Allergies Aside, Library Cats Rule

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In dozens of public libraries across the nation, felines have taken up residence. There’s Browser in White Settlement Public Library, Texas, Pages in Valley Center Public Library, Kansas, and Stacks in Litchfield Public Library, Illinois, but perhaps none is better known than Dewey Readmore Books (Dewey for short), the library cat from Spencer Public Library, Iowa.

Back in 1988, Vicki Myron, the Spencer Library director, was trying to raise the spirits of her library’s patrons, the residents of an out-of-the-way town deeply mired in the farm crisis of the 1980s. Her answer arrived one bitter winter night when someone put a ginger kitten into the after-hours book return slot. Recognizing the extraordinary strength and uniqueness of this kitten, Myron sought and received approval from the library board to adopt him as Spencer’s resident library cat. Dewey grew into an affable and immensely popular library cat whose antics drew in patrons. As his fame grew, people drove hundreds of miles to meet Dewey. Soon, the media began featuring stories of him, and he even ended up the subject of a popular documentary in Japan.

When Dewey died in 2006 at the age of 19, his obituary appeared in over 250 local and national newspapers, including The New York Times, USA Today, and the Des Moines Register. His fans continued to grow when Myron wrote the best-selling book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, which not only pays tribute to this special feline but is also a love letter to the power of libraries. Since Dewey’s passing, Myron retired from the library and has a new cat, aptly named Page.