Carnegie Library director announces retirement at end of year
May 25, 2021
Mary Frances Cooper, MLS, president and director of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, has announced plans to retire at the end of the calendar year. She has held this position since January 1, 2012 when she became the 11th president and director to lead the 125-year-old organization.
In her role, Ms. Cooper is responsible for shaping the strategic operation of the city-wide, 19 branch system, which provides in-person and virtual services to engage the Pittsburgh community in lifelong literacy and learning. Throughout her tenure Ms. Cooper championed the changing and increasingly important role of libraries in society, led new efforts to secure avenues for sustainable funding and worked to strengthen the Library’s relationships with key community partners.
A nationally recognized library leader, Ms. Cooper oversaw a number of achievements for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, including leading the community engagement process that led to the success of Our Library, Our Future, a voter initiative that now provides more than $4.5 million annually for the city’s library services. She was instrumental in the creation of the county-wide Love Your Library fundraising initiative, which has raised more than $4.2 million for Allegheny County libraries since its inception.
Under her direction, the library completed a multi-year capital improvements program, in which 10 branches were renovated, including the construction of the first certified Passive House library in North America (CLP – Carrick). During the past decade, Ms. Cooper helped CLP expand its virtual programming and electronic offerings; introduced Wi-Fi hotspots and laptop lending; and strengthened services for children, teens and adults.
“I’m incredibly honored to have had the opportunity to work with so many creative and talented staff and am proud to have led Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Library system,” said Ms. Cooper. “The past ten years have been both exhilarating and challenging as we worked hard to diversify our funding streams, become more inclusive and equitable and bridge the digital divide that many in our community face.”
Ms. Cooper added, “I will continue to work closely with our board and management team during the final months of my tenure to facilitate a smooth transition of leadership.”
Commenting on Ms. Cooper’s announcement, Carnegie Library Board of Trustees Chair Patrick Dowd said, “Mary Frances Cooper’s passion for library service, lifelong learning and equality has supported the way our system responds to the needs of our community. Through her vision, the Library has built the infrastructure needed to serve a growing population of library users and create a model for a state-of-the-art library system.
“On behalf of our entire board, I want to thank Mary Frances for her leadership, especially during this last year, creativity in introducing new services to our community and career achievement. We wish her well as she steps into a new chapter. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees Vice Chair LaShawnda Thomas will chair the search committee.”
Prior to accepting her current role, Ms. Cooper served as the library’s deputy director for three years overseeing CLP’s Main Library and Neighborhood Library Services, Youth Services, Teen Services, Volunteer Services and Library of Accessible Media for Pennsylvanians. She also serves as the district administrator for the state-designated Pittsburgh Library District, which oversees support services supplied by the District Center to 45 independent libraries in Allegheny County.