by Vicki Myron
Dewey is the touching true story of the small-town library cat who touched the world. He began his life as an unwanted waif, tossed away, only to become a being of endearing character.
On a bitter and extremely record breaking cold January evening he was dumped into the book drop of the Spencer Library in Iowa. That morning he was found in the metal box by the Librarian, Vicki Myron. He was crammed in a corner in a small space with books scattered haphazardly on top of him. He was tiny, freezing and his paws were all frost bitten!
Vicki picked him up and since he didn’t stop shivering decided to give him a warm bath. With a touch of shampoo she gently washed the gray kitten. As the water turned grimier the kitten turned lighter and after blow drying it she found that he was a beautiful long haired orange tabby. She named him Dewey after Melville Dewey who had invented the Dewey Decimal System used by libraries to catalogue books. Dewey was about eight weeks old.
As the library staff started coming in for the day the little kitten won all their hearts. Through all his travails he still remained gentle and loving to each one.
Being a town library Dewey’s remaining had to be approved by several factions. Once that hurdle was passed he became a permanent resident of the Spencer Library. He was a friend to everyone who walked through the doors from infants to centenarians. Patrons vied for having Dewey sleep on their laps. Children petted him as he meandered around them during story hour. Shy children became animated with him. Handicapped children were soothed by his purring as he lay on their laps sleeping.
Vicki, the librarian, was going through her own personal problems, especially daunting physical ones and Dewey was her mainstay. He always sensed when she was having a bad day and stayed by her side giving her moral support. When she arrived early to open the library he would always be at the door waiting for her, scratching at the window with one paw as he waved good morning to her. Afterwards, at promptly 9:00, he would position himself at the front entrance door and greet each patron as they entered.
Dewey loved the library and everything about it. It was his domain. Rubber bands were his downfall. He would eat them which was not good for him. He had such a keen sense of smell that he would burrow through drawers until he found one, no matter how diligent the staff was in hiding them. He always enjoyed riding on the book carts as the staff wheeled them around to reshelve books. Any box that came through the door was his, no matter the size. After it was emptied he was in it. If he didn’t fit, he’d lie down and put one paw inside claiming it.
Many was the time when a patron would be browsing through the shelves and pull a book out to be surprised by a paw following it through to touch them. How often a businessman would come in to do some research and shortly after would find Dewey sleeping in his briefcase. Then there were the students who came in to study and Dewey would lounge on top of their papers. Even the staff members would often have Dewey laying on the top of their computer with his two paws draping over the screen.
He was a cat of many talents and as he grew he learned he could climb. Ofttimes he could be seen sleeping or walking along the books on the top shelves. One day he was not to be found. Later in the afternoon a bemused staff member pointed up to the ceiling. There was Dewey poking his head over the rim of a lighting fixture where he had been sleeping. He had conquered the ultimate height of his premises!
At first, Dewey’s antics were passed around by word of mouth. More and more people from town started to come to the library, adults and children alike. Dewey wasn’t prejudicial, he liked everyone and everyone felt as if he was giving them preferential treatment. That was his charisma.
Then people from out of town started to come to the library. Prior to Dewey library visitors numbered 63,000 a year. After he arrived it climbed to over a 100,000 and not everyone was checking out books!
His fame spread by local newspaper, then national; local TV, then national and eventually was picked up by international media as well. Crews came from Japan, England, Australia and elsewhere to film him. He received fan mail from all over the world, yet Dewey never changed. He remained the same loving and spirit-nurturing cat to everyone during his nineteen years.
Throughout the book the author expounds on the beauty of Iowa. Her descriptions make you feel as if you are there experiencing the aura of the heartland. You learn about the trials and hardships of a small agricultural town struggling to survive through the ups and downs of the industry. With courage and community they persevered. A good encompassing picture of how Iowa and its people overcame the sometimes detrimental changes is given through the pages.
This book is about a very special cat, one who was like a guardian angel of the library. No one was ever left untouched by him. It is a book that anyone and everyone should read. It is inspiring. – Marilu Shellie
Below is a YouTube link from CBS that is a clip of Dewey in action if you wish to see him: