Have you ever wondered why librarians are crazy about cats? Did you know that many libraries employ a resident feline? Maybe you have seen a cat snoozing on a book cart or sauntering down the aisles. You may think this is a modern infatuation, but cats and libraries have gone together since the earliest of times. For thousands of years, from ancient Egyptian temples to the present, cats have “worked” in libraries. Their main job? Keep the rats and mice away!
But cats in libraries offer another benefit. Many of us know the pleasure of having a cat nearby, to pet or cuddle up with and their proud and independent natures make them funny to watch. Library cats also offer a sense of community. They bring people in the door and give patrons an opportunity to interact with the staff and each other on another level.
If you’re a librarian, you probably know who Baker & Taylor are. They are the largest wholesaler and distributor of books for libraries. About thirty years ago, they heard about a library cat at a small library in Douglas County, Nevada. He was a Scottish Fold, affectionately named Baker because of the Baker & Taylor box he liked to hang out in. Baker needed a friend, however, and the book company made it happen. They issued a grant to purchase and care for a second Scottish Fold named Taylor (of course!). Soon after, the Baker and Taylor cats became the company’s mascots and the Nevada library became a national attraction. Cat photo shoots led to a high demand for B&T posters, calendars and tote bags. A fan club popped up and the famous cats were soon portrayed at library conventions in specially made Baker & Taylor cat costumes. Baker and Taylor lived many years and enriched the lives of patrons, staff and visitors. Their images continue to grace the B&T totes and posters.
Jan Louch, a long-time employee at the small library and a lifelong animal lover was there for all the action and, together with Lisa Rogak, wrote The True Tails of Baker and Taylor, published in 2016. It’s a fun story, with great pictures and gives a good look into the small library scene, its patrons and two amusing cats with distinct personalities. I enjoyed reading this chronicle which led to my research on cats in libraries.
I read The True Tails of Baker and Taylor as part of my Build a Better World Summer Reading Challenge to read a book suggested by a librarian.
For more information about libraries and cats, visit the links below:
OEDB article: “A Quick Guide to Library Cats”
Wikipedia: “Library Cat”
American Libraries article: “Library Cats Leave Some Sneezing, Others Feline Fine”
Mental Floss article: “10 Cats Who Live at the Library”
Petcha.com article: “History of Library Cats”
Have you visited a library with a feline employee?
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