Welcome Athena Jackson, Director of UCLA Library Special Collections

Please join us in welcoming Athena Jackson, our new director of UCLA Library Special Collections! Athena brings a passion for working with faculty, staff, students, donors, researchers and communities to her leadership role, as well as a background in expanding outreach and services, project management, exhibitions, collection development, and digitization.

Athena was most recently the Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair and head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Penn State University. Prior to that, Athena served as Associate Director of Special Collections at the University of Michigan Special Collections Library. Athena has also served as Special Collections Librarian at the University of Miami, Education and Outreach Librarian and Project Manager/Librarian for Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project at Louisiana State University, and North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project coordinator and archivist at the North Carolina State Archives. Jackson holds a Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas, and a BA in English from the University of Houston.

We asked Athena a few questions about joining our team at UCLA:

What goals/hopes do you have for this year as our new Director of Library Special Collections?
This year, my goal is to work closely with my team and colleagues across the library and campus to set a vision that reflects a space that engages in contemporary access, authentic inclusion, and provides transformative learning opportunities for all Library visitors and users of our collections. In March of 2020, we will have an articulated vision that will launch us into our new trajectory that aligns with the above goal.

How has your prior experience prepared you for this role at the UCLA Library?
Having held leadership positions in large institutions with analogous special collections settings, I am well-equipped to assess quickly local challenges with regard to strategic planning across the department while being mindful of the necessary time it will take for me to learn collections and work effectively in the UCLA ecosystem. To that end, I have been able to activate my responsibilities in ways that already illustrate my intentions for how the department’s goals will shape.

What things will you be tackling first?
I am currently in the process of a three-part agenda prior to the March 2020 vision announcement. Foremost, I am focused on getting well-acquainted with LSC team members in terms of their individual expertise and collective efforts currently taking place. Secondly, I am examining our budget and working closely with colleagues to connect how we are allocating resources and funding toward our many collections, projects, and activities. Third, I am assessing our spaces for more efficient and modernizing workflows across our busy department for a future design that situates the team members in proximity to their most closely connected colleagues and managers. None of this is taking place in a vacuum. The team has and will have ample opportunities to make suggestions, analyze current challenges, and offer insights about this important part of the library and where we want to focus and prioritize our work.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to? or What do you like to do outside of work?
I am reading as much as I can about LA and Southern California, all the information I can about our collections (which is something I relish in my down time), and watching whatever films or TV shows my son, Jake, a film studies senior at Penn State suggests to me.

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We are delighted to have Athena join the UCLA Library. You can contact her at athenajackson@library.ucla.edu.