Evelyn Matzat – 1993-2020

Evelyn Matzat – 1993-2020

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 a couple of years. There was the man who phoned in threats almost weekly. The first time we received a threat we were evacuated to the basement of City Hall for a couple of hours. We later found out that if it was anthrax we should have been quarantined along with all the patrons in the library at the time. There was the white powder (whew, it wasn’t anthrax!) that was found on a shelf and also the memorable time that we used mirrors on short poles to search behind the books for powders or bombs. We were entrusted with this task since we “knew the area.”  Another time a neatly wrapped smallish box was found inside the front counter at Main.  The box turned out to be the tidily wrapped remains of a Japanese box lunch, left by visitors the previous day!

There was a monthly “Adult Book Meeting” attended by the Main and branch adult librarians during which almost every book on the order list was at least mentioned if not discussed in some detail. So useful because everyone could chime in with an opinion if they felt so inclined.

Oh, yes, in the time just prior to our current use of the internet, we had Archie and Veronica which helped us access Internet-type information. I remember having to exit using exactly the steps by which we entered, but in reverse.