Dewey

Dewey by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. Like a lot of public libraries, my local branch has a special shelf just for current best sellers. It is mostly populated with the latest romantic novels, spy thrillers or political and investment tomes in vogue, but occasionally I’ll see something different. Last week, I saw a title called Dewey: the small-town library cat who touched the world. Well, I’m a cat person and I used to work in libraries. I thought this might be interesting and I’m always on the lookout for books I can give to my sister the vet. Myron is the Spencer, Iowa library director, who on a cold, January morning in 1988 found a shivering kitten in the book drop box of her library. After Myron convinced the staff and the library board that the kitten would not be a problem, Dewey Readmore Books became a integral part of the Spencer library for the next eighteen years, entertaining patrons of all ages whenever they visited the library and gaining much publicity throughout the world.

The book is part autobiography about Myron, part biography of Dewey himself, a lot of local history about the town of Spencer and the state of Iowa, and a bit about how public libraries work. There are lots of wonderful anecdotes about how Dewey would interact with staff and visitors, greet people at the door, sit in their laps, ride the book carts, climb onto shelves, desks, and lights and how Dewey’s warmth and love for everyone helped the farming town through some difficult economic times.

Dewey’s willingness to wait by the front door for Myron, to follow patrons around the building, to instinctively know what time of day it is, to demand attention by dislodging materials on desktops and his finicky eating habits all remind me of my mother’s cat, Kringle, who displayed several dog-like tendencies. I’ve never worked in a library with a cat, but one of our local furniture stores has a resident cat or two that attract customer attention and admiration.

To learn more about the Library Cat Society, please contact Phyllis Lahti at P.O. Box 274, Moorhead, MN 56561-0274.

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