Dr. Michele Villagran Receives 2019 Research and Scholarship Grant for Cutting-Edge Cultural Intelligence Project


The School of Information at San José State University is excited to announce that Assistant Professor Michele Villagran was awarded the 2019 Academic Law Libraries Special Interest Section’s Research and Scholarship Grant for her proposed project: Examination of Cultural Intelligence within Academic Law Librarians.

Dr. Villagran pictured with MLIS Alumni“I am honored to have received the ALL-SIS Research & Scholarship Grant to further explore this topic with academic law librarians, and I thank ALL-SIS for recognizing the importance of such research. As we continue to work in diverse workplaces, we have to consider how our own understanding, practices and behaviors impact how effective we are in our interactions,” Villagran said.

With the award of this grant, Villagran will take a close look at the subject of cultural intelligence in academic law libraries in order to understand the perspective of their librarians, and to help them better serve their stakeholders. The mixed-methods research project, to be conducted in two phases, will include a web-based survey and focus groups.

The Research and Scholarship Committee of ALL-SIS announced the award on its blog, and identified three key questions that will be examined through the project:

  1. What is the overall level of and any variations among the four dimensions of cultural intelligence of participating academic law librarians?
  2. What viewpoints do the academic law librarians have about the value and importance of cultural intelligence within their organizations?
  3. How can academic law librarians best serve the information needs of their patrons through use of cultural intelligence?

The subject of cultural intelligence is not only relevant, but also “timely to examine as our association, AALL, recognizes core competencies and skills that legal information professionals need within the AALL Body of Knowledge,” explained Villagran.

“This cultural intelligence research supports several of those identified domains of professionalism: leadership, teaching and training, and marketing and outreach. I look forward to sharing my findings with our law library community.”

Villagran has concluded the first phase of the project, for which 171 academic law librarians responded to a web-based survey in June 2019. She is currently analyzing and coding the qualitative open-ended responses. Focus groups will take place this summer and expand upon details from the survey, leading to a greater understanding of the librarian’s thoughts on cultural intelligence.

Upon completion of the research project, Villagran will present and publish her findings to share with the law librarian community, as well as with students of the iSchool who are particularly interested in careers in academic or special librarianship, or in corporate or law libraries.

A former law librarian; accomplished educator; innovative speaker; and certified cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion expert; Villagran is uniquely positioned to helm the project.

Prior to the project’s conception, Villagran co-authored a book, “Celebrating diversity: A legacy of minority leadership in the American Association of Law Libraries [2nd edition],” which received the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award for its significant contribution to legal literature. 

Villagran joined the iSchool ­­­­­­­­­­faculty in 2018. She teaches INFO 200 Information Communities and is a faculty advisor for graduate students enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science degree program.