Thursday, October 4, 2012

Meet the 'Boardwalk Empire' Librarian

In 2006, when Heather Halpin Perez began working at the Atlantic City Free Public Library in New Jersey, little did she know her name would one day be connected to one of the most critically acclaimed shows in cable television history.

Image source: via HBO

Perez works as an archivist in the library's local history section, the Alfred M. Heston Collection. In the course of a usual day, she assists people in piecing together their family histories, helps authors who are doing research for their books, and answers research questions asked by city officials. But then she gets a phone call from Ed McGinty, a native of Atlantic City and the lead historical researcher for the HBO show Boardwalk Empire.

"The archive is an incredible resource," McGinty told the Press of Atlantic City. "Heather is just so knowledgeable about what's in there. Whenever I need some specifics, say a photograph...anything I can't find anywhere else, I call her."

Heather Halpin Perez, at right, offers her expertise for HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
Image source:

Perez is often called on to locate a photograph or provide a newspaper article or historical account so that McGinty and others on the Boardwalk Empire staff can make the show as historically accurate as possible. But "it's historical fiction," Perez told the News & Advance. "So they've taken some liberties."

For her contributions to Boardwalk Empire, Perez sees her name among the show's end credits; she's listed as "historical consultant." However, she insists that she's not on the show's payroll and that she "doesn't do anything for Boardwalk Empire that she wouldn't do for anyone else who calls or visits the library with questions on Atlantic City's past," according to the Press of Atlantic City.

When Perez decided to go into library science, she "didn't do it for the glamour," she told the News & Advance. "I've always been interested in old stories and working with old photographs and scrap booking. It was an opportunity to do something I really enjoy."

On assisting the makers of Boardwalk Empire, Perez said, "It was a chance to let Atlantic City shine, and that's really what my job is about."

To read more on Perez, the "Boardwalk Empire Librarian," go HERE and HERE.

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