UCLA Library has named Jennifer Osorio, who has 15 years of diverse experience in the campus library system, as the director of UCLA Library Special Collections, effective Feb. 1.
Osorio, who began her career at UCLA in 2007, is currently serving as both the interim director of special collections and head of international and area studies and librarian for Latin America and Caribbean studies, Spanish/Portuguese and ethnic studies.
“Over the past decade, Jennifer has gained a 360-degree perspective of the multiple needs of special collections, UCLA Library, faculty and students, and of the national and international research communities,” said Ginny Steel, the Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. “She has been instrumental in building stronger ties between special collections and library subject selectors to really help integrate special collections more seamlessly into UCLA Library services and collections offerings, and it’s this strength that sets her apart.”
Located in the Charles E. Young Research Library, special collections stewards UCLA’s collections of rare books, archives, manuscripts, photographs, oral histories and other rare and unique materials. Among the gems in the collection are:
- the Gladzor Gospels (1300-07), an exquisitely illustrated Armenian manuscript that has been displayed in numerous museum exhibitions;
- the Richard Neutra, Dion Neutra and A. Quincy Jones papers, documenting the work of some of the most important architects of the 20th century;
- the Japanese American Research Project Collection, one of the most significant collections of prewar documents related to the Japanese-American experience;
- the Wanda Coleman Papers, an influential voice from Los Angeles’s Black community and the city’s “unofficial poet laureate”;
- the Susan Sontag papers, a collection of materials related to the writer, filmmaker and philosopher’s projects as well as personal and professional correspondence and ephemera.
As the next director of library special collections, Osorio will provide strategic vision and leadership to the department, including strategic planning, implementation and operations. On a day-to-day level, Osorio will work closely with unit heads and others to manage budgets, initiate and oversee major facilities projects, oversee collections and collaborate with faculty, donors and the community.
In support of teaching, research and public service, Osorio said she plans to devote substantial energy to building a more equitable, transparent and cohesive department that prioritizes inclusive description, reducing barriers to access and developing a sustainable approach to collection building, management and outreach.
“Leading a dynamic and forward-thinking department and building collections that represent the diverse and vital communities in Los Angeles — a city that I love and call home — is a significant calling,” Osorio said. “While it is tempting to orient ourselves solely toward the past, I’m eager to work with my colleagues and the Bruin community to advance the acquisition, preservation, promotion and accessibility of UCLA’s world-class collections with an eye to the future, with a passion for fresh discoveries, new knowledge and creativity for intellectual, educational and other pursuits.”
The department advances research and knowledge creation by teaching others the significance of cultural heritage and the importance of primary research skills while ensuring that holdings are incorporated into all levels of the UCLA curriculum and made available to society at-large. A growing repository of digital surrogates of special collections materials can be found on the UCLA Library Digital Collections website and a suite of limited scanning and e-delivery services has been added for remote users.
“In a post-pandemic world that is increasingly digital, UCLA Library Special Collections will thoughtfully thread the needle between preserving and stewarding print collections for long-term use, and building a sustainable, vibrant, and active digital presence that increases access for diverse communities of users in ethical and transparent ways,” Osorio said.
Osorio currently serves on the international collections and content group for the Center for Research Libraries, a key working group charged with advising, guiding and implementing strategies related to CRL’s collections, services, programs and partnerships. She recently completed an appointment as a visiting program officer on the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Research Task Force, which examined the gap between the current role played by leaders of research libraries and the role those leaders want to/should take with their libraries. She is widely published and has presented or co-presented at more than 20 conferences and workshops on topics ranging from inspiring graduate student research and designing participatory workshops to preservation and digitization of cultural heritage materials, information embargoes and open access.
An alumna and first-generation college graduate, Osorio earned master’s degrees in library and information science and Latin American studies from UCLA. She completed her bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of Florida.
“Special collections are about people,” Osorio said. “What I care most about is providing a welcoming environment for our expert staff to connect UCLA Library Special Collections resources to students, faculty and all who will use them for intellectual, educational and other pursuits.”