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College of Information and Communications

Faculty and Staff

Rachel D. Williams, Ph.D.

Title: Assistant Professor
Department: School of Information Science
College of Information and Communications
Phone: 803-777-3321
Office: School of Information Science
Davis College, Room 213
1501 Greene Street
Columbia, SC 29208
LinkedIn: My LinkedIn profile


B.A., English Rhetoric and Composition, University of Kentucky 
Graduate Certificate in Publishing, University of Denver
M.L.I.S., School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
Ph.D., Library and Information Studies,  University of Wisconsin-Madison


Prior to joining the faculty at the University of South Carolina, Rachel Williams was an assistant professor at Simmons University. Her professional background and current interests are rooted in public librarianship.


  • Examining public library services for people in crisis from the perspective of boundary work/boundary management, professionalization, and professional roles and responsibilities
  • AR/VR approaches to training and education in LIS, particularly around crisis communication skills
  • Social work and public libraries; leveraging social work skills in professional practice; trauma informed librarianship and community development


As an educator, Williams believes that she and her students create the classroom environment together. Creating a positive and inclusive learning environment enables us to learn in meaningful ways. She is committed to not only lecturing but leading hands-on writing exercises, group activities, and watching and discussing videos. She is also committed to constantly questioning both herself and the materials covered in class. Being open to feedback, critique, and questioning is important to her. Williams believes that great educators are open-minded, rigorous, willing to take risks, and involve students in whatever way helps them learn best.

Recent Publications

Ogden, L. P., & Williams, R. D. (2022). Supporting patrons in crisis through a social work-public library collaboration. Journal of Library Administration, 62(5), 656-672.

Williams, R. D., & Ogden, L. P. (2021). What knowledge and attitudes inform public librarians’ interactions with library patrons in crisis?. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 53(1), 62-74.

Williams, R. D., & Saunders, L. (2020). What the field needs: Core knowledge, skills, and abilities for public librarianship. The Library Quarterly, 90(3), 283-297.

Williams, R. D., & Willett, R. (2019). Makerspaces and boundary work: the role of librarians as educators in public library makerspaces. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 51(3), 801-813.


ALISE/Connie Van Fleet Award for Research Excellence in Public Library Services to Adults


Williams is a member of the Association for Library and Information Science Education and the Association for Information Science and Technology. She has served in a variety of service roles for both organizations.


In her free time, Williams is an aspiring potter. She also enjoys the hiking and the outdoors with her spouse and her two dogs — a corgi named Waffles and a husky named Athena.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.