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Archives and Special Collections: Archive of Melvin Sylvester - Home

Archives and Special Collections is a repository for materials contained in a variety of formats: books, manuscripts, correspondence, journals, photographs, posters, maps, original drawings, theatre programs, archival documents, and other materials.

History of the Archive of Melvin Sylvester

The Archive of Melvin Sylvester contains a collection of diverse materials acquired by Professor Melvin Sylvester during his time as the Head of Periodicals at the LIU Post Library. The collection is divided into two sections. The first section contains various materials related to his role as a librarian and instructor as well as his university and community activities. Materials in this collection pertain to an interesting time period in the evolution of libraries in the 1970s and 1980s when the transformation from an analog to a digital society first began. One of the larger topics covered by this collection is various library technologies and information on the automation of library functions in general. Other subject areas of interest are African-American history, Periodicals, Library Instruction, his role as a mentor to students, and his involvement in a multitude of committees and activities at LIU Post.

The second section is an archive of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity which he amassed during his time as the faculty advisory of the Theta Kappa Chapter on the LIU Post Campus. The archive contains a collection of periodicals from both the campus and the national organization as well as some other fraternity-related periodicals. It also contains numerous papers and correspondence related to the campus chapter, including various manuals and handbooks, rosters, alumni lists, chapter rankings, and ephemera. (See also the Archive of LIU Post Fraternities on the Archives and Special Collections website.)

Prepared by Jaime Barrett, MSLIS, JD
August, 2016

Biography of Professor Melvin Sylvester

Melvin Sylvester was a librarian and professor at LIU Post for over 40 years. He was the first African-American librarian at LIU Post and devoted a significant amount of time to research and writing about African-American issues. During his time at Post he served as Head of the Periodicals department, taught library skills workshops, maintained a web site devoted to African-American issues, served on a number of committees, and was active with a number of community service oriented projects both through his position at LIU Post as well as in his home community. He served as a mentor to students throughout his tenure at LIU Post. Sylvester was also active with the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity on campus, and served as the faculty advisor for the Theta Kappa Chapter.

Melvin Sylvester earned his bachelor's degree in Natural Sciences from Dillard University in 1961. He spent the next academic year in the Dillard University library in charge of Circulation and also worked as a reference librarian. He came to LIU Post in June of 1962. In 1964 he was appointed Head of the Periodicals Department. He began at the rank of instructor and was promoted to assistant professor in 1969, was granted tenure in 1973, and was made an associate professor in 1976. He earned two masters degrees at LIU as well. In 1966 he earned his M.S.L.S in College and University Libraries from the Palmer School, and in 1973 he earned an M.S. in Education (Guidance and Counseling). Professor Sylvester taught numerous courses as a guest lecturer at LIU including Library Instruction Coursework, as well as a graduate level course on Serials Management in the Palmer School of Library Science.

Professor Sylvester was very involved both with extra-curricular activities with the university as well as in his community. He served on a number of committees including: the Advisory Board of the HEOP/MLK Program, the Student Affairs Appeals Board, the Budget Committee, the Racial Awareness Group, the Orientation and Counseling Committee, and the Pre Medical Committee. He also served as Chairperson of the Affirmative Action Committee. Professor Sylvester also served as faculty advisor for the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, the African People's Organization Fraternity and Sorority Committee, and the Caribbean African Student Association. He was also very involved with the United Way.

Outside of LIU, Professor Sylvester was involved in a number of associations and activities including serving as a Library Trustee for the Glen Cove Public Library and on committees such as the Education Committee and the Committee on the Handicapped for the Glen Cove School District. Other activities in his community included serving as a member of the Education Committee for the Glen Cove Boy's Club.

Melvin Sylvester retired from LIU Post in 2005 and was awarded Professor Emeritus status. Upon retirement he and his wife moved to Georgia.

