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June 12, 2008

Obituary: Amy E. Knapp

Amy E. Knapp, assistant university librarian in the University Library System (ULS), died May 31, 2008, after a long battle with cancer. She was 46.

Friends and colleagues described Knapp as a dedicated employee and teacher who battled her disease valiantly and who will be missed deeply.

A native of Titusville, Knapp graduated from Titusville Area High School in 1980. She earned a BA in English literature in 1984, an MA in English literature in 1987, a Master of Library and Information Science in 1990 and a PhD in library science in 1999, all from Pitt. In addition, Knapp earned a certificate of achievement of MBA essentials at the Katz Graduate School of Business Center for Executive Education in 2003.

She started her career at ULS as an undergraduate student in the 1980s. In 1990, she was a Semester at Sea librarian. She was a database services librarian 1992-94, then was promoted to coordinator of library instruction, a position she held until 2002 when she was appointed assistant university librarian. In that capacity, Knapp managed ULS’s Public Services Division and the departmental libraries.

Along with her ULS duties, Knapp was a popular adjunct professor at the School of Information Sciences, where she taught courses including Social Sciences Resources, Information Retrieval, Government Information Resources and Library Instruction. As a result of her teaching style and popularity, Knapp won various teaching and faculty recognition awards.

She also served on various committees at the University including the Senate educational policies committee and the Senate ad hoc committee for the support and advancement of women, as well as committees for new faculty orientation, parking and governance.

Recently, Knapp co-authored a book with Hillman University Librarian and ULS director Rush Miller and Elizabeth J. Wood of Bowling Green State University entitled “Beyond Survival: Managing Academic Libraries in Transition.” The book, published in 2007, focuses on the changing nature of academic libraries and the management of change in a time of transition.

Knapp was a member of the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries and served on many of their committees. She was an expert on government documents and presented at various workshops and conferences, including in China, Italy, France and Australia.

Knapp also was committed to the Bloomfield community where she resided. On various holidays, she served meals at local food pantries.

According to ULS’s Miller, “Amy Knapp epitomized the best traits of a librarian and a human being. She cared deeply about the needs of others and dedicated her professional and personal lives to meeting human and informational needs. Her enthusiasm and positive approach infused all who knew her. She was a woman of great intellect and accomplishment, but a person of deep humility. She played a pivotal role in most of the positive changes we have witnessed in the ULS over the past decade and one-half. Amy was greatly loved and appreciated by colleagues around the world and we will miss her tremendously. She leaves us all with a rich legacy and a set of wonderful ideals to live up to.”

Fern Brody, associate university librarian who had worked with Knapp since the early 1980s, said, “Amy was a very dear friend. As a co-worker, I appreciated her attitude toward public services. She personified the welcoming attitude that we’ve stressed and that helps maintain the popularity of the library among the Pitt community. She conveyed that to all the staff.”

Patricia Duff, head of the Interlibrary Loan Department, said Knapp was “a tough cookie. She knew that she wanted to be a librarian very early on from her undergraduate days, when she worked for me. I like to say she came full circle: She worked for me in the early ’80s and by the end I was working for her. I knew she was going places; she just had that aura. She was a really great boss. You could talk things out with her. She was well loved and will be greatly missed.”

Ann McLeod, head of Hillman access services who worked for Knapp for the past five years, said, “What I’ll miss and what I remember about Amy is her quick wit and the way she cared so much about what she did, which was very obvious to everybody. She also was a very caring person.”

Knapp is survived by her father, Howard L. Knapp III; her stepmother, Pamela Knapp; two brothers, Howard L. Knapp IV and his wife Tammy, who is a Pitt-Titusville staff member, and Daniel E. Knapp and his wife Tina, and four stepbrothers, Aaron Beach and his wife Teri, Shawn Beach and his wife Amy, Chad Beach, and Scott Beach and his wife Lorraine, all of Titusville.

An award is being established by ULS that will be given annually to a librarian who epitomizes the ideals that Knapp lived by. A campus memorial service also is being planned.

A scholarship is being established in Knapp’s name at Pitt-Titusville, where Knapp started her undergraduate studies. Contributions should be sent to: Dr. Amy E. Knapp Scholarship Fund, c/o 11378 Willey Road, Titusville, PA 16354.

—Peter Hart

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