Library Pets

2 Jul

There’s been a story crossing my Facebook and Twitter feeds about a cat in White Settlement, Texas (a real place!) about a cat that has lived in the public library for six years.  The city council just recently “fired” the cat and amidst public outrage, the cat is back in the library after being reinstated by the City Council just two weeks after their vote.  NPR is actually reporting on this story, that’s how crazy it’s been!  Petitions were signed, comments being sent from around the world, all for a cat.

I love cats, I do, although I’m much more of a dog person, but I’d have to say that having certain animals in a public library setting is detrimental to people’s health.  Not all people, but some, have severe allergies to cat and dog dander and having an animal living in the library can make their visits extremely uncomfortable.  I have a friend who is extremely allergic to what seems like most of the world – pollen, dust, animal dander, etc.  I have a dog at home and regardless of how much I try and clean the house, vacuuming, dusting, washing our dog’s bedding, he’s only able to come over for a short time before the inhaler and eye drops come out.  It’s an unfortunate situation for everyone involved, but especially for my friend with allergies.

Now, granted, our library does have a library pet, but we have a turtle – a turtle which only staff is allowed to handle.  I’m honestly not sure if you can be allergic to reptiles or amphibians, but I would assume this issue is much less common than your typical dog and cat allergies.  We also have a therapy dog come into the library for reading practice.  This could potentially be an issue for people with allergies, but the dog only comes into the library for a specific amount of time and then leaves.  He even has a bed that is brought in by his owner so he has a place to lay down while the kids read to him.  Can this be an issue for people with allergies?  Most likely, yes, but not as much of an issue as a dog or cat living in the library full-time.

Who am I to say whether a public library should or should not have a library pet?  I think it’s important to think about who you’re serving and how best to do that – with or without a library pet.  Or, as in our case – look for a pet that is much more tolerable for people with allergies – fish, reptiles, amphibians, etc.



4 Responses to “Library Pets”

  1. Nancy Wright July 2, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    I love the turtle idea. Our library has an in house bee hive!

    • literacious July 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm #

      A bee hive sounds so cool! And our turtle has a ton of personality and there are kids who come into the library just to say hello to her!

  2. Jane Whittingham July 8, 2016 at 4:13 pm #

    I have to agree – I absolutely adore cats, and I’m such a sucker for the idea of library and book store cats, but I also have terrible allergies and asthma, and couldn’t work in a setting with a resident cat. We have a few pets in our library, but they’re only of the toy kind. 🙂

    • literacious July 8, 2016 at 4:25 pm #

      I would love if my dog could (calmly) sit behind my desk and chill out with me all day, but it’s just not fair for the people with allergies and asthma. And a stuffed animal/toy pet work just as well with kids!

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