OCEAN PARK — In retirement, Iver Matheson plans to catch up on his reading.
No surprise. He has spent decades helping others with theirs.
The career librarian has been a stalwart of the Ocean Park Timberland branch.
The consensus is the place won’t be the same without him.
Susan Carney, manager of the Ilwaco Timberland branch, was a colleague in Ocean Park for 15 years. She credits his leadership with steering the building through a period in which it doubled in size about 10 years ago.
When asked to describe him, she said, “Calm, quiet, a good sense of humor, helpful to the public and accommodating of staff.”
Matheson, 63, grew up in Hoquiam, graduating from high school in 1973, then studied history at Washington State University. He dabbled in animal science for a while before taking a personality test. “The match was librarian,” he said, recalling how his next studies took him to the University of Washington. “It was such a natural fit. I was surrounded by like-minded people — it was so exciting and refreshing for that to happen.”
Matheson’s first job was at the Pacific University Library, then he went back to Washington State for a couple of years — which he called “reference librarian boot camp.” He was hired by the Timberland regional system as a substitute back in Grays Harbor County, then, because he had a master’s degree, was hired for the Ocean Park post 23 years ago.
“It was a supervisory job. I always thought of myself as a reference librarian, but it has been a good fit,” he said. “I really like the people here. I have been fortunate to have an excellent team working with me.”
His first colleagues included Sue Cowel, Bill Tubbs and Fred Mattfield; sadly, the latter two have died.
While his career began when libraries were primarily book lending institutions and places for students to gain access to reference material, they have morphed into community hubs with computer access for all ages being central to their services.
“This is the way libraries are going in this country,” Matheson said. “I would hope that we do not get too far away from our original core mission, literacy and helping people find information, especially people preparing for jobs.”
Highlights at Ocean Park have been bringing in musicians and broadening services. “That’s been a lot of fun for me,” he said, though sometimes he is disappointed when staff arrange for programs on important topics like estate planning and no one shows up.
A fun element has been his trademark Hawaiian shirts. Inevitably, people attending his retirement party April 27 are being asked to wear their brightest ones.
“I came here with a collection of long-sleeved shirts, ties and sweater vests, but they really didn’t fit in this community. I just hung them up in my closet.” he explained. Hawaiian informality suited him, and they have brightened many December-January days. “I like the colors, especially in the winter months.”
Outside work, Matheson has served three years on the Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce Board.
“He is a very nice man,’ said Karen Boardman from the chamber, which treated him to cake in mid-April. “We have appreciated all his knowledge about the library and helpfulness on the board. He will be missed by the library, I am sure.”
Matheson has also worked closely with the Village Club, which is enjoying a resurgence. “They have brought a lot of new enthusiasm for doing things, like those daffodils — they are fabulous.” he said.
Bonnie Lou Cozby, club leader, commended Matheson for his zeal in working to save libraries threatened by budget cuts.
“No matter what the subject or how excited the discussion, Iver’s suggestions are always even and thoughtful,” she said. “I believe that calm demeanor is one of the reasons the Ocean Park Library feels like such a refuge. It is a safe, extremely pleasant and familiar place. Iver’s presence will be terribly missed.
Matheson, who lives in Astoria, is looking forward to traveling to Great Britain and the Middle East, choosing walking tours to meet new friends.
One hobby is reflected in the Swedish and Norwegian spelling of his name. “I am very proud of my Swedish roots,” he said. He is the long-time chairman of the Vasa Order in Grays Harbor County, a Swedish heritage lodge his mother has served for 75 years.
His retirement reading list is broad; science fiction and fantasy were his early joy. “Fantasy has come a long way, but J.R.R. Tolkien is still the master,” he said.
There was joy in his voice as he anticipated revisiting classics like “Pride and Prejudice” and Patrick O’Brian’s Napoleonic-era sailing adventures.
“Jane Austen is romance, O’Brian writes ripping yarns, but they transform into something that becomes literature, it transcends genre, looks at relationships — and they are so well written.”