Emilie Songolo named head of Distinctive Collections

Emilie Songolo

Emilie Songolo has been named head of the Department of Distinctive Collections (DDC). Reporting to the Associate Director for Collections, the head will work across the Libraries to transform the use of MIT’s archival and unique collections and share them with the world. Songolo will begin serving in her new role on July 1, 2022.

“Emilie brings a wealth of leadership and management experience to this role and has demonstrated throughout her career that she foregrounds equity and inclusion in every decision,” says Associate Director for Collections Erin Stalberg. “She has a track record of successful collaborations and partnerships, as well as the ability to influence, implement, and scale change across a complex organization at all levels. Under Emilie’s leadership, I am excited for DDC to realize its potential as a partner and a platform for discovery and to innovate new approaches to research and community.” 

Songolo is currently the Senior Librarian for African, Global and Francophone Studies and the Head of International and Area Studies for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. At Wisconsin, she has been the curator of a large collection of African commemorative fabrics. In 2014, she launched the International Women’s Day Conference to examine and address gender disparity locally and globally. Songolo is actively involved with the Center for Research Libraries’ International Collections and Content Group, the African Studies Association, the Africana Librarians Council, where she is the Coordinator of the federal Title VI librarians’ group, West African Research Association, the UW-Madison UNESCO Chair Advisory Committee, and the AIFBD (Association Internationale Francophone des Bibliothécaires et Documentalistes). 

Songolo is the recipient of multiple awards including the UW-Madison Librarian of the Year, the UW-Madison Outstanding Woman of Color, the Dr. Brenda Pfaehler Award of Excellence, and the UW-Madison Academic Staff Assembly Commendation for Outstanding Service in the Community. Songolo 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.

“I feel honored and thrilled to join the MIT Libraries community in the role of Head of Distinctive Collections. The MIT Libraries are an institution of cultural heritage with rich collections, a diversity of expertise, and a record of commitment to social justice. Becoming part of this team during the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic compels us to interrogate DDC, to defy erasures, to broaden access, to deepen the sense of community, and to mold DDC into a beacon of social justice and excellence at MIT and beyond. I look forward to leveraging the collective expertise of my DDC colleagues to bolster DDC as the shining star that it is. Together, we will strengthen relationships with faculty, researchers, students, external stakeholders, and campus partners, as well as with all library units.”

Songolo was selected from a highly competitive pool of candidates as part of a nationwide search led by Kristine O’Brien at EDDA Partners.