Dr. Michele Villagran to Serve as Cultural Diversity Expert on Core Team for IMLS Preservation Grant


The School of Information at San José State University is pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Michele Villagran was selected to serve as an expert on cultural diversity on the core team for the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant titled, “Destination Preservation: A Roadmap for Libraries Leading Participatory Archiving Projects.”

The two-year grant project, spearheaded by the University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston, aims to build an accessible, adaptable, and engaging “roadmap” to guide libraries of every kind and size through the process of collecting and preserving materials in partnership with their community members.

“I am honored and excited to bring my expertise on diversity to this project,” said Villagran, whose wealth of knowledge and experience with libraries and cultural intelligence will make her an asset to the team. She also brings West Coast representation to the core team, which includes additional representatives from Boston Public Library, Digital Commonwealth, Maine Historical Society, Massachusetts Archives, Metropolitan New York Library Council, Newark Public Library, and University of Massachusetts Boston.

Villagran said the core team had identified a gap in the diversity and inclusion domain of the project, and reached out to her after learning of her expertise from her webinar on cultural intelligence offered through the iSchool’s partnership with Lyrasis Learning. They sought to add an additional team member that would utilize a cultural lens through which to guide development of the project.

“This project is an opportunity to bring together diverse participants to celebrate, appreciate, support and document their communities’ cultural heritage,” Villagran said.

The grant project’s goal is to create an interactive online roadmap that will help libraries fill in gaps in knowledge, attitudes and practices to develop standards-and-community-based participatory archiving programs.

“The roadmap will enable stronger cultural and community resource sharing, and I believe it will connect more communities to share their own cultural heritage with the larger community,” said Villagran.

The roadmap will be flexible enough to allow libraries to enter at their current point of need, help them navigate the complexities of community partnerships, the digitization of event planning, and long-term digital preservation to support the vital work of documenting their communities’ cultural heritage.

Now in the first phase of the project, the core team is focusing on the knowledge, attitudes and practices of libraries and cultural organizations that are already doing participatory archiving events. By seeking input from librarians, archivists, museum professionals, historians, and others involved in cultural heritage work, who were invited to share their perspectives through an online survey, the team is well-equipped to develop a suite of resources that will empower libraries to plan participatory archiving programs with the communities they serve, preserve the resulting digital collections, and make those collections accessible to the public.

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