“We think of a library, or any single building really, as a small place. How can you spend all day, every day, in a 13,000-square-foot room and not get bored? But to Dewey, the Spencer Public Library was a huge world full of drawers, cabinets, bookshelves, display cases, rubber bands, typewriters, copiers, tables, chairs, backpacks, purses, and a steady stream of hands to pet him, legs to rub him, and mouths to sing his praises. And laps. The library was always graciously, gorgeously full of laps.
By the fall of 1988, Dewey considered all of it his.”
The passage you've just read comes from an enchanting new book by Vicki Myron, titled Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. The tiny kitten who was deposited in the drop box of the Spencer, Iowa, public library one bitterly cold night in January of 1988 grew up to be a cat known and loved by people from Iowa to England to Japan. In the nineteen years he lived at the Spencer Library, Dewey came to be regarded by many as the soul of the library, and, by extension, the town itself. Ms. Myron, who spent twenty-five years working at the library (the last twenty of them as director), and who rescued Dewey, writes:
“Cats are creatures of habit, and it didn't take long for Dewey to develop a routine. When I arrived at the library every morning, he was waiting for me at the front door. He would take a few bites of his food while I hung up my jacket and bag, and then we would walk the library together, making sure everything was in place and discussing our evenings. Dewey was more a sniffer than a talker, but I didn't mind. The library, once so cold and dead first thing in the morning, was alive and well.”
In another section, the author describes a few facets of Dewey's days at the library:
“Joy DeWall was the library clerk who spent the most time shelving books. Dewey would watch her loading books onto the book cart, then hop on for a ride once it was full. He would stare at the bookshelves as the cart rolled past, and whenever he saw something he liked, he'd signal Joy that he wanted to get off, like he was riding a little cat trolley.”
Interweaving (or perhaps I should say interleaving) the history of Spencer with her own story and that of one little cat, author Vicki Myron spins a funny heart-warming, and at times poignant tale, one that should not be missed, especially if you're a cat person (or a library person!), or even if you're not. Be sure to read all about Dewey – you'll be glad that you did.
Copyright © 2009, S. Halversen.
All Rights Reserved.