Member Spotlight - Matthew Matkowski

Reaching Forward North Committee

August 11, 2023

This week's member spotlight is on Matthew Matkowski. Matthew is the Head of Public Services at the Palos Heights Public Library. He previously served as chair of ILA's Intellectual Freedom Committee and is a member of the Reaching Forward Committee. 

We asked Matthew to tell us a little about himself and answer a few professional and amusing questions. Continue reading to find out more about Matthew.

A little background on Matthew

I’m currently the Head of Public Services at the Palos Heights Public Library, and recently finished up a stint as the chair of the ILA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. I look forward to more committee work in the next term. I’m also involved with the Adult Reading Round Table and review audiobooks for Booklist. In the past I’ve helped with Illinois Libraries Present, LACONI, and iRead.

I always enjoyed going to the library as a kid and checking out as many Encyclopedia Brown books as I could, but it was my middle school library where I stumbled upon a collection of Dragonlance novels, and that was about it for me.

How did you get your start in libraries?

I had what I think is the best possible start to working in libraries when I lucked-in to a spot in the Arlington Heights Memorial Library’s Programs & Exhibits department while I was in library school. The whole crew there, from manager Jennifer Czajka on down, was so amazing and supportive to work with and really helped cement that I’d made the right decision in switching careers. I guess, technically, I was a page at Tinley Park in the late 90s and a trustee at Villa Park for a few years in the 10s, but those were both before I thought of libraries as a career.

Big shout-out to my wife, who blazed the trail in our family of switching careers to librarianship. She was much happier with life, and so am I.

Best advice you've received since starting your career in libraries?

“Say yes to everything, at least at first.”

Any advice to newcomers working in libraries?

Say yes to everything. I would now add: Seek out opportunities to be part of this incredible community.

When and why did you become a member of ILA?

I became a member in 2017 (I think) when I started at AHML. If I recall correctly, everyone in the department got registered with ILA. 

How has being a member of ILA helped you professionally? 

ILA has definitely exposed me to a wider spectrum of the profession than I would have gotten without it. Through ILA I have met interesting people and attended everything from Noon Networks to big conferences that have taught me a lot of great things that I can bring back to my patrons. I have also had several unexpected and amazing opportunities through my ILA committee work.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

When one of my home delivery patrons presented me with a porkchop as thanks. #theporkchoplibrarian

Or maybe doing a musical introduction of Jeff Tweedy for the Nick Offerman/Jeff Tweedy Illinois Libraries Present event.

Actually, it’s probably helping, in some small way, to get the forthcoming statewide Rapid Response Team off the ground.

Hardcover, paperback, e-reader, audiobook, or all?

All. I have a long commute, so I get through a lot of audiobooks, but I’ll take a book in any format you’ve got. 

Favorite author?

There’s so many to choose from! This is quite possibly the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said, but it could be Dan Abnett and his Warhammer 40k military sci-fi novels. Shout-out to Lois McMaster Bujold and The Vorkosigan Saga!

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what five books would you bring with you to pass the time until being rescued?

  • So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish by Douglas Adams

  • The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

  • The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee omnibus edition (does this have an omnibus? I’m willing it into existence!)

  • The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

  • Contact by Carl Sagan

Cat or Dog?

Dog. We currently have two dogs who are sometimes well-behaved, a 2-year old Golden named Aggie (after Agatha Christie and Agatha Harkness), and a 1-year old Australian cattle dog/shepherd mix named Pippin (because he would gleefully alert a horde of orcs by knocking a bucket down a well).

Favorite film, podcast, or television show?

Film: Lord of the Rings

Podcast: Brad & Will Made a Tech Pod

Television show: Battlestar reboot, The Leftover

One person you would like to meet, dead or alive why?

Maybe Jason Isbell, multi-Grammy award winning Americana singer-songwriter, so we could talk guitars.

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