BOOKS: Puss in Books
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1998:
Puss in Books:
Adventures of the Library Cat
Video by Gary Roma
Iron Frog Productions (9 Townsend Street, Waltham,
MA 02453-6026), 1998.
30 minutes. $24.95 plus $3.00 p&h.
Taking a fluffy look at the lives of several cats
who inhabit or formerly inhabited public libraries, documentarian
Gary Roma raises but pussyfoots around the serious
issue of tolerance of animals in public places.
Indoors or out, wild or domestic, animals are
appreciated by most of library-goers, park-goers, and users
of other public space, but are often banished by the demands
of a vocal minority who claim allergies to cat dander, or terror
of cats, as Roma’s video discusses––or protest against
the presence of other species because they poop, make
noise, or eat gardens.
Usually, public officials are intimidated by threat
of lawsuit into disposing of the animals. Rarely do they get
as firm a come-uppance as did those who ousted the cat
Muffin from the library in Putnam Valley, New York, costing
the library $80,000 in bequests from cat-loving patrons.
Roma also omits discussion of feral cat colonies,
often found and fed in library shrubbery.
But Roma does discuss how “public” animals,
such as library cats, fill a void in the lives of urban dwellers
who for whatever reason cannot keep pets of their own.
Whimsy aside, library cats help maintain a sense of civic