Suzanne McMillan – 1987-2011

I have so many wonderful, fun and funny memories of LBPL,  its staff and patrons. Here are a few of my favorites: – Being from another library system, when I first started at Main Library as a brand new Department Librarian, I had a lot to learn about the pecking order at LBPL. Supervisor’s meeting was a great place to learn. I had not been at LBPL for even a month before we had a “Pied Piper” program where the Pied Piper led dozens of children on parade throughout the whole Main Library, upstairs and down. At the supervisor’s meeting the following week, Barbara Davis announced in no uncertain terms that the program was a “disgrace”, and if her grandchildren had attended a program like that, she would have sued the library. Clearly, I knew right then that I was the bottom of the pecking order and Barbara Davis was the top. – Barbara Davis’ powerful presence asserted itself again early in my tenure at Main. I had noticed a big standing globe over near the Social Sciences desk. I thought it would be perfect for the Children’s Department and surely no one would mind if I just moved it over – which I did. When Barbara saw that the globe was missing from the Social Sciences Department, her thunderous glowering disapproval was quickly apparent. She came striding over to Children’s, summarily grabbed the globe and rolled it back to Social Science, where it remained under her stern guard until her retirement. – There are many notable patrons who were regulars at Main Library, but my favorite one of all has got to be the “Giantess Guy.” His personal appearance alone set him apart. Very […]

Kerry Martin – 1987-2004

Working for the library was one of my favorite jobs, and I’ve had quite a few. A very worthwhile place with a lot of worthwhile people. One time Tien Tran, Charlotte Blaire-Reynolds, Greg Reynolds and I went to a movie Tien wanted us to see. A Star Wars movie was playing at the same time and I thought about going to see it again instead, but Tien dragged me along and I’m glad he did. It was about a kid who could see ghosts but you didn’t realize that until the startling end of the movie. Wow! That night as I was getting ready to hit the sack I looked through my patio window blinds as I always did, and if I would have seen someone looking through the window at me I would have gone straight through my ceiling! A good job at a good place with good friends and good times. Kerry 12/20/2017

Eleanore Schmidt – 1989-2008, City Librarian 1998-2008

THE NEW MARK TWAIN NEIGHBORHOOD LIBRARY FROM DREAM TO REALITY: 1958 – 2007   A 50 year old dream was realized at the grand opening of the new Mark Twain Neighborhood Library in 2007 with three “firsts” for Long Beach : · 1st 21st century library · 1st neighborhood library to be built in over 35 years · 1st LEED (“green”) public building (LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Among the many dignitaries attending the opening was Mark Twain himself. He rarely leaves the Elysian Fields but made an exception for this very special occasion. The story of how the library came to be built is full of twists and turns with many challenges along the way but seemingly always guided by a guardian angel. A new library to replace the old branch had been a dream for over 50 years, since the library was carved out of a Parks and Recreation facility in 1958 as a “temporary” facility. The library was so “temporary” that it didn’t even have a public bathroom! Patrons had to use restrooms in the adjacent park with library staff providing escort services to youngsters! The population had grown from a small, largely African-American community of 12,000 in 1970 to a year 2000 population of over 60,000. The ethnic breakdown in 2000 was 54% Hispanic, 22% Asian (Cambodian, Vietnamese), 22% Caucasian and 15% African-American. The population was also young, with more than 44% of residents 19 years of age or younger. It was also one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Beach with the lowest educational level. A majority were learning English as a second language. Neighborhood problems include high crime, gang activity, a high poverty level, unemployment and […]

