Kelly Kerr is the first to admit that while a student at Oklahoma State University, he didn’t spend a lot of time in the library, but now as an author he is being honored by the Friends of Libraries in Oklahoma and will be the keynote speaker at their annual conference in Tulsa on April 2.
Kerr, a photography instructor in OSUIT’s Visual Communications Division, will talk about his book “Oklahoma Revisited: Out of the Way Faces and Places” that features photos and stories of people and places across the state.
“I was on the road just shooting for about a year,” said Kerr, who spent part of 2006 and 2007 traveling across the state taking pictures and gathering stories while also working at the Tulsa World, which published the book.
“I just wanted to show a mirror up to the state. This is who we are, better or for worse. It makes the book more interesting,” said Kerr, who wrote the book as part of Oklahoma’s centennial.
In 2012, Kerr was contacted by Karen Neurohr with OSU’s Edmon Low Library who wanted to feature the book and photographs in an exhibit as part of Oklahoma History Week.
“That was really nice. We built a relationship from there,” he said, so he was thrilled when he was asked to speak at the luncheon. “I’m completely honored. I’m completely a fish out of water. I don’t really consider myself an author or writer.”
And even though he’s a faculty member at OSUIT since 2007, it’s hard for Kerr to call himself a teacher either.
“I still don’t consider myself a teacher. I’m still a visual artist first,” he said. “I’m more sharing my knowledge and skills. I want to be more of a motivator and cheerleader. That’s what I like about OSUIT, it’s not a traditional education.”
And “Oklahoma Revisited” is not a typical book, but having the opportunity to travel all over the state and experience Oklahoma was a something Kerr couldn’t pass up.
“I never though I would do a book, but it was in the back of my mind all the time,” he said. “I love telling stories.”
Which is what his presentation at the FOLIO luncheon is all about.
“The majority will be about my book. Showing some of the images and the stories behind them,” Kerr said.
He is joining the ranks of past luncheon speaking including author Michael Wallis, the late artist Charles Banks Wilson, Teresa Miller, Director for Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers.
“It’s humbling and intimidating,” he said. “I’m thrilled to death.”
Kerr said he appreciates this recognition from not only FOLIO, but from OSU as well.
“To be recognized by your alma mater is one of the highest honors. I’m sure proud of my alma mater. As the years go by, I’m even more proud to represent them,” he said.
The FOLIO Luncheon is Wednesday April 2 on the last day of the conference at the Southern Hill Marriott in Tulsa. Tickets are $50 and must be purchased in advance. For more information, go to the Oklahoma Library Association Annual Conference webpage.