Please join us in welcoming Neel Agrawal to the William H. Hannon Library! Neel is our new Digital Projects Librarian.
Prior to coming to LMU in mid-November, Neel was at the South Asian Open Archives, a research library and community cooperative of digital collections that he managed, integrating it into JSTOR’s open access platform. Neel has managed all aspects of digital collections work, from creation and preservation to access and interactive design.
In order to get to know Neel a little better, we asked him a few questions about coming to Loyola Marymount University:
What drew you to the world of libraries? How has your previous experience contributed to your new position here?
“Working in libraries and archives allows me to channel my passion for advancing social justice and equitable access to knowledge. I strongly believe that university libraries, such as the LMU Library, play a critical role in preserving cultural heritage and presenting our vital histories. When managing LMU’s digital collections, I draw on my diverse array of experiences that include launching the South Asia Open Archives (SAOA), overseeing LA Law Library’s deep collections of foreign and international law, and protecting the rights of marginalized communities at the ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project.”
What about this new role are you most excited about?
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to cultivate strong and lasting collaborations across campus, throughout LA, and beyond. I hope to make an impact on LMU’s multicultural and anti-racism initiatives, such as the Chavez Ravine Project highlighting the long history of displaced Mexican American communities in Los Angeles — told from the perspectives of residents themselves. Additionally, the Inclusive History & Images Project (IHIP) centers the overlooked stories involving Black, Latino/a and Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and differently embodied members of the LMU community. The LMU Library is at the forefront of these and so many other important projects that foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA).”
What have you been listening to, reading, or watching lately?
“I’ve been really into The Hidden History of Los Angeles podcast. As someone who has walked several thousands of miles exploring LA’s living history, I’m fascinated by the topics covering some of the lesser-known aspects of the city. I’d especially recommend Ken Bernstein’s interview about his book “Preserving Los Angeles: How Historic Places Can Transform America’s Cities” (episode 69) as well as the Origin of the Name “Echo Park” (episode 6).”
What is something about you that we would be surprised to learn?
“Music has played a central role in my life since childhood. As a percussionist and drummer, I compose and perform music in a variety of musical contexts. Major highlights include receiving the COLA Artist Fellowship from the City of LA Department of Cultural Affairs, performing with Lord Huron at Coachella, touring India with hip hop artists (sponsored by the U.S. State Department), and serving as the section leader of the renowned Michigan State University Drumline. As a music educator, I’ve been able to share my unique approach to percussion while helping to shape the lives of my students. Please check out my music website, including my recent performance at the Skirball Cultural Center (produced by Grand Performances).
Finally, Neel added:
“Over the coming years, I hope to continue building the African Drumming Laws project, documenting colonial laws regulating and criminalizing drumming across Africa. Specifically, I’ve collected and mapped over 100 laws regulating 120 drums across western Nigeria. This project was generously supported by LA Law Library, Harvard Library Innovation Lab, UCLA World Music Center, and LexisNexis. The next steps involve speaking with musicians that lived through this oppressive legal regime and creating a comprehensive compendium of the regulated drums. I hope this project inspires readers to adopt a wide and inclusive approach to their research projects.”
We are delighted to be adding Neel to our team at the library. Please join us in welcoming him to our campus community!