Kate of the Week: Katie Herzog the artist, librarian, and Guerrilla Girl enthusiast

There are so many fascinating Kates out there. Every week, Kate-book.com is resolving to introduce you to a new one. About a month ago, I profiled one Katie Herzog of Durham, North Carolina. Soon after, a reader tip alerted me to the fact that there’s another awesome Katie Herzog out there, an artist and librarian in California. So this week, I would like you to meet Katie Herzog, 32, of Glassell Park, Los Angeles. Without further ado, 13 questions with Katie.

1. What do you do?

I make art and work part-time as an assistant librarian. I was recently appointed Director of the Molesworth Institute, which has been dedicated to the proliferation of library humor and disjunctive librarianship since 1956. Last summer I attended Cycling for Libraries, the first international library “unconference” on wheels, and painted bike jerseys with Molesworth Institute quotes on the back I gleaned from Norman Steven’s book, “Archives of Library Research from the Molesworth Institute.” Quotes include “We find the library world, like the real world, impossible to understand on a rational basis,” and “Freedom From Information.” The jerseys are currently on display at the Palo Alto Research Center, where I have a solo exhibition up through March 30th, 2012. Please stop by if you’re in the South Bay! It’s open to the public M-F 8am – 5pm. Or you can check out installation shots of the show here.

2. How did you become a librarian/artist?

My first job was at Klutz Press. I tripped on the entranceway and was hired on the spot, no joke. I worked with a very nice man named Davey in the shipping department in a warehouse full of rubber chickens, juggling paraphernalia, aerobies, and yo-yos, which were attached to the spiral binding of books. Klutz later published the infamous “Encyclopedia of Immaturity.” I attribute my recent work in experimental lexicography, ebook charcuterie, and bottom shelf conceptualism to this influence.

3. What’s something you wish people knew or understood better about what you do?

I wish people could understand, on a wider scale, the extremely important role of public libraries in society. Librarians are on the forefront of information wars daily, fighting censorship, discriminatory access laws, civil liberties jeopardized by the Patriot Act, and the list goes on. They are working on shoestring budgets that are shrinking at a time when public use is higher than ever, and they are adapting to a publishing field whose rapid technological advancements necessitate specialized knowledge and perpetual equipment upgrades. Public libraries are at the foundation of democratic society and information age innovation. I am shocked when I encounter contemporary art/design projects which engage libraries as conceptual framework, like The Serving Library, professing to “reclaim the library” while overtly denouncing public libraries as being “increasingly redundant” regarding their relationship to the economy of information. The cultural renaissance taking place within the field of librarianship is truly inspirational, and it is the combination of creative thinking, public service, and political activism that I wish people understood better about the field.

4. In an ideal world, where making a living weren’t an issue, what would you be doing?

I would be a full-time Guerrilla Girl. Hence, the photo above.

5. What’s a band, television show, book, or movie that you hope Kate-book readers will go watch, listen to, or read RIGHT NOW?

Music: Diamanda Galás, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, The Gowns, Glenn Gould, John Waters film soundtracks, Tom Tom Club

Books: Ham on Rye, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Grammatical Man, Personal Knowledge, The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow, Literature as Exploration

Movie/YouTube: Trailer Park Boys Countdown to Liquor Day, Screamplay, Buck, Hud, Pee-Wee, Badlands, Sarah Silverman’s performance of Amazing Grace

6. What’s your favorite stop to make on a road trip?

The Twin Festival party at the Holiday Inn in Twinsburg, Ohio, the Anarchist Parade in West Athens Maine, Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, Imperial Sand Dunes, Lake Tahoe’s Cave Rock, American Library Association annual Library Book Cart Drill Team Championship.

7. Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

In this photograph of me working on a walnut farm, I have been told I look like the feral kid in “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior,” played by Emil Minty.

8. What’s the first concert you ever went to?

My friend Ebony’s older sister took us to see MC Hammer in Oakland in the late 1980s.

9. If you were forced to get a tattoo right at this moment, what would you get?

Sarah Cromarty’s face on my face.

10. What’s your favorite thing about your name?

I like it when my brother is feeling poetic and calls me “Greaty.” That feels good.

11. Your least favorite thing about your name?

Patriarchal surname.

12. Who is your favorite famous Kate?

Katherina Minola (pre-taming), Katie in Michael Jackson’s “Moonwalker” (1988), Kate Chopin.

13. Who is a Kate out there who you wish were a household name?

Kate Rich is a pubic intellectual and cultural producer based in Bristol, England, who is “currently moving deeper into the infrastructure of cultural economy, developing protocols to define and manage amenities of hospitality, catering, sports and survival in the cultural realm.”

Know a Kate, Caty, Katherine, or Catelynn who needs to be Kate of the Week? Awesome! Send me a tip at kate.torgovnick@gmail.com. I will be in touch with them soon.

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One thought on “Kate of the Week: Katie Herzog the artist, librarian, and Guerrilla Girl enthusiast

  1. Keith Irwin says:

    Katie Herzog is one of a kind and her Grandpa thinks she is a very special, unique person. The breadth and depth of her person and soul constantly amazes.

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