Julie Edwards (MS '05) fell in love with Botswana in 2015 when she helped plan a conference there for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Reference and Information Section. As soon as her conference ended, she vowed that one day she would return. She is now back in Botswana as a Fulbright Scholar for the 2017-2018 academic year.
At the University of Botswana (UB), she is teaching two courses—Understanding the User (LIS 304/LIM 300) and Information and Society (LIS 211)—working with master's students, and collaborating with library colleagues on continuing education workshops.
"I have big classes full of wonderful students, and I enjoy working with them tremendously. In addition, all of my colleagues here have been so supportive, both professionally and personally, in helping me feel welcome and part of the community at UB," Edwards said.
Next semester she will teach a special topics class based on her book, Transforming Libraries, Building Communities: The Community Centered Library, which she coauthored with Melissa S. Robinson and Kelley Rae Unger.
Her interest in public libraries and community engagement led Edwards to enroll in the iSchool as a Leep student in 2003.
"After I graduated with my master's degree in English literature, I was working in a small library in central Wyoming. It really hit me one day how closely librarianship was related to social justice work, and I loved that. I realized that there was so much potential to work with communities on issues that are important to them, and I wanted to be a part of that," Edwards explained.
She is making the most of her time in Botswana, both inside and outside of the classroom. She and her husband love to look for wildlife and explore the countryside. In the upcoming months, she hopes to get out and work with librarians in their communities.
According to Edwards, "I've never been busier, happier, or more fulfilled in my professional work as an academic librarian–I think that says it all!"