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Carnegie Library names Cooper as new leader

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh board has announced the hiring of Mary Frances Cooper as president and director to lead the 19-branch system during financially troubled times.

Cooper, deputy director since 2008, was one of three acting co-directors who led the system after Barbara K. Mistick resigned as president and director in May. Mistick became president of Wilson College in Chambersburg on July 1.

Lou Testoni, chairman of the Carnegie Library's Board of Trustees, said the board and search committee unanimously picked Cooper to lead the system. Cooper previously worked at public libraries in New York, Minneapolis and Louisville, Ky.

"Mary Frances is a respected library professional whose experience in urban library management will help catapult Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh into the next chapter of its history," he said in a prepared statement. "Throughout the search process, her qualifications in community leadership, planning and facilitation stood out as skills that will benefit the library greatly as we begin to plan strategically for the future."

She received a two-year contract starting at $170,000 a year with an option for a third year.

Two years ago, the board voted to close four branches because of rising expenses and a drastic cut in state revenue, but took that plan off the shelf in the wake of community resistance.

The board yesterday approved a 2012 operating budget of nearly $27.9 million that includes a 2.5 percent increase from the Allegheny Regional Asset District, increased gaming revenue and a conservative estimate of $3 million from the recently passed city library tax.

The annual public meeting will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. March 22 at the Lecture Hall of the Carnegie Library in Oakland.

Community meetings will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. next year on the following dates: April 23 at the Downtown and Business branch, April 24 at the Homewood Library, April 25 at the Knoxville Library, May 1 at the West End Library, May 2 at the Squirrel Hill Library and May 3 at the Woods Run Library.

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