Dewey Readmore Books and Other Cats in Stacks

You may have never heard of library cats before Dewey Readmore Books became a sensation and had a bestselling book written about him. He will also have a movie out soon staring Meryl Streep.

Library cats are often strays that wander in and purr their way into the hearts of the library staff, soon becoming a permanent fixture. Like the books, these cats are there to be loved and enjoyed by the community. There are about 700 known library cats that grace libraries around the world. Library cats are often given clever names, the most popular being Dewey Decimal, Page Turner and Libby.

Dewey Readmore Books is now the world’s most famous library cat, and was a beloved resident of the Spencer Library in Iowa. Dewey was dumped in the Spencer Library book drop in January 1988 and reigned over the library for 19 years. He has his own web site and has raised over $3,000 from sales of his postcards.

When Dewey passed away in November 2006, his obituary appeared on 72,400 web sites and Spencer Library received over 650 email condolences, $300 in memorial money, flowers, cards and books. The library director, Vicki Myron wrote the book on Dewey’s life, Dewey the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. New Line Cinema is producing the movie, called Library Cat.

Vicki Myron has since found another orange kitten, who was a wandering stray, and brought her to be the next Spencer Library Cat. Her name is Page.

Maxie, the Commuting Elementary School Library Cat

Maxie Speer Huett, the official library cat of Maxie Speer Elementary School in Arlington, Texas is different from most library cats. She doesn’t live in the library, but comes to work each day with the librarian, Charlie Huett. And she is 90% blind. But that doesn’t stop her from performing her important daily tasks.

Maxie assists with the Pledge of Allegiance each morning before helping to turn on all the computers. Classes arrive every 25 minutes, so this library cat is quite busy. Part of her self-appointed job is to make sure the students behave. With her ability to hear a candy wrapper from anywhere in the library, she points out students who are eating, or even carrying candy. If a student drops a paper wad on the floor, the library cat promptly picks it up and returns it to the student.

Library cats put people in a good mood

At the Everett Free Library in Pennsylvania, Pudders just wandered onto the porch and took up residence. “Taking in a stray goes along with the library mission of service to the community,” Says Denise Plaskon, Director. She believes having a library cat around puts everyone in a good mood, and it fosters interest in the library for the younger kids.

Pete, the Clark Fork Branch Library cat in Idaho is a “transfer kitty.” He had been a resident clinic cat at the Bonner Humane Society, but had to be relieved of duty because he tended to slap the dogs in the waiting room. He is much better suited as a library cat. Pete is a big boy of 19 pounds and has no problem plopping down and snuggling with the toddlers in the summer reading program. Many patrons come by just to see Pete. One gentleman comes in almost daily to read the paper with him. The Humane Society still loves Pete and provides for all of his health needs.

Feral Library Cats - the Love Multiplies

Not all library cats live within the stacks. The Amanda Park Timberland Library in Washington has feral library cats, who are no less important to the institution. Mother, Gray Papa, Grayfur and Baby Face all live under the library, in insulated boxes, and play outside, always aware of the raccoons, bears, cougars and coyotes that occasionally appear on the grounds. The mother cats are too sly to be captured and spayed, but wise enough to bring their kittens out to be fed by the staff when it’s time to wean the litter. Library patrons provide food, have the kittens spayed and neutered, then adopt them. So far, there has never been a shortage of patrons wanting to adopt the new library kittens.

Is there a library cat in your community?

If you’d love to snuggle up with a library cat, you can see if there is a library cat in one of your area libraries. The best place to search is the Library Cats Map on ironfrog.com.