Meet Matt Beatty, Ocean Beach Library Branch Manager
Where did you grow up?
“I grew up in Central Wisconsin in a small town named Ripon, which is near Oshkosh and Appleton. People there believe in God, deer hunting and The Green Bay Packers, though not necessarily in that order. I never felt I belonged there and spent a lot of time escaping through reading.”
What was your path to the position of Branch Manager at the OB Library?
“I didn’t get the grades I would have liked in college because I was always in the library reading something else besides what I was supposed to be studying. I spent a year reading about advertising, but never took a course about it, for instance. When I graduated, it seemed natural to study to be a librarian as the library was where I spent all my time. While I was in library school in Madison, I was interviewed for a job in Philadelphia. I decided to move there because I thought Philadelphia was very near the ocean. This proved untrue. I eventually became a library manager, managing seven different libraries in my time there.
Ultimately, I decided to move to the West Coast. I got a job managing a library in Poway. A few days after arriving there, I drove to the Pacific Ocean, winding up at the South Beach Bar on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. It had a view of the pier. I fell in love with Ocean Beach immediately and decided to move here — even before my fish tacos arrived. That was Jan. 9, 2001. I got a job with the City of San Diego to be closer to Ocean Beach, moved here, and lucked into a job managing the Ocean Beach Library two years later.
I moved to a little studio 50 feet from the pier. I felt at home for the first time in my life.”
Are you married? Got kids?
“I married a woman who moved to Ocean Beach from Philadelphia to be with me. She died 10 years ago. I do not think I will remarry. I have a step daughter in Philadelphia.”
What is the status of the OB Library expansion project?
“We are in the Design Phase of the project. Studies have been done on the City-owned property next door, and preliminary drawings have been completed. There is money allocated by the City for the project, but more money will be needed for the project to be completed. I feel sure that we will have a new library in Ocean Beach within the next five years.”
What programs are lacking at the OB Library that you would like to see added?
“I’d like to bring back crafts for babies and toddlers. We had a great program a couple of years ago, but had to stop it because we stopped receiving a private donation that paid for it. I would also like to someday have actual garden plots we could have customers use in coordination with our Seed Library. I’m hoping something like that can be worked into the new OB Library’s plans.”
What books are on your nightstand?
“I recently read ‘The Three Musketeers.’ It was quite unlike any movie version I have seen — much more ribald and mature, with a nasty and unexpected ending. I’m currently reading a science fiction novel called ‘The Fall’ by Neal Stephenson. It has a quite unexpected take on the afterlife.”
What is the best thing about your job?
“Sometimes libraries can really change lives. It makes me happy when we can connect someone with a job, or someone they’ve lost track of, or a book they haven’t seen since they were a child.”
What is the worst thing about your job?
“The worst thing is that the building is too small to do everything our customers want. We can’t have quiet studying and a library program at the same time. We also have times where it’s difficult for tutors and children to work together. Someday, I hope we have a library with a meeting room and private study rooms. We really should be able to provide all three of these services at the same time.”
What’s one thing you want people to know about OB Library that most folks don’t know?
“We have the largest Seed Library in San Diego County. Anybody who walks in can pick up a half dozen packets of seeds for a garden.”
How would you spend a $5,000 gift to the library — no strings attached?
“I would apply it to our matching programming fund. It would pay for the crafts for babies and toddlers I want to bring back, as well as several other programs.”