School of Information Sciences

Mary Frances Cooper joins iSchool Board of Visitors


The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences (iSchool) is delighted to announce that Mary Frances Cooper, President and Director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), has joined our Board of Visitors. The Board of Visitors is one of the iSchool’s advisory groups, recommending both long-term strategies and short-term projects and is comprised of innovative leaders in higher education and industry from across the nation. Cooper said of her new role, “I’m absolutely pleased to join and I welcome the opportunity.”

As the newest member of the iSchool’s Board of Visitors, Cooper hopes to discover how CLP and the iSchool can develop a mutually beneficial relationship. Aware of the iSchool’s long history of training librarians who are leaders in the field, Cooper noted that she was especially excited for the opportunity to interface with the iSchool as “so many excellent people on staff at CLP have gone to the University of Pittsburgh for their library degrees and the consistent quality is impressive.”

Dean Larsen shares this excitement saying, “The iSchool is thrilled that Mary Frances Cooper has accepted our invitation to be a member of our Board. For more than one hundred years we have had close ties to CLP and we value that history. Throughout her career, Mary Frances has demonstrated an unfailing commitment to the public good and we at the iSchool are eager to work with her to that end.”

In the past four years, Cooper has achieved a great victory for the funding issues facing libraries nationwide. In 2011 she led a team of community advocates to champion a binding referendum to add a real estate tax in the City of Pittsburgh that directly funds CLP. Pittsburgh citizens turned out in force to support the tax and, by extension, their public libraries largely due to Cooper’s efforts leading Our Library, Our Future. Cooper considers this endeavor, which garnered the support of 72% of voters, to have been “a real group effort” that demonstrated “the library is something we all do together.” The success of this project continues to inspire the leadership, staff, board and even patrons of CLP three years later. Cooper says the CLP team “feels a great, renewed sense of pride and responsibility to meet the needs of the Pittsburgh community” as a result of the referendum.

This sense of service extends beyond her immediate role as Director and President of the CLP. Cooper is also involved with the County-City Library Service Panel, which “has been created to help guide the 21st Century Library Service decision-making process.” The panel released a report in July 2014 recommending increasingly centralized services for Allegheny County libraries as well as an allocation of funding resources to support this centralization.

Mary Frances Cooper is the 11th President and Director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, an institution with which the iSchool shares a long history. Cooper earned her Master of Science in Library Service from Columbia University’s School of Library Service and her Master of Education in Community Counseling from the University of Louisville. She has more than 30 years of experience in public libraries, having served as Deputy Director, Public Services, Branch Libraries for New York Public Library, as Chief of the Central Library at Minnesota Public Library, and as Assistant Director of the Louisville Free Public Library. In each of these positions, Cooper was directly responsible for multi-branch library operations among her many other responsibilities.

The iSchool is excited to begin working with Mary Frances Cooper when the Board of Visitors convenes for its annual meeting in September. Welcome, Mary Frances!

SIS News

SIS Faculty and students are leaders in the Information Professions. Their research, teaching, and projects are often newsworthy.