February 16, 2018

Rebekah Willett | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Community Builders

Rebekah Willett


Assistant Professor, School of Library & Information Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD, Media Education, Institute of Education, University of London, 2002


Photo by Bob Stefko

Real-World Ambassador

Through her research, teaching, and mentoring of grad students at the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M), Rebekah Willett works to narrow the gulf between the often enclosed academic arena and the outside world. “By offering students [opportunities] in ‘real world’ situations, I aim to connect their experiences to theories and ideas we’re covering in class,” deepening both, she says.

Willett’s LIS 202: Information Divides and Differences in a Multicultural Society, which enrolls 190 undergraduates annually and fulfills UW-M’s ethnic studies requirement, exemplifies her goals. The class tries to “send UW graduates into the world with a deeper understanding of the experiences of marginalized groups in the United States, as well as the means by which such peoples have negotiated and resisted their marginalization,” Willett explains. The class has won Willett “the highest student evaluations of any SLIS instructor,” according to UW-M SLIS director Kristin Eschenfelder.

Willett is also involved with the Bubbler, the Madison Public Library’s Maker space–focused initiative. Willett was “part of a team that developed a new service learning course,” for the Bubbler, says Eschenfelder. Since its 2012 launch, approximately 40 SLIS students have worked on programs like bilingual story time, digital media projects with court-involved teens, and teaching adults technology skills, Willett says. [For more on the Bubbler, see Trent Miller profile, p. 48.]

As students Holly Storck-Post (now at the Monroe Public Library, WI) and Darcy Poletti-Harp put it, “Rebekah…quite simply is an incredible benefit to each and every student she helps on their LIS career path.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Prof hats off to you for the great work and professionalism. Your enviable contributions to the Library profession will continue to inspire many along your footsteps.



    Hosea Tokwe