Ed Mascarenas – 1989-2018

            It is always hard to lose a loved one, especially one who has become part of your “at work family.”  It is even more difficult when that “work family” member dies suddenly.  Such was the case with Edward Lee Mascarenas, who we all knew as Ed.  He was at work on a Thursday, and died the following Saturday, February 3, 2018, of the flu.             Ed was born on July 3, 1971, in Harbor City, California, and began his career at Long Beach Public Library on August 14, 1989 as a Page.  In November 1991 he was promoted to Library Clerk, working mainly at the Main Library, but happily accepting deployment to neighborhood libraries as needed. He was a music lover and a “go to” person if you wanted to know anything about musicians or musical groups.  He was also an avid movie goer and could tell you more than you wanted to know about certain films.             Eileen Hunter summed up the feeling of many in her comment to Ed, published in the February 8, 2018 issue of the library’s Check it Out – “Thinking of the library without Ed is strange. It’s like someone lifted out a piece of the building and then asked us to pretend it isn’t missing.” Charlotte Blaire-Reynolds added – “Edward was such a sweet man. He was a fixture at the Library…The Library will forever be an emptier place without him. We love you, Edward.”             Ed was honored at the February 6, 2018, City Council meeting. For more about Ed please go to:

Charlotte Blaire-Reynolds – 199?-to date

“A Summer Picnic Remembered” by Charlotte M. Blaire-Reynolds    When I was very young, a teen, I began my career with the Long Beach Public Library. The staff was really a close knit bunch, from Administration to Pages. Everyone interacted and everyone cared about the library and each other. It was a wonderful time. We had a decent amount of staff, who all felt valued. Communication was good. The library thrived because staff were happy and took pride in their jobs, therefore patrons were happy. I hear it was even better before I got there.    When I started with LBPL, co-workers had a bowling league, and there were many parties on and off site. Morale was high.    I attended my first professional baseball game and first hockey game with Library staff; anyone who wanted to attend, did. These sports events were usually organized by the witty Pat Reynolds. (Staff was all so friendly, that years later, Pat’s son, Greg, became my husband and then he went on to become a librarian at Los Angeles Public Library.) We had huge groups go to Dodgers games, smaller groups go to the L.A. Kings games. Staff went to Angels games later on, too.    There were numerous Library dinners. I had my first Thai food (thanks to Madeline Pratt) and first Indian food (thanks to Stace Aspey and Rick Zaun).    I quickly became very involved in planning events, like Summer Picnics.    The staff had off-site Summer Picnics every year. By the time I came onto the scene, our choices were El Dorado Park or the Rancho Los Cerritos. Everyone turned out from the Main Library and from branch libraries to attend these lively gatherings.    My little story revolves around the […]

Shirley Knudson – 1991-1994

Water, Water Everywhere On President’s Day, 1992, a City holiday, I received a phone call at home telling me there was water coming from the library onto the Plaza. I called Michael Williams, the Custodial Supervisor and asked him to call in his crew. The water was coming from a broken fire line under the library building. The assumption was that the water had been leaking for sometime and finally reached capacity and burst under the windows in the Children’s Department. Water was ankle deep in Children’s and it was literally raining in the Government Publications backroom. Once the water was turned off, City Hall maintenance and fire crews moved vulnerable equipment and began wet vacuuming the water. The next morning we contracted with a company who specialized in flood cleanup. They were quick to act and had equipment in place by that afternoon. The air conditioning was turned down to maximize cooling to help pull moisture out of the air. Giant fans and dehumidifiers were set in place. It was very cold and windy in the basement hallway. The Library was closed to the public for a week. I remember meeting Diane Erdelyi in the hallway. She had this huge grin and asked if we could stay closed longer. “I’m getting so much weeding done.” (Cannot recall the date – assume 1994) Someone dropped by my office to tell me “there’s a problem in the auditorium reception area. I walked over to see mud, about 3 inches deep, oozing from the auditorium. I called Building Services, donned my trusty flood boots and checked things out. It looked like the movie The Blob, as thick mud oozed over the stage to the floor and enveloped the […]

