Yesterday, we received the sad news of the passing of Lynn Matthews, former Kitchener Public Library Chief Librarian. While I did not know ‘Mr. Matthews’, as he was known to staff, he, along with Susan Hoffman and Grace Schmidt, will always hold a special place in my librarian heart.
During his tenure as Chief Librarian at KPL from 1973-1993, he was instrumental in the founding of the Grace Schmidt Room in 1984. Mr. Matthews worked with the Library’s partners, the Waterloo Historical Society and Ontario Genealogical Society (then Waterloo-Wellington, now Waterloo Region Branch) in developing the GSR as a destination for local history and genealogy. He spearheaded the Library’s commitment and vision for the room to protect and make available the legacy and local history collection curated by Grace Schmidt.
Looking back at the excitement of the GSR’s opening on 14 October 1984, I can’t help but think that Mr. Matthews believed in the value of local history and heritage for the community. The GSR opened with Susan Hoffman as KPL’s first local history librarian. She headed a small and dedicated staff complement that worked in the GSR, providing reference and research services.
While there have been many changes since then, it is in Lynn Matthews’ belief in the value of local history and the Grace Schmidt Room to the community, that we continue.
RIP Mr. Matthews.