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Cuddly Kitties Make Libraries Popular

It seems to be animal time in libraries the last couple of weeks. The library news is chock full of animals. This story seemed to raise the ire of some librarians who were just appalled that some poor rube objected to a book in a high school library – The Book of Bunny Suicides. I feel a bit sorry for this poor objectionable woman, just like I do for some of my critics. It must be hard going through life with no sense of humor whatsoever.

"Anderson said her son, who usually brings home books about motorcycles and dirt bikes, checked out the book because his friends told him it was funny. But after reading the entire 80-page book, Anderson disagreed.

‘None of it made me laugh,’ she said." QED!

I think that’s how some of my earnest critics must feel about the AL.

Animals abound in libraries apparently, and not just fictional bunnies. By now I’m sure you’re all familiar with Dewey the Library Cat, the little creature who not only warmed the cockles of many a cold Iowan heart but who is now the subject of a popular book modestly entitled Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. The Amazon reviews tell it all. Dewey is "happy, heartwarming, and hopeful," a "sweet animal story," "a must read for all animal lovers," and a "heartwarming tale from the heartland." It sounds very sweet, and I’m planning to buy a copy to read to my kitty Chaps during cold winter nights. Just reading the Amazon reviews caused me to knit a new sweater with a cute little kitten on the front. I even got one of my colleagues to wear it.

Why do I mention this at all? Why do I bring up kitties and bunnies and such? Well, some people ask me, "AL, just what do you stand for? You’re always so critical, and I don’t like criticism because any comments about libraries that don’t sound peppy and enthusiastic make me uncomfortable because I’m a humorless dullard. So can you please tell me just what you actually want to see in libraries? What do you think will make libraries popular?"

Those are good questions, and because of the entirely appropriate tone of abject humility in which they were asked, I’ll answer them.

I want to see more heartwarming stories about little kitties. Isn’t that what we all want? And if there were more kitties and heartwarming stories about them in libraries, libraries would be much more popular.

Just read the astute commentary by a Wisconsin librarian chosen at random to comment on the heartlanding tale of Dewey the Suicidal Library Bunny.

"Eliot Finkelstein, instruction coordinator at the College Library at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said animal books are the ‘new breed’ of self-help books. [I wonder where he gets this stuff.]

‘With all the bad news surrounding us in the world these days, people want a book that will make them feel good and more positive about life, and pets are the natural antidepressant in our very stressful world,’ said Finkelstein, who also buys popular books for the library. ‘People want a new type of book that will make them feel better about life, and what makes us feel better than our pets?’"

The twopointopians and the gamey librarians have it all wrong. The homey, homely, and homeless people that haunt libraries don’t want videogames. They don’t want to read library blogs or the reference librarian’s latest tweet. They don’t want to upload their grandchildren’s home movies onto Youtube or view the Flickr page of the library’s latest birthday celebration. No, they want more cuddly animals and heartwrenching books about them. Just like all the earnest, peppy librarians out there, they want things that make them feel better about theselves, like cuddly, hearwearming books and maybe some hashish. And since that’s what the people really want, then that’s what I want to, because libraries are all about making people feel good, and so am I. That’s our whole raison d’etre.

So you librarians who just want more folks coming through the door, your problems are now solved. Stuff a cat into your book drop. Rescue it. Let it touch the world. Write a book about it. Get the book to touch the world. Cuddly books that touch the world are good, and don’t you forget it.

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Comments

  1. Hemholtz says:

    AL, can the blog adopt a kitty and name it Soma? Pretty please?

  2. Snuggling In says:

    Dear AL,

    You forgot to mention that libraries need to offer warm blankets, comfortable chairs and hot cocoa (with marshmallows, of course). Then, finally, libraries will satisfy all of our needs.

  3. soren faust says:

    I prefer Chicken Soup to kitties. That’s why I’m instituting a soup kitchen as part of the library’s offerings.

  4. Brooklyn Busybee says:

    I almost spit out my coffee reading that one. Hilarious.

  5. soren faust says:

    AL, don’t forget that your critics give you a lot of your stats. And stats are the holy grail for librarians.

