I fall well within the stereotype of the cat-crazy librarian…I have two cats (Vlad and Chloe) who deign to live with me.
Cats seem to be the unofficial mascots for libraries, and some cats have even managed to get steady jobs as kitty librarians (more on this later). Cats also regularly appear in library-related memes and online image collections curated by libraries. Here are just a few examples of how cats live (both literally and figuratively) within the library collection:
- Library cats: Yes, some cats literally live in the library. An article from the Washington Post describes how feline librarians can benefit human librarians and patrons: “Cats instantly make a library feel more welcoming, encouraging repeat visits while providing stress relief to overburdened staffers.” You can read profiles of a few of these library cats over at I Heart Cats, such as the story of Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. There are concerns about library cats causing allergies among patrons and staff, so I can understand if libraries may not want to keep actual live cats in the stacks. Cats can still live on in the library collection in other ways…
- Cats in Digital Image Collections: Many online image collections hosted by prestigious libraries include some wonderful cat photographs and drawings. For instance, the Images from the History of Medicine collection from the National Library of Medicine hosts nearly 100 cat-related images, ranging from scientific drawings of cats from 1657 to anthropomorphic hospital cat postcards. The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog from the Library of Congress lists about 490 images that include “cats” as a subject, such as a 1906 photograph of a cat in a dapper suit. The British Library Images Online also features over 600 cat images, many scanned from old manuscripts.
- Library Lolcats: Some book lovers have hopped on the Lolcat meme bandwagon, and a few Lolcat images are tagged with “library” at icanhas.cheezburger.com. Librarians have also written blog posts about Libraries in pop culture: library LOLcats, an internet librarian from Library of Congress discusses LOLCats and Libraries, and the British Library has even discovered Lolcat images from the middle ages.
I’m obviously pretty biased towards cats, but dogs also hold an important place as service and emotional support animals that are often allowed in libraries. Libraries are mainly built for humans, but that doesn’t mean our animal friends can’t occasionally visit and bring joy to patrons.