Dear Colleagues and friends, it is a bittersweet moment as I announce Emilie Songolo’s impending departure after a long and illustrious career at UW-Madison. Emilie has accepted a position at MIT as Head of Distinctive Collections within the MIT Libraries.
A native of Cameroon, Emilie joined UW-Madison in 1991 and served in various positions: First as Reference and Instruction Librarian from 1991 to 2006, then as Francophone Studies librarian from 2001 to the present. After a hiatus at UCB where she served as Africana Librarian, she returned to UW-Madison in the summer of 2006 to serve in the role of Social Sciences, Francophone and Global Studies Bibliographer until 2011. Her culminating role at UW-Madison is liaison for African, Global, Francophone, and Ethnic Studies, and Head of UW-Madison’s International and Area Studies (IAS) unit. As founding Head of IAS, Emilie was able to guide the work of an experienced and dynamic team of 9 Area Studies specialists who curate unique collections while providing research support to faculty, students and other researchers. Some of the initiatives that she spearheaded to help IAS respond to current and emerging research and teaching needs include the IAS Video Series designed to help researchers discover distinctive materials in the International and Area Studies collections, and a unit strategic plan that incorporates a vision and directions for the IAS unit to be able to thrive within the framework of the Libraries and the UW-Madison strategic plans. During her tenure at UW-Madison, she has mentored numerous students, staff and faculty who are professionals in various fields today. Emilie is well known as a strong collaborator with faculty and students in her designated departments and across campus. Besides her notable commitment to equity in collections access and research, she fosters a culture of growth, respect, dialog and trust with colleagues and disciplinary constituents. Her professional influence and impact touches the UW-Madison, the community, and the international professional arena.
Emilie represents the library at the IRIS Governing Council and chairs the Africana Librarians Council (ALC) Title 6 group while serving on its Executive Board. She is a long-time member of the campus African Studies Program, and serves as a member of the program’s Executive Committee. She is a member of the UW-Madison 4W Leadership Circle where she is Director of Information Science and Global Empowerment. She is the initiator and curator of a large collection of African commemorative fabrics, part of which can be viewed on the UW Digital Collection Center’s database of Images of Commemorative Fabrics from Africa. Because of her experience in international and area studies, she was appointed to the Center for Research Libraries’ Collections and Services Policy Committee (CSPC)’s International Collections and Content Group. Emilie’s current research focuses on the acquisition,
preservation and access of African ephemera and media. She has published on women in African cinema and given multiple presentations in local, national and international professional conferences. In 2014, she launched the Madison Area International Women’s Day Conference to examine and address gender disparity locally and globally.
Emilie’s leadership work has earned her multiple awards including the UW-Madison Librarian of the Year (1996), the UW-Madison Outstanding Woman of Color( (2015), the Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence (2001), the UW-Madison Academic Staff Assembly Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Community (2009), the Woman Leader in Global Health-WGH, Midwest Chapter (2019) and the Outstanding Woman of Achievement Award – Wisconsin Women of Color Network (2017). She is a graduate of the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, Mount Holyoke College, and UCLA where she earned her Master’s of Library and Information Science.
Her continuing career goal is to help libraries deepen the understanding that library workers are custodians of world histories, cultures and life experiences. Thus, “we have to create a space for conversations about what voices are represented in library collections, how we make materials accessible to students, faculty and other researchers, how we make the hidden library visible, ultimately, what the library looks like when we gain this understanding”.
Undoubtedly, Emilie will continue to advance this agenda in the next chapter of her career as she takes on her esteemed role at MIT. We are currently working out plans to ensure the continuity of Emilie’s liaison and administrative roles on an interim basis until permanent plans can be put in place. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions and needs in that regard.
Emilie’s last day of work will be May 31, 2022. Please join me in celebrating Emilie’s career accomplishments and wishing her well as she embarks on the new chapter of her professional life.
Associate University Librarian for Public Services
University of Wisconsin-Madison
General Library System
372 J Memorial Library