    I think we should have a moment of silence for the AL’s critics…

  6. AL says:

    I’m sorry, the blog already has an adopted kitty. His name is Chaps. Chaps is about all I can handle right now.

  7. Matt says:

    I know someone who used to frequent that library and the cat had attacked one of their children. They were less than thrilled.

    I wouldn’t have a cat in the library because someone would be sure to be allergic, plus who wants to deal with cat hair and other messes.

    BTW, I’ve always wanted to write Chicken Soup for the Criminally Insane.

  8. Matt says:

    Also, any animal would be tortured and mauled by the hordes of toddlers that frequent the library.

  9. cynical realist says:

    AL:

    “Stuff a cat into your book drop. Rescue it. Let it touch the world. Write a book about it. Get the book to touch the world. Cuddly books that touch the world are good, and don’t you forget it.”

    Fresh outta cats. Will a Dachshund do?

  10. Brent says:

    One of my favorite books was written by Haruki Murakami, and in it, it had a guy who could talk to cats. So, I can’t rule out all books with talking cats as being bad. But AL may be right in this case.

  11. TwoQatz says:

    One of our campus kitties had adopted the library as home base. He got special food, lots of petting (cats are so good for reducing one’s blood pressure) and tons o’ love. Unfortunately he died in July. We sure do miss him. :(

  12. AL says:

    “cats are so good for reducing one’s blood pressure.” True! If all libraries adopted cats, they could reduce health benefits.

  13. librarydude says:

    A post about cats – we’ve now officially reached the bottom.

  14. Mr. Kat says:

    This blog reminds me of an old South Park episode where the kids are running competing Television News Networks. While one group runs a every serious program on issues and real news, the other group runs a simple program featuring nothing more then videos of super cute puppies.

    The perfect perscription for a ADD/ADHD world?

  15. Mr. Kat says:

    This blog reminds me of an old South Park episode where the kids are running competing television news programs. While one group runs a every serious program on issues and real news, the other group runs a simple program featuring nothing more then videos of super cute puppies.

    The perfect perscription for a ADD/ADHD world?

  16. Contrarian the Librarian says:

    meow

  17. Scott says:

    Matt, a Library Pit Bull would take care of those children that tortured and mauled the kitty. You just aren’t thinking big picture here.

  18. Frogger says:

    Remember that time on Beverly Hillbillies when Jethro went back to school with all those sixth graders? That was awesome!

  19. Morse says:

    So librarydude hates animals. What a surprise. He probably hates old people, too.

  20. librarydude says:

    Only the ones that smell like cats.

  21. Morse says:

    I’m with you on that one, I think.

  22. Dances With Books says:

    So, that lady read the whole book before deciding it was not funny (the Bunny Suicides)? Well, at least she did read it, but you are right, must be tough going through life without a sense of humor. Poor kid.

    As for the cat, hey, I say we do put more cats in libraries. Get that blood pressure down, get people more mellow, problem solved.

  23. Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org says:

    Here is a news story from Albuquerque, NM, showing McGruff the Crime Dog in the public library:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2LETq-wjTk

  24. Mr. Kat says:

    There aren’t many words in the book of Bunny suicides – ir it’s Sequal, the book of More Bunny Suicides…it’s a picture book of rabbits killing themselves – happily, might I add. So I don’t see how that lady would have any trouble reading it. Some people find it absolutely hilarious, and others find it absolutely appaling. To say the least, I found it a bit disturbing. The rabbits are all so cute!

  25. Matt says:

    “Matt, a Library Pit Bull would take care of those children that tortured and mauled the kitty. You just aren’t thinking big picture here.” Would it have lipstick on?

  26. jmo, mls says:

    College Library [Helen C. White Hall] at the UW-Madison [Varsity, hail to thee our alma mater...sorry] was once named the best alcohol-free place in college America to pick up members of the opposite s3x, or somesuch, so it’s never really been a serious place. In the spirit of library progress, the library now also allows undergrads to eat and talk loudly everywhere in the library. There are tiny “quiet ghettoes” for those who, you know, might want to study. Oh, yeah, and the library school is right upstairs.

