPUL? 

One day you will be at an event with other Princeton alums, and someone will ask what was the highlight of your time at Princeton. Your answer could be anything; lifelong friendships, a course that fundamentally changed your worldview, writing your senior thesis (for some, this will be the nadir of their college career, and that’s okay too!), playing a sport, etc. 

But many of you will say that it was participating in a club or an extracurricular activity. And just maybe, that club will be the SFPUL. Our group offers you the chance to engage with priceless books and artifacts, leading experts and scholars, and fellow book-loving Princetonians. Why not see if an SFPUL event could be a highlight of your time at Princeton? You’ll never know unless you give it a try.

To learn more or to join the Student Friends of the Princeton University Library, visit the SFPUL website.

Published November 19, 2021

Interview by Brandon Johnson, Communications Specialist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications