Athena N. Jackson has been named UCLA’s Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. Her appointment will begin March 1.

Jackson, the former director of special collections at UCLA Library, has served since 2021 as dean of libraries at the University of Houston, where she holds the Elizabeth D. Rockwell Chair.

Over her career, Jackson has led major efforts to increase and promote access to library resources through modern channels, support inclusive practices, and provide transformative learning opportunities for those in academic communities.

“Our libraries play a critical role in the academic enterprise at UCLA,” said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Darnell Hunt, “and Chancellor Block and I are confident that Athena will provide outstanding leadership as university librarian.”

At the University of Houston, Jackson was responsible for oversight of the library’s administrative activities, a team of more than 125 and an annual budget of $21 million, providing programmatic and strategic leadership while playing a critical role in development activities. She was also active in open-scholarship dialogues at state and national levels, drawing on her rich background in rare and archival collections.

Among her key priorities as dean was collaborating across the university to ensure that libraries were inclusive spaces that fostered learning and creativity among all users, regardless of their backgrounds or identities — a mission she intends to continue at UCLA.

“To lead this world-class library in the vibrant city of Los Angeles reinforces my eagerness to embark on an era of inclusive excellence, striving for societal and global impact and an enduring commitment to education for students from many cultures and backgrounds,” Jackson said. “I look forward to contributing to the great work already taking place while helping to create positive change with, and in support of, our students, staff, faculty, community partners and administrators.”

During her time as UCLA’s director of library special collections and a member of UCLA Library’s management team from 2019 to 2021, Jackson’s leadership, oversight and strategic vision helped shape the future of the campus’s special collections and archives. She fostered innovative practices in response to a variety of challenges, including the preservation and conservation of material objects and digital records and the use of digital tools and methods to enhance the delivery of library collections.

Prior to joining UCLA Library Special Collections, Jackson served as Pennsylvania State University’s Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair and head of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, and as associate director of special collections at the University of Michigan’s Special Collections Library. She also worked as a special collections librarian at the University of Miami and as the education and outreach librarian and project manager for the Digitizing Louisiana Newspapers Project at Louisiana State University. Additionally, she was coordinator of the North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project and an archivist at the North Carolina State Archives.

Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Houston and a master’s in library and information science from the University of North Texas.

Jackson will succeed Ginny Steel, who has served as university librarian since 2013.