  27. jmo, mls says:

    *I’ve always wanted to write Chicken Soup for the Criminally Insane.*

    How about Chicken Soup for the Condemned Soul?

  28. soren faust says:

    I love listening to Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult when I’m reading Bunny Suicides.

  29. librarEwoman says:

    I’m all for pets–cats or otherwise–in libraries. If libraries are worried about people having allergies to cats, they could always get a pet hamster or guinea pig. I know of at least one library that not only has a pet hamster, but they also have a ”

  30. librarEwoman says:

    pet gorilla.

  31. Free Bird says:

    I like to listen to bluegrass when I’m carving a pumpkin.

  32. Original Anonymous Librarian says:

    A nearby bookstore has a greyhound rescue group that comes on certain saturdays with dogs. On the other hand, you have gamey librarians probably circulating “Grand Theft Auto” somewhere.

  33. Mr. Kat says:

    I’ve always wanted to write Chicken Soup for the Criminally Insane.

    How about Chicken Soup for the Condemned Soul?

    Or how about Chicken Soup for the Condensed Soul?

  34. publibchik says:

    Dude, stick with the long-winded boring posts. Comedy’s not your thing.

  35. librarEwoman says:

    Once again, this comment system cut my comment in half. Grrr.

  36. LoneStar Librarian says:

    How about Chicken Soup for Dummies?

    Long live the Library Cat Society!

  37. sidney says:

    Did someone actually address the Annoyed Librarian as “dude”? Since when did inarticulate teenagers start reading the AL?

  38. Chik Phil A says:

    I think he was talking to Mr. Kat.

  39. sidney says:

    Oh, then that was ok.

  40. penn girl says:

    Yea, that dude likes to spout.

  41. effinglibrarian says:

    just curious, but after how many comments does the thread take on its own life independent of the original post?
    here, I think it’s 14.

  42. nhlibrarian says:

    Has anyone actually read the Dewey book? It’s not fine literature, but it’s not completely idiotic heartwarming fluff, either.

    And it addresses the issue of people allergic to cats – the size of the library made it pretty much a non-issue. Patrons who were allergic to cats had no problems with Dewey. Also, Dewey was declawed (which I don’t condone) so if he DID attack a patron, he couldn’t do much damage unless he started biting the person.

  43. doggiestyle says:

    I remember reading about Lassie when I was young. Old Yeller was good but too sad.

  44. AL says:

    I haven’t read the book yet, but just based on the description I think it should be required reading in all library schools. It couldn’t be any worse than the stuff students are forced to read now, and at least then they’d have warm hearts if no actual jobs.

  45. doggiestyle says:

    You think Old Yeller should be required reading in all library schools? Why?

  46. AL says:

    I was referring to the Dewey book, but it probably wouldn’t make any difference if it were Dewey or Old Yeller.

  47. Mr. Kat says:

    Chicken Soup for Dummies? hhhmmmm, is that in a yellow and Black cover? Wait a second…[google search]…Well, what do you know!!! It actually does exist…as does Chicken Soup for the Condensed Soul! Now there is not yet a Chicken Soup for the Demented, Deranged or Insane, but there IS Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul!

    As for cat books, there are no less then four titles from Chicken Soup involving cats.

  48. Morse says:

    My favorite is Ventriloquism for Dummies.

  49. WebbyGrl says:

    Well if there’s a cat in the library, then I can’t have the pedi’s with fish. Rats…

  50. WebbyGrl says:

    Cripes! I just got the last beer out of my keg! Phooey!!This is going to be a long night. :( Maybe I’ll take a lead from AL and make myself a nice neat martini. Oh well, we’re leaving for Texas Motor Speedway tomorrow for the NASCAR race and it’s just as well. I don’t need the dog/cat sitter and all her friends getting sauced while we’re gone.

  51. WebbyGrl says:

    Hey, did anybody watch the Obamamercial tonight? I watched it with a foil hat on so I wouldn’t get brain washed.

  52. Alaska Hottie says:

    That dude is whacked!

  53. infostud says:

    I’ve always wanted to write Chicken Soup for the Criminally Insane.

