Oct 1, 2010

Library Cats

This latest painting project started with the idea of a cat perched on a stack of books but as I got into the subject it became so much more.

Did you know there are hundreds of 'official' library cats around the world? These cats live in municipal and university libraries and are the official mascots of many fine institutions. One cat, Dewey, has reached rock star status by having his life immortalized in a New York Times best seller....

Library cats have been around for centuries,  Of the 573 on record in the US, 383 have passed away after serving their institutions well, 32 are permanent cats-in-residence, 22 have been immortalized as statues, five are virtual eCats, four are stuffed mascots, and one haunts a reference room as a ghost.

Library cats have appeared as characters in books and films. One award winning video by Gary Roma, Puss in Books: Adventures of a Library Cat, explores the lifestyles of cats who roam the stacks, curl up in library users’ laps, and sleep on circulation desks. Some, like Kinky at the Kilbourn Public Library in Wisconsin, are deployed in rodent patrol. Others, like Dewey Readmore Books at the Spencer Public Library in Iowa, enjoy high profile professional roles of marketing and public relations. In short, the modern working cat plays a pivotal role in efforts to increase literacy awareness.

Washington’s Ocean Shores Library created its cat-in-residence position in 1999 after a survey revealed that 98 percent of the patrons favored a furry staff member. 

Roma, a Massachusetts-based documentary filmmaker, also designed and maintains a website devoted to library cats around the world (www.ironfrog.com/catsmap).  According to the site, library cats have been found in every state except Wyoming, South Dakota, and Delaware. While there are no known library cats in the Middle East and South America, Japan and Russia have their own, as do a number of European countries including Croatia, Latvia, Italy, Hungary, and The Netherlands. 

Reggie, cat-in-residence at the Bryant Public Library in Sauk, Minnesota inspired librarian Phyllis Lahti to found The Library Cat Society in 1987.
Dozens of member libraries exchange information on their cats, most of whom were abandoned in parking lots or dumped in book-return chutes. According to the society’s newsletter, the mission is to advocate the establishment of cats in libraries and recognize the need to respect and to care for library cats.

Iowa’s Dewey Readmore Books gives Dr. Seuss a run for the money, ranking as a national celebrity. The acting debut in Puss in Books landed him a spot as Mr. January in a national pin-up cat calendar plus a mention on nationally syndicated radio by broadcaster Paul Harvey, and as the subject of two book chapters—he has his own Library of Congress listing. 

Through requests for birthday party appearances, stacks of fan mail and greeting cards, and designated web pages library cats receive well-earned respect and notoriety. Job responsibilities worldwide vary, but typically the role includes: rodent control, counseling, purveyor of book reviews, and companionship.

Here's one more fun link while I'm on the subject -  Six degrees between Meryl Streep and Dewey the Library Cat.

OK, if you're still here, my latest painting honoring the library cat... take note of the book titles, they were hubby's idea:

  "Dewey goes to University" 11x14 acrylic on canvas

I think he's alarmed because he just found out there's a pop quiz today...
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2 COMMENTS - Click here to leave YOURS!:

sassypackrat said...

I had no idea about library cats. What a wonderful idea! Love your painting too.

Anonymous said...

Hello there, I came via Kat...love your blog, her/Kat's footprints came out great :)

Nice to meet you.

All the best,
Kathy :)

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