I'm not a cat person--if my parents' calico could talk, she'd readily testify to all the ways me and my basset hounds have made her miserable over the past decade. Still, I'd be foolish to ignore that books and cats are a winning combination. Librarian Jan Louch (with Lisa Rogak) explores that special bond in her new book The True Tails of Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town...and the World.
Baker & Taylor want you to use the library. © Baker & Taylor LLC. Reproduced with permission from St. Martin's Press
In an era before the morass of social media made Grumpy Cat and other creatures international celebrities, there were Baker and Taylor. Bags, posters, and other freebies from the eponymous library distributor became cult items at library conferences (like the BEA taking place in Chicago this week), and remain fan favorites today, as their namesake company continues to use their likeness on promotional items.
Louch's memoir explains how she and fellow librarians at her sleepy public library in Minden, Nevada, initially adopted a cat to tackle a mouse infestation. When a representative from Baker & Taylor learned the cat was named for their company, a companion was shrewdly purchased for the library. In return, the creatures posed for company advertising, resulting in a wildly successful marketing campaign that remains a cultural touchstone for librarians across the country. Posters and other items routinely pop up on eBay and other auction sites for around $30.
The inaugural members of Douglas County Public Library's Feline Literati section in their first poster for Baker & Taylor. ©Baker & Taylor LLC. reproduced with permission from St. Martin's Press.
The True Tails of Baker and Taylor: The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town...and the World, by Jan Louch with Lisa Rogak; St. Martin's Press, $25.99, hardcover, 274 pages. May 2016.