    How about Chicken Soup for the Condemned Soul?

    Or how about Chicken Soup for the Condensed Soul?

    Cat Soup for the Chicken Soul

  54. infostud says:

    I **hate* the blog comment coding here…

  55. soren faust says:

    I’m in full support of Al-Qaeda’s decision to officially endorse McCain/Palin. I knew those guys weren’t so bad and I think they’d make a good team.

  56. Greg Brady says:

    Marcia was an awesome cheerleader until that football hit her in the nose.

  57. German Shepard says:

    Cats are delicious!

  58. Matt says:

    Well, the cat may have been declawed at some point but this person said the kid was attacked. Maybe it bit the kid. Whatever.

    We have Therapy Dogs come in for reading with kids. The kids work hard but the dogs never seem to learn how to read. Sad. And yet they pass them right on through doggie school. At least they don’t stay in the library and get lipstick on the materials.

  59. advanced degree for librarians = bogus says:

    At least the dogs aren’t forced to go to grad school in order to get a job.

  60. Brent says:

    AL’s cat logo is my favorite clip art piece. I’ve seen this cat in posters recently; it’s a haunting reminder of AL.

  61. all mixed up says:

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  62. RL says:

    AL’s clip-cat is awfully close to the IWW cat. Maybe AL is just socialist-lite.

  63. Mr. Kat says:

    While that cannot be certain, the AL is DEFINATELY a Social-ite. Just look at how much activity is in this blog – and then look at the other blogs available at Library Journal.

  64. quality not quantity says:

    And look at how much activity is going on at Wal Mart.

  65. Mr. kat says:

    Yes – you’d think there was a rummage sale going on. Meanwhile Mainstreet USA has crumbled.

    In a world obcessed with statistics, Quantity [that which gets the most traffic] Trumps Quality [that which is actually of the highest value]. But don’t take my word for it – Just ask your local collection development librarian!!

  66. English Major says:

    Main Street hasn’t crumbled. You guys need to stop watching CNN. The media sensationalizes everything. It’s never as bad as they tell you.

  67. curmudgeon says:

    Kat — Dammit, get a spell checker. I don’t know how the heck you got into grad school let alone got out.

  68. Mr. Kat says:

    I’ll give you a hint: Grad school for MLS majors is REALLY EASY!

  69. dewey_decimal says:

    This post validates an idea my husband and I have been kicking around — starting a TV station that we’d call Puppies & Kittens Television (PKTV). Non-stop footage of puppies and kittens! Reality TV shows (The Cutest Kitten, in which one kitten would be voted off every week; Who Wants to Adopt a Pomeranian, in which various humans compete for the puppy’s affections). Biographies of celebrities’ puppies and kittens. I think we’d make a killing.

  70. Quaint says:

    Isn’t there a Pet station already, or is that just general animal oriented? You might be right about your cable TV idea. If you can get Purina and other like sponsors, who knows…..You could have a show devoted to stupid pet tricks. That’s always a winner, and pet videos folks send in. Maybe a Dr. Phil show for pets? The possibilities are perhaps only limited by your imagination.

  71. Jack O. Lantern says:

    Favorite Halloween candy: Smarties.

    Second favorite: Jolly Ranchers

  72. Nobama says:

    Twizzlers

  73. jmo, mls says:

    *Main Street hasn’t crumbled. You guys need to stop watching CNN. *

    Main street vanished a long time ago. All the businesses moved to Grand Canyon Parkway or some similarly named suburban loop filled with big box stores and Sam’s Clubs. I will, however, totally agree with you in your encouragement for everyone to stop watching C(CCP)NN

  74. English Major says:

    That’s the difference between adapting and crumbling. Commerce is alive and well in the U.S. It has just moved from independent stores (Main Street) to franchise stores (Grand Canyon Parkway).

  75. soren faust says:

    C(CCP)NN is the symetrically opposite side of Fo(oi)xx News, both a sham.

  76. libgirl says:

    Are brown eggs healthier than white eggs?

  77. librarybabe says:

    The best barbeque sauce uses vinegar, not ketchup.

  78. Howard B. Farthousin says:

    I farted