Director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center
Cheylon Woods is the Head of Ernest J. Gaines Center, Archivist, and Associate Professor in the Edith Garland Dupre Library. Throughout her scholarly career, Mrs. Woods received her Masters of Library and Information Science from Louisiana State University, her Masters in Heritage Resources from Northwestern State University, and a dual bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from Louisiana Tech University. Mrs. Woods is also a 2011 Institute of Museum & Library Studies fellow, where she worked as an archivist with HistoryMarkers (an oral history archive based out of Chicago) and the Alabama State Department of Archives and History. As a fellow Cheylon actively worked with communities and prominent figures across the country to fill in information gaps related to African American history in the state of Alabama. As the Head and Archivist of the Ernest J. Gaines Center, Cheylon has continued this work by facilitating the documentation, preservation, and dissemination of Rural Black communities throughout South Louisiana, like those represented in the work of Dr. Ernest J. Gaines. On UL Lafayette’s campus, Cheylon is on numerous committees-most notably the Diversity Advisory Committee-and works, and actively serves as the faculty advisor for the UL student chapter of the NAACP. Cheylon is also the only library faculty member to obtain Graduate Faculty status at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Mrs. Woods also created and maintains an academic blog about the work of Ernest J. Gaines to help bridge the Humanities information gap many international students encounter during their research.
Off-campus, Cheylon is actively engaged in numerous professional and community organizations. As a current member of the Louisiana Historical Record Advisory Board, Mrs. Woods works with archivists across the state to ensure Louisiana’s history is accessible and well preserved in every parish. Cheylon is also a founding board member of the Iberia African American Historical Society, and actively works with community organizations interested in building cultural spaces/museums in Acadiana. She is a member of Phi Alpha Theta, Society of American Archivists, Louisiana Library Association, the Association of the Study of African American Life and History, Louisiana Archives and Manuscript Association, and the Society of Southwest Archivist, to name a few. She has presented research at numerous national and local annual meetings, as well as designing and executing public programs focusing on topics like education, civil rights, gender roles, and Southern and African American literature. In 2021 her first edited text Through Mama’s Eyes: Unique Perspectives on Southern Matriarchy was published, and this was a co-edited collection with Dr. Kiwana McClung. Cheylon has also published scholarly articles about ethnic museums and libraries as sites of experiential learning and continued education in the archival profession. In addition to continuing to further her knowledge and encourage conversations on and related to the works of Dr. Ernest J. Gaines, Cheylon is currently working towards a PhD. in Folklore and researching diversity, equity, and inclusion in information repositories as well as the Ernest J. Gaines in the world of digital pedagogy.
Ernest J. Gaines Center Library Specialist