Commencement 2024: Meet Tolulope Oluwayemisi Adelabu

Tolulope Oluwayemisi Adelabu, originally from Nigeria, began her journey at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2021 as a Fulbright scholar. Now, as she graduates with a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies (LIS), her passion lies in curating and disseminating accurate information about Africa.

Tolulope came to Madison to teach Yoruba, one of the most widely used African languages across the world at the Department of African Cultural Studies. However, she was alarmed at the scarcity of culturally appropriate instructional information about Africa.

“I realized that the situation was not just about the lack of funds and infrastructure but also that people who are culturally knowledgeable and passionate do not often have the skills and platforms to execute and disseminate the required specialist work,” says Tolulope.

She chose to pursue her Master of Arts in LIS because of this lack of information. While she was in Madison on her Fulbright, Tolulope discovered the many resources available through the university.

“I chose the University of Wisconsin–Madison for my librarianship education because the school is rich in institutional, human, and material resources. In my Fulbright days on campus, I volunteered with the African Studies Program as an outreach scholar and observed that the center connects the UW system and others across the US and beyond with African and related resources. I believed that this network would give me the support I needed to make a difference in African knowledge accessibility,” says Tolulope.

Tolulope was also impressed by UW–Madison’s dedication to information innovation in African Studies.

“I also had the privilege to visit the Information School in person and discuss how the experiential, robust, and transdisciplinary curriculum of the Information Studies programs would meet my goals with Dr. Reginold Royston, a cross-appointed faculty in the iSchool and the Department of African Cultural Studies,” says Tolulope. “The Africana library project on African Commemorative Fabrics underway at the time by the previous African subject librarian, Emilie Songolo, further convinced me of UW–Madison’s commitment to information innovation in African Studies.”

During her time at UW-Madison, Tolulope also served as Special Assistant for Web and Collections for the African Studies Program. She believes that their mission of upholding research, teaching, and outreach that consider all aspects of life and land in Africa aligned with her goals of debunking harmful stereotypes that are perpetuated by the scarcity of culturally appropriate and sustainable instructional information about Africa.

“Curating, creating, and sustaining the enormous web contents, book collections, cultural materials, and publication archive of the center gave me a rare opportunity to engage with these information artifacts. These experiences validated my belonging in the information profession and positioned me to make a significant impact in the scholarship and daily lives of African children’s and young adult literature, both nationally and internationally,” says Tolulope.

Tolulope is currently working on the curation of African children’s and young adult literature, analyzing how Western children’s books have been used for development in Africa since colonial times, but the migration of African children’s literature to developed countries, like the United States, is silenced.

“I believe that this study will contribute to how we understand, foster, and sustain diversity and equity in today’s multicultural societies,” says Tolulope.

After graduation, Tolulope will stay at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, beginning a doctorate in African and Cultural Studies. She also hopes to work as a subject librarian for African studies and ultimately plans to become a professor of Africana and multicultural informatics.

Tolulope says that her favorite part of her time here has been the people.

“My favorite thing about UW–Madison is the people. I often say that Madison is very cold but the people keep you very warm. From my very first day on campus, 6, 630.68 miles away from home, I have been surrounded by a strong network of students, faculty, staff, and community members who helped me ease into my new work and living environment. These friends, instructors, advisors, librarians, and supervisors have provided me with exceptional career, academic, and social support and care which I directly attribute to my success in the MLIS program,” says Tolulope.