Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Cats on Wednesday – Cats in the Stacks

Personally I’d be happy to see cats everywhere I go. I’ve seen them greeting customers in shops and businesses. At one time my church had a resident cat who liked to attend services until a complaint resulted in his banishment (from services, not the church). He was missed by many of us. (Cats, of course, love to meditate.) Cats often happily settle down in public places. There were cats “employed” by the Hermitage Museum in Russia for hundreds of years, working rodent control. And there were cats in ancient Egyptian libraries.

I haven’t had the pleasure of encountering a library cat, but according to Iron Frog Productions’ Library Cat Map, last updated in May 2009, there are (or were) 808 known library cats in the entire world. The U.S. led, with the most -- 235. However those numbers included visitors to the libraries, statues, stuffed toy cats, virtual cats and at least one ghost. The more accurate number of live resident cats in the U.S. was 35. Apparently Iceland and all of Asia were tied with only one cat each (real cats). There were none listed for South America. The Cat in Residence job at a library in Washington was created after 98% of patrons expressed a desire for a feline member of the staff.

Dewey Readmore Books is probably the most famous library cat of all. He was put in the book return of the Spencer, Iowa library in 1988. The staff and patrons all fell in love with him and he had just turned 19 when he died in 2006, having served as public relations for the library all those years. He was the subject of newspaper and magazine articles, videos and TV, postcards and books. He has been the subject of several books by Vicki Myron, the Spencer librarian who first befriended Dewey.

If you are lucky enough to be welcomed by a library cat in your local library, you should consider yourself very fortunate.

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