Kathie Coblentz, 73, Dies; Not Your Ordinary Librarian

Ms. Coblentz was a true-blue Yankees fan (she and a friend were planning to go to a game being played two days after her death), and a committed cinephile.

She collaborated with her former teacher from the 1990s at the New School, Robert E. Kapsis, a professor emeritus of Sociology and Film Studies at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, on researching (including translating avant-garde European criticism into English), editing and indexing books.

She edited anthologies of interviews with contemporary filmmakers and was a contributing editor, writer and programmer for Professor Kapsis’s interactive Multimedia Hitchcock project in 1999 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.

And she ran in several New York City Marathons.

Kathie Lynn Coblentz was born on Nov. 4, 1947. Her father was Dr. Jacob Coblentz, an immigrant born in Riga, Latvia, who was a bacteriologist in Lansing, Mich., where she appears to have been born. He also worked in Tennessee and Ohio before settling in Frankfort, Mich., where he was employed by the Pet Evaporated Milk Company and the Michigan Department of Health; he died when she was 10. Her mother was Sidney Ellarea Coblentz, an art teacher and artist.

Even in high school in Frankfort, in northwest Michigan, Ms. Coblentz demonstrated a bent for cataloging, winning a mathematics award for a paper titled “Some Possible Systems of Numerical Notation.”

She earned a degree in German from Michigan State University in 1968 and a master’s of library science from the University of Michigan in 1969. She learned Danish, Norwegian and Swedish so that she could read her favorite Scandinavian authors of murder mysteries unaltered by translation.

She had no immediate survivors. Her older brother, Peter, died in 1969.

For a lifelong cataloger who wrote a high school paper on improving ways to sort things numerically, her system of classifying her own collection of books at home defied library science and was ripe for parody. Ms. Coblentz had 16 bookcases holding more than 200 feet of shelf space in her one-bedroom apartment. The books were arranged by country of origin, size, sentimentality and personal obsession.

“Your system doesn’t have to be logical,” she told The New York Times in 2005. “It just has to work for you.”

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