University of Pittsburgh
April 25, 2002

Following in Others' Footsteps SIS graduate hopes to continue mother's, mentor's work

Contact:  412-624-4147

April 25, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Marva Bryant never thought she would follow in her mother's footsteps and become a librarian, but Pitt's School of Information Sciences (SIS) has enabled her to do just that.

While a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Bryant, who graduates 1 p.m. Sunday at Mellon Arena with the Master of Library and Information Science degree, has been actively involved with minority recruitment and retention in SIS.

Growing up in Huntsville, Ala., Bryant sometimes went to work with her mother, a librarian at Alabama A&M University, where she spent hours reading books. At a young age, she realized the importance of reading and made it her goal to promote literacy in young people.

After earning the Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Alabama A&M University, Bryant decided the best way to encourage reading among youth was to obtain a master's degree and become a librarian. She began searching for a graduate school via the Internet, and SIS' Web site caught her attention.

"I was really impressed by all the things it (SIS) was doing to recruit minorities into the field of library science and to improve diversity in the field," said Bryant.

Something else at Pitt caught her attention: E.J. Josey, professor emeritus in Pitt's Department of Library and Information Science (LIS).

Bryant knew of Josey and his work in desegregating libraries and the American Library Association (ALA) in the 1960s and had seen him, from a distance, at an ALA conference in the Summer of 2000, when her mother pointed him out.

"He was like a celebrity to her," Bryant recalled.

Today, Josey is more than a distant figure to Bryant; he has become her mentor.

Since entering the LIS program in the Fall of 2000, Bryant has worked closely with Josey. Most recently, the two, along with several other graduate students from SIS, organized and implemented a two-day trip to Lincoln and Cheyney universities, to recruit minority undergraduate students.

"She's a take-charge person and loves to be goal-oriented and see things through," said Josey. "There are some students you hate to see graduate, and she's one. While I'm delighted for her, her departure is sad for us."

As a graduate student assistant, Bryant has worked under the guidance of Susan Alman, coordinator of professional development in SIS. Alman appointed Bryant to help reestablish the Minority Resource Office (MRO) that existed in SIS during the 1970s and '80s.

Within several months, Bryant opened the doors to MRO and spent time collecting resources and making them available to minority students. With Bryant's help, the office has become a gathering place for SIS students, where she and other office workers provide emotional support, guidance, and resource materials.

Bryant also sits on the Affirmative Action Committee for SIS, working with faculty and staff to implement minority recruitment and retention programs. Bryant said her involvement with the committee has been "an eye-opening experience, just being able to sit on a committee with other professionals in the department and seeing behind the scenes what takes place."

As a committee member, Bryant helped publicize and organize last fall's open house for SIS.

Last year, Bryant also helped Alman write a proposal that led to SIS receiving the 2001 Chancellor's Affirmative Action Award, which included a $2,500 prize.

E.J. Josey accepted the award on the school's behalf.

Bryant said her experiences at Pitt will influence her future work as a librarian, especially in her goal of promoting reading to young people.