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Patrick Roberts

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Canadian Library Cats

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Library cat NEOS - Fairview Campus Library, Grande Prairie Regional College, Fairview, Alberta
Library cat NEOS - Fairview Campus Library, Grande Prairie Regional College, Fairview, Alberta Library cat NEOS - Fairview Campus Library, Grande Prairie Regional College, Fairview, Alberta

Fairview, Alberta

Neos was a male red tabby cat at the library of Fairview Campus, a part of Alberta's Grande Prairie Regional College (GPRC). He was abandoned on the campus as a kitten and initially looked after by staff of the Animal Health Technician (AHT) program, who offered him to the library in May 2003. He was resident there ever since, wandering outside for the occasional sortie in the warm summer months. His name represented the library consortium of which GPRC is a member. Staff contributions paid for his upkeep, while immunisation and any other health needs were dealt with on site through the AHT program.

Monica Macdonald, library co-supervisor, who supplied our information, said of him: 'Neos is a very welcome surprise for our students, many of whom are away from home and missing their own pets. Often students come to the library just to see him and give him a quick pet before class or an exam. It's common for Neos to be found curled up on a student's lap, or beside their computer, while they are studying. Returning students are always quick to ask about him. Rodent control is another of his duties, as the library's back door opens out onto the college farm, so the occasional mouse does find its way in — but not for long!'

In May 2019 Neos was still going strong; he enjoyed, and was enjoyed by, the college students, especially making it his business to welcome new classes each session. Sadly we were informed that he died from old age in late November 2019. He was 17 years old, and will be much missed.

Many thanks to Monica for her account of Neos, and images.

Fairview Campus | Library | Library at Facebook | Neos at Facebook | Page about Neos and another

Library cat Samantha, late of Olds College Library, Olds, Alberta, Canada

Olds, Alberta

Olds College is an agricultural college situated in a small town in rural Alberta. There are, unfortunately, no longer any cats in their library, but we are most grateful to Clara Leischner for supplying the following account of the last two incumbents.

In the early 1980s the college library had to move into temporary quarters in a renovated barn, pending construction of a new learning resources centre. The move to the 'Barn' certainly eased the congestion that the library had been coping with, but there were other problems, chief among them an entrenched population of mice! (Remember, this is a country college.) Traps were a joke, high-tech pest control out of the question, so the obvious solution was to get a cat! Since people quite often dropped off unwanted pets (anonymously, of course!) at the College, there were any number of feral and semi-feral cats on campus, and as a result, there was a succession of cats conscripted to the Library for mouse patrol. Any cat that came to the Library was cared for, fed, groomed, doctored, and for the most part appreciated. Some stayed, some didn't. One that stayed (well, sort of ...) was a big, long-haired, orange tabby, appropriately named Leo. He was 'fixed', but I don't think he realized it, because he wandered, sprayed, didn't tolerate petting or grooming — in other words, he was a curmudgeonly bachelor! However, the mouse problem abated to a large extent owing to his zeal. When our new facility was finally finished in the mid-eighties, Leo made the move with the Library. There was not much for him to do there but to eat, sleep, dig in the big planters in the Library, and roam. He would sometimes disappear for a couple of days, then stalk in, fur in tatters, to eat, sleep and roam some more. And then one day he didn't come back. We never were able to find out what happened to him, and some of the staff were quite upset at the loss.

The then-library manager was an ardent cat-lover, so when someone found a lovely lynx-point Siamese-cross kitten called Samantha, it was decided to adopt her to replace the missing Leo. Sam was very pretty, but a little dim, and quite timid, seldom venturing beyond the circulation counter. She was definitely an indoor cat and quite content to be so. She enjoyed an occasional ride on a book truck, and had her favorite humans, but otherwise, she spent her days sleeping, usually in a dark cupboard, or else spreading copious amounts of cat hair on the sofa in the staff lounge. As I said, she was a bit dim, but she had one accomplishment that was quite amusing: she knew how to open a cupboard door just enough for her to squeeze in, and then somehow manage to close it most of the way from the inside! She seldom had to prove her prowess as a mouser, as mice were not a problem in the new building. We all envied her life of pampered leisure. Then, in the early 2000s, came a change in staff, and with it the decision that the library would no longer support a resident cat. A new home was found for Sam and we have not had a library cat since then.

Library pages | College at Facebook | College at Twitter

Library cat Charlie - Ponoka Jubilee Library, Alberta, Canada
Library cat Charlie - Ponoka Jubilee Library, Alberta, Canada
Library cat Charlie - Ponoka Jubilee Library, Alberta, Canada

Ponoka, Alberta

Charlie has been the resident cat since October 2009 at the Ponoka Jubilee Library in the small Canadian town of Ponoka, in central Alberta. She was given up to a vet's clinic by a woman who could no longer care for her — a fairly common story — but in Charlie's case it almost had a sad ending, as she was in line for euthanasia quite imminently had the library not been seeking a cat. A survey had been carried out, indicating that 90% of those participating favoured adopting a library cat, but the move had to be approved by the town council which owns the library. According to one councillor, the debate over whether to allow the cat prompted longer and more animated debate than any previous topic on the town records!

The result was fortunately in Charlie's favour. Mindful of possible complaints from patrons, though, every new library card issued is accompanied by information that there's a cat on the premises, and then if anyone comes in who does have an allergy or a strong dislike to her, she's kept in the back room during that person's visit. She also does not attend Storytime. However, she is very popular among most people, and many donations are received towards her upkeep. Ultimately library staff take full responsibility for her food, litter, vet's bills and also for feeding her when the library is closed; there's no question of any taxpayer money being used.

It was uncertain how old Charlie was; her previous owner heard about the adoption and claimed she was at least 15, but the vet put her at nearer 10. It took her a little while to get used to library life, and possibly she was not the ideal 'meeter and greeter', but was soon considered a great asset and a wonderful booster to staff morale. Most days she will be found snoozing in a large wicker basket behind the circulation desk, or maybe on a lap and 'helping' with some typing. For physical activity she uses the photocopier as a springboard to jump up on a 7-foot-high shelf where there's a spider plant that takes her fancy. Rumours that she deliberately mis-shelves some books about birds are unsubstantiated!

In early 2014 Charlie had been at the library for 4½ years. She could be a bit grouchy and careful of the people she chose to bestow her attention on, but nevertheless was well loved and cherished in the town.

In early 2019 the library told us that Charlie had 'retired from public service and lives in a new home in the country where she can rule the roost without getting annoyed by children and chatty patrons. She's about 21 now but still doing really well!' The library had moved to a more open-plan location and didn't feel it would be suitable for another cat.

Many thanks to Jaclyn Berry of Ponoka Library for supplying information and photos of Charlie.

Website | Page about Charlie and another | Facebook | Twitter

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Library Cats in America
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Library Cats - history, society, job description, and rules

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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He's no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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