Dewey Readmore Books: The Celebrity Library Cat Of The 1980s
By | May 24, 2020
In the 1980s, America fell in love with Dewey Readmore Books, a convolutedly named cat who lived in the Spencer Public Library in Spencer, Iowa. Throughout Dewey's 19 years, he touched hearts and inspired his librarian mom to write about his life story in books like There's a Cat in the Library and Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World. Dewey may be an early meme, but he was also a pretty cool cat.
Saved From A Chilly Fate
On January 18, 1988, Vicki Myron was unlocking the doors, gathering returns, and otherwise preparing the Spencer Public Library for another day of literary service when she discovered an eight-week-old male kitten in the book drop box. In 2006, Myron explained the confusion surrounding Dewey's discovery:
We didn't know if someone abandoned him or if a Good Samaritan found him on the street and shoved him in the book drop to get him out of the cold. His paws were frozen. We warmed him up and fed him, and he just purred and cuddled. From day one, we felt he'd be the right personality for the public. He's always loved people and meetings.
After nursing the kitten back to health, she named him "Dewey" after Melvil Dewey, the creator of the Dewey Decimal System. A week after his discovery, the library decided to officially adopt Dewey, and he received his first taste of media attention from the Spencer Daily Reporter.
Named By Popular Opinion
"Dewey" was only meant to be a temporary nickname for the errant tomcat. The library asked the public to submit ideas for their new friend's permanent name, but after sifting through 387 responses (they usually only received about a dozen entries from such queries), they found that most respondents wanted to keep Dewey's name the same. The librarians took it upon themselves to add the faux surname "Readmore Books."
This wasn't the only contest that Dewey took part in—he was also entered into a pet photo contest at a local shop a few years later and crushed it with 80% of the vote. With this win, it became clear that Dewey wasn't just another library cat.