Evelyn Matzat – 1993-to date

I was hired in May of 1993 to work in Literature and History, the department which Claudine Burnett headed. In the department, we each had different areas of responsibility. Mine was to construct every month two lists, one of new mysteries, one of new non-fiction history from which the 11 branches and Main would select their purchases. The lists were constructed from Publishers’ Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus. My job meant that I had to immerse myself in the two areas of the Library I loved the most, mysteries and history. Each of us also took our turns at the L&H reference desk on the south side of the main floor. I remember so distinctly the day I was manning this desk, working on my lists and occasionally turning to glance at the Queen Mary, thinking how very lucky I was! Being able to see the Queen Mary, a real Long Beach icon, was a treat- and an everyday occurrence at the Main Library. This was before all the “new” construction on the south side of Ocean Blvd. blocked the view. This was my dream job. Claudine must have had mystical powers! When I arrived at work the morning of September 11, 2001, I had no idea what was happening. Someone told me to go down to the video room. The place was hushed as a group of employees watched the destruction of the Twin Towers. Although many were in the room, the only one I remember is Hilde Lu, the music librarian in the Art Department. What a horrible day and month that was as more and more information unfolded and had to be processed. As a result, we felt on high alert for […]

Rubi Sobieski – 1994-2005

Cleaning the Staff Refrigerators You may remember that in the late 1990s every department was assigned one day each month to clean out the refrigerators in the staff lounge – not always a pleasant job to remove leftover or forgotten food! Needless to say, sometimes cleaning day was “accidentally” forgotten, thus making the job even more distasteful for the next person. Well, it was Stace Aspey’s turn that fine June day, but Stace must have been expecting the worst, so he dressed for the occasion. When he walked into the administration office wearing goggles, a masks over his nose, a full-body cover-up, shoe covers, rubber gloves and carrying a bucket, he had Cordelia Howard (Director), Eleanore Schmidt (Main Manager) and the Administrative staff in stitches laughing. I still chuckle to myself whenever I think about that day.

Chenda Yong – 1995-to date

     It might be helpful to understand my connection to the library with an understanding of my upbringing and immigrant journey. I was born in Cambodia in 1972, and grew up in the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge. It wasn’t until I arrived at a Thai refugee camp in Khao I Dang, that I was introduced to the concept of reading. It may be hard for people in the United States to understand how lucky they are to be exposed to reading and learning at a young age. There is a whole generation of Cambodian refugees who grew up with little to no literacy. When I came to the United States in 1980, I didn’t know how to read or write in English or Khmer. I only knew how to answer yes or no in English, and I could recite the English alphabet up to the letter F. It wasn’t until the 10th grade that I became aware of how reading and education could transform and broaden one’s perspective. I was an honor student at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, but college never seemed possible for me because most other Khmer students in my neighborhood did not go to college. My best friend in high school, Sarom Trinh, found out that I had started working at a sewing factory after graduation. She encouraged me to apply to Long Beach City College. At LBCC, I decided to pursue education as a nurse. After completing most of my nursing classes, I decided that I didn’t want to be a nurse. So prior to my last semester I dropped out of the nursing program. I had a hard time determining what to do next, […]

Steve Quinney – 1997-to date

The Library and the Union (IAM) The IAM involvement really stemmed from a group of Branch Librarian DLI’s pushing for equality with Main DLII’s. A group of Branch Librarians around 2005 felt that we had at least as much responsibility (being in charge of stand-alone buildings without security) as the Main Department Heads. I think it was mainly Karen Cressy, Sue Taylor, Karol Seehaus, Lynda Fritz and myself (I may be missing a few). We put together a lot of documentation and statistics that were presented to Human Resources. Eventually we won a compromise where Librarians at bigger / busier Branches (Eldo, North, Harte, Dana…I think!) were promoted to DLII (possibly 2006). As a result of all our meetings, Karol and I realized that Library staff needed better representation and presence with the IAM. Library involvement with the Union had been very minimal up to that point. We both became Union Stewards and started having Labor / Management meetings to discuss and resolve staff issues. When the IAM contract came up for negotiation in 2006/2007, Karol and I joined the Contract Negotiation Committee with all the other represented City Departments. I believe that was the first time Library staff was represented at the negotiation table. Karol in particular made a huge impression with both the IAM and the City. Karol’s tenacity, passion and persuasive arguments won the respect of both sides of the table. Karol served on at least one more round of negotiations (2009 and 2011) before she retired in 2012. and I’ve served on the two most recent rounds of negotiations (2013 and 2016). Regular Labor / Management meetings continue and have resulted in many issues, big and small, getting resolved.