Following the Wisconsin Idea - the principle that education should influence and improve people’s lives beyond the university classroom - SLIS students are engaged in community outreach programs in Madison, throughout the state of Wisconsin, and around the world.

Allied Drive Literacy Time volunteers create book-based after-school programs in south Madison.

The Jail Library Group provides reading materials to inmates in Dane County jails.

The Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums Project members partner with Wisconsin tribal communities and their cultural institutions to promote cultural and educational projects.

SLIS community engagement activities have received numerous accolades, awards as well as grant support:

  • (2013)SLIS Student Organization "Jail Library Project " wins UW-Madison Community-University Partnership Award and Madison Sheriff's Department Citizen Award in 2012-2013
  • (2013) Omar Poler, Michele Besant, and Kristin Eschenfelder win an IMLS Research Grant of $140,071 to support the Convening Great Lakes Culture Keepers conference supported by the TLAM student organization.

In addition, SLIS offers LIS 820/399: Topics in Community Engagement, a service-learning course in which students work on identified community projects that have information needs outside of information agencies. Students work closely with faculty supervisor and community members. Past projects have included: literacy programming for school-aged children, LGBT oral history, and literacy projects in correctional institutions.