April 24, 2018

Wild Library Life

Mr. Rocky Books racoon in his cardboard house

Mr. Rocky Books

Hundreds if not thousands of libraries around the country shelter animals as well as books—often a library cat, sometimes gerbils or other small, caged pets. But the Queens, NY, Library at Baisley Park is the only library we know of to have a resident raccoon.

The raccoon, now dubbed Mr. Rocky Books, found his way into the branch’s atrium, a glass “donut hole” with a small garden in the middle of the building, during Hurricane Sandy. He was found under a shrub when neighborhood volunteers came to clean up after the storm. Children who visit the library named him, made him a house, feed him, and read to him through the window glass. (Staff can access the atrium to refill his food and water.)

“He is a wild animal, after all. The assumption is that he will shuffle off the way he came as soon as the weather is conducive. For now, though, everyone is happy to have him as a guest,” said Joanne King, director of communications for the Queens Library.

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Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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  1. I hate to be a spoilsport, as on the surface this is a cute story, but as the Communications Director notes in the article, “He is a wild animal, after all.” I don’t think they should be feeding a wild animal nor expect that it will eventually “shuffle off” if it is being given food and water.

    Also, where is this animal defecating?

    I think it’s better for the raccoon and community if this wild animal is respected as such and not made too cozy here. Raccoons are very adaptable – it knows how to take care of itself.

    One woman’s opinion, but here’s some more info:
    “Raccoons are not pets!
    Raccoons do not make good pets. Like all wild animals, raccoons can carry diseases and parasites. When they reach sexual maturity, they can become territorial and aggressive. It is illegal in the State of Oregon to take a raccoon out of the wild to be kept as a pet.” http://audubonportland.org/wcc/urban/raccoons

    “Why should I clean up a raccoon latrine?
    A raccoon latrine is very likely to contain roundworm eggs that can be hazardous to human health. The adult stage of the raccoon roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis) lives in the raccoon’s intestine and produces microscopic eggs that are shed in the raccoon’s feces. One raccoon roundworm can produce more than 100,000 eggs a day. A raccoon can pass millions of eggs in its feces everyday, depending on how many worms are in its intestines. Once deposited in the environment, the eggs develop into the infectious form in 2-4 weeks, and can survive in the soil for several years.
    If these infectious eggs are inadvertently swallowed by humans, other mammals, or birds, larvae (immature stage of worms) hatch out of the eggs and move into the organs of the body.
    The larvae travel throughout the body and may cause serious eye disease, spinal cord or brain damage, or death. Discouraging raccoons from living around people and cleaning up raccoon latrines reduces the chance that people will get sick from raccoon roundworms.” http://www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/ehs/RaccoonLatrine.aspx

  2. Ty Romkier says:


    It’s temporary! Good grief.

    The coon will move on soon enough as long as they take up the food.

    They’re excellent at adapting, but in light of the mess of the storm it’s nice this critter has a place to take refuge until it’s secure enough to move along.

    Good intentions or not, at least they didn’t try to have it trapped and killed like most people seem to be all too quick to do. Kudos to this NYC library for being thoughtful of a wildlife species. I hope they’ll learn about the species and recognize that they’re not as vicious and evil as they’re made out to be. Like any wild animal who’s frightened, they’ll attack. Leave them alone and they’ll leave us alone.