A Q&A with Matthew Hoffman, whose recently launched blog, PRPL Focus, will put a spotlight on the Library, its staff, patrons and volunteers, its history and its newest offerings.
PRPL: How long have you worked here?
MH: I started at the Park Ridge Public Library in May 1998. I've been serving the Park Ridge community for 22 years-- the last 18 full-time in Patron Services.
PRPL: When did you launch the Classic Film Series, and what prompted you to start it?
MH: The PRPLCFS was launched in 2009. I was approached by Reader Services because they were aware of my previous experience running a movie theatre (LaSalle Bank Theatre, Chicago) from 1999 to 2003. We began in the spring with a six-film series on Film Noir. Unlike my earlier experience as a projectionist, this time I was able to introduce the films and elaborate on each film's history. In the ensuing years at the library, the programs became so successful that the Pickwick Theatre management took note. In 2013, I was asked to start a monthly classic film program for the theatre. As an aside, in both instances—at the library and at the theatre—had tried to jump-start film programs years earlier, but the interest just wasn't there at that time. It was through the success of the spring series at the library that we changed the public perception of classic movies. There is an audience for older movies and they will come out in a large group to see them instead of simply watching them from home. When there's enthusiasm and passion behind it, you will get an audience.
PRPL: Tell us a little about your background. Did you grow up in Park Ridge?
MH: I actually grew up next door in Niles, which is where my parents still reside. For the last 14 years, I've been a resident of Park Ridge. I'm a graduate of Notre Dame High School whose student newspaper, coincidentally, is called Focus.
PRPL: What do you hope people will take away from PRPL Focus?
MH: As the title suggests, I want patrons to be aware that we will be focusing on aspects of library life and programming that are only briefly mentioned on the website. This blog, or journal, will be integrated into our website. The emphasis will be on the people who make up our community, both staff and patrons. PRPL Focus gives me the opportunity to share experiences that impact our community.
PRPL: What do you love more, writing or watching movies? And why?
MH: Movies have been with me longer than writing. Those experiences, whether it was watching Son of Svengoolie on TV as a kid or going to the movie theatre with my dad, have had a greater impact in shaping my life. Though I had been a film student at Columbia College Chicago, my path veered off into Creative Writing. I've written well over a dozen articles for Nostalgia Digest magazine, and I'm currently working on a historical novel.