10 Cats Who Live at the Library

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A library can operate without a cat, but a library with a cat is special. They draw new patrons to the library, they make people smile, calm the staff, and they keep mice away. Some also work to promote literacy, library use, and pet adoption. And curling up with a cat and a good book is a pleasant way to spend time at the local library.

1. Ernie

Ernie lives at the Bealton Library in Bealton, Virginia. He was found at the nearby depot and adopted by the library staff. Since Ernie is a polydactyl cat, the literary name he earned is Ernest P. Hemingway, after the author who was fond of polydactyl cats. Ernie sleeps in the manager's chair, keeps an eye on the parking lot, and greets patrons.

2. Stacks

The Litchfield Public Library in Litchfield, Illinois, adopted Stacks from Benld's Adopt-a-Pet shelter in 2009 to rid the library of mice. There are no longer any mice at the library, and Stacks spends her time near the computers, waiting for a lap to sit on. See more pictures of Stacks on her library page. Sales of t-shirts and coffee mugs with Stacks' picture on them benefit both the library and Benld's Adopt-a-Pet shelter.

3. Queen Emma

Emma lives at the Lyme Public Library in Lyme, Connecticut. She was adopted from the local animal shelter in 2003, where she was named Nina. Emma is the name chosen by library patrons, but she will answer to one name just as well as the other, and is often referred to as the Queen. She has her favorite stool at the library that no one else dares sit on, and her own Twitter feed.

4. Waldo and 5. Olivia

The Ocean Shores Public Library in Ocean Shores, Washington, made a deliberate decision to add cats to their staff in 1999. Library patrons were overwhelmingly for the idea, and a kitten they named Trixie was adopted into the library. She reigned until her death in 2005. Two years later, two kittens were hired and named Waldo and Olivia. Like Trixie, they were named after characters in children's books. The two cats were eventually retired to new homes, and the library has no cats at this time due to budget cuts.

6. Pages

Pages works at the Valley Center Public Library in Valley Center, Kansas. Pages has her own blog called Posts from the Paw, which is updated infrequently but enthusiastically. There, she tells the story of how she was a tired young stray taken in by the library in 2010. Other posts tell of library happenings, but there is an occasional personal post, like the time her tail was stepped on

7. Prudence and 8. Annie

The James Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, Connecticut had two legendary cats that are memorialized on Facebook. Prudence (above) lived there from 1978 until 1980, then Annie (below) took over as cat librarian from 1980 to 1988. Both served as paperweights for the library director's desk, among other duties.

9. Penny

Penny has lived at the Swansea Public Library in Massachusetts for nine years. She's quite popular with library patrons, and sits on the front desk in order to be petted by everyone who checks out or returns books. Earlier this year, Patrick Higgins demanded the cat be removed from the library, as it violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by obstructing those with cat allergies from using the library. Higgins dropped his complaint after a public outcry and petition to save Penny, which gathered 1,800 signatures. The library saw a boost in new library card applications after the publicity. Commenters are divided on the issue of library cats and patrons with cat allergies. 

10. Kuzya the Russian Library Cat

A cat walked into the library in Novorossiysk, Russia, and found a home, a job, and stardom. A library or bookstore with a cat is practically an institution in the U.S., but the cat that came to be named Kuzya has captured the Russian imagination.

Kuzya showed up at the library’s door one day and impressed staff with his uncanny ability to look cute and fluffy. After arching his back and running his face along people’s legs he was able to procure food and (secretly) a warm place to spend cold winter days.

Unfortunately, Kuzya lacked the proper documents to be kept in a public space such as a library, so the staff, seeing the cat’s potential, worked to acquire it. Kuzya would need a cat passport, which apparently does exist. To get it he had an ID chip embedded along with a rabies vaccination.

With the paperwork in order, Kuzya could now openly roam the aisles of the library. Under his new title of “pet” he worked hard licking himself, looking cute, and taking naps so much that the library saw a significant increase in patronage. It turned out that people would come for the cat but stay for the book lending service.

It wasn't long before Kuzya was promoted to assistant librarian, which meant issuing a certificate. It also means Kuzya has to dress up for work -in a fetching bow tie. You can see Kuzya at work on video.

See also: 8 Library Cats and 9 Delightful Library Cats. And you might want to check out the series on Bookstore Cats.

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September 19, 2013 - 12:59pm
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