Rachel Montgomery, MLS, Collection Development Librarian
March is a time to acknowledge women’s endeavors and achievements–from the women’s suffrage movement to the third annual Women’s March that took place in January–with two major celebrations: International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated each year on March 8th, was observed for the first time in 1911 and has a fascinating history. IWD is a “global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” The theme this year is #BalanceforBetter (hashtag included), “a call-to-action for driving gender balance across the world.”
International Women’s Day preceded Women’s History Month by more than 50 years. Women’s History Month began as Women’s History Week in Santa Rosa, California in 1978, and was held the week of March 8th to correspond with IWD, according to WomensHistory.org. The theme for 2019 is Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence honoring “women who have led efforts to end war, violence, and injustice and pioneered the use of nonviolence to change society.”
According to a 2016 Pew Study, 57% of library patrons are women–and we want to help you reach out to them this March. Several of our Collection Development librarians have created lists to help you create a display or bolster your collection:
One of the most prominent feminist campaigns of the last decade is the #MeToo movement, which focuses on supporting sexual violence survivors, particularly for black women and girls, as well as other marginalized groups. In High Interest Categories, under our new Social Awareness category in the Adult section, we have two #MeToo lists for fiction and nonfiction titles. In the fiction list you’ll find classic novels such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, as well as novels such as Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, about a rape scandal that rocks a small town. In nonfiction, you can find books about women’s rage (Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger), consent (Donna Freitas’s Consent on Campus: A Manifesto), and books on rape, abuse, and harassment.
On the heels of the #MeToo movement, Feminist Dystopias have had a resurgence, from a future where women are only allowed to speak 100 words a day in Christina Dalcher’s debut Vox, to Naomi Alderman’s The Power, where young women discover they have developed a physical ability that has the potential to change the world.
According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, “Women make up half of the total U.S. college-educated workforce, but only 29% of the science and engineering workforce.” To celebrate women who broke barriers and excelled in the STEM fields, we created two Virtual Book Display lists: Women in STEM - Fiction and Women in STEM – Nonfiction. In the fiction list, you’ll find fictionalized stories of real women in STEM, such as Marie Benedict’s The Only Woman in the Room (about Hedy Lamarr), women scientists facing unknown horrors in a dystopian future (Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation), and a mathematician who finds love (Helen Hoang’s bestselling debut romance, The Kiss Quotient). Prefer nonfiction? Learn about the unsung women who pioneered astronomy, the space program, and the internet, as well as famous names such as Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, and Jane Goodall.
Men fill the pages of history books with their accomplishments, but we don’t often hear about the accomplishments of their spouses. In our Virtual Book Display list, Lives of the Wives: Historical Fiction, discover the untold stories of women such as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, Consuelo Vanderbilt, and Maud Gage Baum. Did you know that Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Mariac, was a brilliant mathematician and may have been a collaborator on Albert’s theories? Marie Benedict explores that possibility in The Other Einstein.
We also have a list featuring fictionalized stories of real women in our aptly named Real Women, Fictional Stories list. Explore the lives of famous women, such as Jennie Jerome, Winston Churchill’s mother, in That Churchill Woman by Stephanie Barron, or Josephine Baker in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones. Or discover the fascinating stories of everyday women in Jess Montgomery’s The Widows, inspired by the first female sheriff in Ohio, or Julia Alvarez’s classic, In the Time of the Butterflies, about three sisters assassinated in 1960 for opposing General Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic.
For real women in nonfiction, check out Untold: Women’s Stories Throughout History, which includes fascinating stories of the lives of amazing women such as Eunice Hunton Carter, a granddaughter of slaves who became a lawyer and prosecuted Lucky Luciano in Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster, by Stephen L. Carter (Eunice’s grandson). Or learn about the British ladies who took on the Nazis in Sarah Rose’s D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II.
This International Women’s Day, whether you’re participating in a Women’s March, contacting your senators about women’s issues, Crafting the Resistance (crafting the resistance: 35 projects for craftivists, protestors, and women who persist, by Lara Neel and Heather Marano), or listening to Beyoncé, explore the vast and fascinating world of real and fictional women in these books.
Looking for more lists to fill your Library inventory? Check out these other awesome lists.