It was the winter of 1987, and a Minnesota blizzard swirled madly outside Phyllis Lahti’s home when she heard the pitiful cries of a cat outside her door.
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Although the distressed tabby was covered with sores and bite marks, Phyllis recognized him as one of the street cats she regularly fed. Because her two resident cat companions made it clear they welcomed the formerly homeless feline about as much as a trip to the vet, the librarian took Royal Reggie (so named because of his “royal bearing,” says Phyllis) to live at her place of work, the Bryant Public Library in Sauk. There, he established himself as the library’s Cat in Residence, with the reference room being his preferred spot.
Although by no means the first cat to inhabit a library, Reggie served as the inspiration for Phyllis to found The Library Cat Society, whose dozens of member libraries have provided safe havens for many a cat left in library parking lots or dumped in book-return chutes. In the group’s newsletter, Phyllis describes the society’s aim: “to advocate the establishment of cats in libraries and recognize the need to respect and to care for library cats.”
As she wrote in the anthology, Cats, Librarians, and Libraries: Essays for and About the Library Cat Society, “The library office can, after all, serve as a refuge for the library cat. It should not lean toward the overly organized, and when possible it should have an inviting open desk or cabinet drawer for catnapping. It need not have a window box, but having one can be therapeutic, both for the cat who is reclining on it and the observer who is watching the cat.”
Do you know a library that could benefit from the addition of a Library Cat?