Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A cat,a library and the small town who embraced them both

I was a big library goer in my younger days and while I went to several over the years,the one thing I never found there was a library cat. After reading about Dewey Readmore Books from Spencer,Iowa, it makes me think that perhaps cats should be a mandatory element for libraries everywhere.

Dewey was rescued from a book deposit bin in the Spencer library one cold morning back in 1988 by Vicki Myron,the new head librarian. The frightened kitten was only eight weeks old,with so much dirt on him that gray appeared to be his natural fur color,plus his paws were so frostbitten that he hobbled around. That didn't stop the kitten from going over to every staff member to show his appreciation for his new home.

Dewey became an essential part of the library,making the place much more inviting to the citizens of Spencer,some of whom were mainly using the library to help them find work during the hard economic times in the area due to the farming crisis in the late eighties/early nineties.

Having a cat live in a library may not seem like a major thing but his presence and playfulness helped to cheer up people of all ages who stopped by,some just to see him. Dewey touched many lives,from elderly folks looking for a bit of comfort to children who kept on their best behavior just to make sure Dewey could stay with them for Story Hour.

Dewey brought some desperately needed attention to the Spencer library,with folks not only more willing to give it the funds needed to make necessary improvements but making it a home away from home. A contest was held to chose his name and Dewey even received birthday cards and Christmas presents from the many happy patrons of Spencer.

This book,Dewey:the small town library cat who touched the world,is not only the story of a cat. It's also about Vicki Myron,who went through a number of challenges in her life such as a bad marriage that ended in divorce,raising her daughter on her own,trying to earn a master's degree while keeping the library afloat and health problems to boot.

Dewey's appearance in her world gave Vicki encouragement and comfort during some of those times and also helped her to reconnect with her daughter during the turbulent teen years. Her drive and determination to make the library and the town of Spencer bond closer together(along with her own personal struggles) during such a rough patch of time makes Vicki a charming role model for these hard times we're facing right now.

Dewey passed away in 2006,after 19 years of residing as the beloved spokescat for the Spencer Public Library. He had admirers from all across the country and even international fans due to his star turn in a Japanese documentary.

Dewey's legacy will live on,not just in this delightfully written and heart warming book,but in the memories of those who were privileged to know him. They say every dog has his day but cats also deserve the star treatment once in awhile and Dewey was certainly celebrity material,in the best sense of the word.

The book is available at bookstores and libraries near you and it's a welcome addition to the shelves of both cat and book lovers everywhere. There are video clips of Dewey online here and more out on the internet of other library cats who are following in his furry footsteps,like Browser at the Pine River Library in Minnesota. Nice to see a new generation take up where their elders left off:




Ladytink_534 said...

Now that's just not fair lol. I won this book in a Hatchette Books giveaway (the whole reason why I entered) and they sent me a box of books that arrived today without that book :(

I wish my library had a cat, then I would spend even more time in there!

lady t said...

Bummer,Lady Tink! Maybe they're sending it to you separately-keep a look out in your mail:)