Prepared by Jaime Barrett, MSLIS, JD
August, 2016

Professional Timeline. Professor Melvin Sylvester: 1961 - 2005

1961 B.A. in Natural Sciences from Dillard University
1961 Worked at Dillard University - Circulation and Reference Librarian
1962 Began working at C.W. Post - Librarian and Instructor
1964 Head of Periodicals
1964 Faculty Advisor for the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, C.W. Post Chapter
1966 M.S.L.S. - Palmer School of Library Science at C. W Post
1969 Assistant Professor - C. W. Post Library
1970 Member of the Melvil Dewey Marching and Chowder Association
1971 Member - Palmer School of Library Science's Professional Association
1973 M.S. in Education (Guidance and Counseling) from LIU
1974 Member - Advisory Board of the HEOP/MLK Program (LIU)
1974 Included in Who's Who in the East 15th ed. (1975 - 1976)
1975 Included in Who's Who Among African Americans
1975 Member - Nassau County Library Association
1976 Associate Professor
1976 Chairperson of the Space Utilization Committee
1977 Presentation: "The Best Sellers Luncheon" sponsored by the English Department on the topic of Roots by Alex Haley at both LIU and the Patchogue-Medford Public Library
1978 Served on the Committee of the handicapped for Glen Cove Public Schools
1979 Education Committee of the Glen Cove Public Schools
1979 Education Committee of the Glen Cove Boy's Club
1979 Faculty Recognition Award
1979 Student Affairs Appeals Board at C. W. Post
1981 Public Service Award from Malik Sigma Psi Fraternity
1981 Library Budget Committee at C. W. Post
1981 Member - Racial Awareness Group at LIU Post
1981 Faculty Advisor for the African People's Organization Fraternity and Sorority Committee
1981 Keynote speaker for Nobility Night at the C. W. Post Campus Chapel where he gave a speech on "Growing Together in Unity"
1982 Orientation and Counseling Committee at LIU Post
1982 Continuing Education class on "Computers in the Libraries" at Pratt University
1982 Secretary of the Library Department Heads Committee
1982 Included in Who's Who in Library and Information Services
1982 Member - American Library Association
1983 Pre Medical Committee at C. W. Post
1983 Member - Greater New York Metropolitan Chapter of ACRL
1983 Continuing Education class on "Current Trends in Library Automation" at Pratt University
1983 Took a course on "Fundamentals of Information Science" at the Palmer School
1983 Moderator - panel discussion on the topic of "Applications and Problems of Serials Control in Research Libraries"
1983 Advisor and liaison to Dr. Edward Cook, President of Long Island University, for minority recruitment/networking at the Post Campus
1983 Representative of the library profession at the Glen Cove High School Annual Career Fair
1983 Part of "One Hundred Black Men of Nassau/Suffolk County"
1983 Acted as a Surrogate Parent for the Committee on the Handicapped at Glen Cove Schools
1984 Received the 20 Year Medal for Service to Long Island University
1984 Chairperson of the Affirmative Action Committee
1984 Faculty Advisor for the Caribbean African Student Association
1984 Presented a speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. titled "The Man We Least Understood"
1984 Presented a speech as part of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity's Evening of Togetherness with the theme "The Importance of Education"
1984 Recognized by Mayor Vincent Suozzi and the Glen Cove Office of Senior Citizens as one of the honorees during Black History Month
1984 Appointed by the Mayor of Glen Cove as a Trustee of the Glen Cove Public Library
1984 Was among a group of librarians and library trustees who met with Congressman Robert J. Mrazek to discuss funding and legislation for Long Island libraries
1985 Curator, "Black Experience in America" exhibit at C. W. Post
1986 Served on the Instruction Committee at Post
1986 Delivered the keynote speech, "The Black Male in America: Looking for a Balanced Menu", at the Alpha Angels Sorority tribute to black men.
1986 Lecture: "The South African Issue of Apartheid - Seeking a Suitable Resolution Without Conflict" - Summer Speakers Series at LIU Post.
1987 Campaign Committee for the United Way at Post
1988 Admissions and Allocations Committee for the United Way
1988 Served as a juror in Nassau County
1988 Attended the American Library Association Conference in New Orleans
1998 Presented the keynote address, "The Development of Republicanism and Its Impact on the Lives of African Americans," to the Hempstead Republican Club.
1988 Participated in a study group regarding the implementation of the "Long Island University Plan"
1999 Taught Sociology 66, "The African American Experience," during the Fall semester.
2000 Wrote a biography of Actor Cleavon Little for the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains which was published by the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska
2005 Retired from LIU Post

Prepared by Jaime Barrett, MSLIS, JD
August, 2016

Melvin Sylvester

Melvin Sylvester at a 2005 celebration of Langston Hughes.

Melvin Sylvester at a 2005 celebration of Langston Hughes.

Contact Information

Archives and Special Collections

B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library
LIU Post Campus
Long Island University
Brookville, NY 11548

Telephone: (516) 299-2880

Email: jarron.jewell@liu.edu

Hours: 9:00-5:00, Monday-Friday

Melvin Sylvester, 1962

Melvin Sylvester in June 1962.

Melvin Sylvester in June 1962.

Melvin Sylvester, 1963

Mel Sylvester with student Allan Howell in April 1963.

Mel Sylvester with student Allan Howell in April 1963.

Melvin Sylvester, 1978

Mel Sylvester in the Library Periodicals Department in 1978.

Mel Sylvester in the Library Periodicals Department in 1978.

Melvin Sylvester, 1991

Mel Sylvester and graduate student Thomas from Taiwan in May 1991.

Mel Sylvester and graduate student Thomas from Taiwan in May 1991.

Melvin Sylvester, 2005

Mel Sylvester and Dean of University Libraries, Don Ungarelli, at Mel's birthday party on March 24, 2005.

Mel Sylvester and Dean of University Libraries, Don Ungarelli, at Mel's birthday party on March 24, 2005.