Dewey Readmore Books
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Dewey Readmore Books (circa November 1987 – November 29, 2006) was the resident cat at the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa, garnering worldwide publicity. The cat's story was the subject of a book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, published in 2008 and written by Spencer librarian Vicki Myron.
In January 1988, on a freezing winter evening, an eight-week-old male kitten was abandoned in the outside book drop at the Spencer Public Library. The library staff discovered the kitten the next morning. The kitten was badly frostbitten and so filthy that everyone thought he was grey instead of his natural copper and white. Although the entire staff cared for him, library director Vicki Myron took primary responsibility. Because the veterinarian declared that he was about 8 weeks old, Vicki and others decided arbitrarily that his birthday would be said to be November 18, 1987.
Although some libraries have had a tradition of resident cats, this was the first such cat in Spencer, so approval was required from both the board of trustees of the library and the Spencer City Council. Once they approved, the kitten was vaccinated and neutered. Thereafter, Myron and the library staff cared for Dewey and accepted donations for his food and care. No public funds were used for his care.
A naming contest, "Name the Kitty", was held to choose his name. Dewey was the most popular choice, named after Melvil Dewey and his library coding system. The staff chose his middle and last name, Readmore Books. He usually went by Dewey, or sometimes, "Dew" or "The Dew."
Dewey's breed is unknown. At first, Myron had thought he was part Persian. People came to believe that he might have been a Maine Coon cat or a Norwegian Forest cat. Some others have argued he was a Tabby cat, or a common mixed breed.
During hard economic times in Iowa, Dewey comforted those in distress and cheered up both patrons and staff, both children and adults. Soon his lovable personality began to attract visitors and fan mail from all over the U. S. and the world. His fame grew worldwide as tourists discovered him living at the library; Dewey starred on Library Friends' fundraising postcards, cat-themed wall calendars, and in the 1997 documentary Puss in Books: Adventures of the Library Cat, and resides posthumously on the library website. Dewey stories appeared in the local newspaper and subsequently in a variety of magazines such as Cat Fancy, and Country. He later appeared on Sioux City television and then across Iowa on public television in a documentary film. Word of Dewey continued to spread and eventually he was included in a television program in Japan.
Dewey lived to be 19. During his last year he suffered from digestive complications and hyperthyroid disease. He was euthanized on November 29, 2006, after the veterinarian found a tumor in his stomach and discovered that Dewey was in constant pain. Obituaries appeared in more than 250 publications as well as on several television newscasts. Dewey was cremated (a local crematorium donated the services) and his ashes buried on the library grounds with a memorial stone donated by a local funeral home.
Some of Dewey's favorite things were catnip (he was crazy around fresh catnip), rubber bands (which he ate), Christmas trees, full-fat yogurt, his red wool, and boxes. As a kitten, he adored the library secretary Kim's typewriter. He also adored Vicki Myron's daughter, Jodi Marie.
Dewey was very finicky with his food. He only ate Fancy Feast, and he hated cat food with any sort of seafood in it. The staff tried beef, pork, chicken, liver, but none worked for very long. They kept an entire shelf of cat food just for Dewey.
Vicki Myron, who had been manager of the Spencer Public Library for 25 years, retired from her position after Dewey's death. Myron wrote a book, Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World, that was published in September 2008. By late 2008 it was on the New York Times bestseller list (November 16, 2008). Her second book for adults, Dewey's Nine Lives, was released in October 2010. Myron has also written three books about Dewey for children, including Dewey's Christmas at the Library (New York: Little, Brown, 2010: After finding a red ball of yarn, Dewey the cat, who lives in the Spencer, Iowa, public library, finds a way to help decorate the Christmas tree.). This was translated into French by Claudine Azoulay as Dewey Fête Noël (Toronto: Editions Scholastic, 2011).
- Nastasi, Alison (July 23, 2012). "Famous and Fabulous Library Cats". Flavorwire. Retrieved February 2, 2013.
- "Library Cat Gets $1.25-Million Book Deal". American Libraries (American Library Association) 38 (5): 18. May 2007.
- "New York Times Best Seller Number Ones Listing". hawes.com. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
- Vicki Myron (author) with Bret Witter (contributor), Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2008), ISBN 978-0-446-40741-0
- Vicki Myron (author) with Bret Witter, Dewey's Nine Lives (New York: Dutton, 2010), ISBN 978-0-525-95186-5
- Spencer Public Library Dewey Biography
- Dewey pictures
- Iowa Public Television video on two Iowa cats
- Dewey site related to Myron book
- Dewey the library cat is back on the shelves - USA Today
- Purr 'n' Fur: Dewey Readmore Books, of Spencer Library, Iowa
- Variety story on proposed film Library Cat with Meryl Streep
- AmericanProfile article on Dewey and library cats
- Library Cat's Map an interactive world map of library cats
- Best Sellers - November 16, 2008 - New York Times