Meet Jacqueline Zhou, an undergraduate, 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.

What year are you and what are you studying at Princeton?  What interests you about the subject?

I’m a sophomore studying Philosophy. I love examining different frameworks of thought in order to rethink the big questions about life that I’ve been asking since a young age. There are so many strange, interesting arguments made about life in philosophy.

How did you get involved with SFPUL? 

One of my friends told me about the SFPUL, and I found its events super fun to attend! I’ve always loved libraries and physical books, so I wanted to understand the Princeton library system and people better.

Jackie at the Starfield Coex Mall in Seoul.

What has been your favorite SFPUL event and why? 

I really enjoyed the tour of “Nobody Turn Us Around: The Freedom Rides and Selma to Montgomery Marches" at Mudd Manuscript Library. I read “The Children”, a book centered around college student activists during the Civil Rights movement, in high school. It was a real privilege to see photos of the people I read about and touch the real carbon copies from the FBI files. Lunch afterward was definitely a pleasant bonus!

What have you learned since joining the Friends?

I’ve learned about the unbelievable depths of Princeton’s archives as well as some of its curation processes. There are people working every day to carefully curate a Princeton collection and there is enormous intention behind every exhibition and every acquired book, manuscript, artwork, etc. I hope more people can come to the Friends’ events and see the hard work behind our extraordinarily well-maintained libraries.

How have you used the Library in your time at Princeton? Are there any notable resources or materials you've used? 

I love studying in Firestone with my friends, but the Library also has so many resources that most students are not aware of! The other week, I went to Marquand Art Library to see some books by Sophie Calle in the reserves for my French class. These were gorgeous books of photography with metal binding. The pages had cut-outs, intentional hole punches, and perforated lines that worked together with her photos, making the entire book itself feel like an art sculpture. In addition to Special Collections and the stacks, Princeton University Library has so many fascinating holdings all accessible to its students.

Why should someone join the SFPUL?

The SFPUL is a fantastic, low-commitment, high-reward way of being more engaged with one of the most treasured parts of Princeton—the Library. During our events, we get to see rare artifacts, listen to experts sharing their knowledge, and sometimes get a free meal in town afterward. What is there not to love? The student leaders are an essential link between the campus community and these beautiful exhibitions, and I really hope more people join us to keep these events going!

Published on March 26, 2024

Interview by Brandon Johnson, Communications Strategist

Media Contact: Stephanie Oster, Publicity Manager