|Courtesy of Baker and Taylor, LLC|
The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town...and the World
Libraries have a long history, perhaps dating to ancient Egypt, of keeping cats. In the 19th century, the British government paid libraries to house felines, who earned their room and board by keeping rodents from eating the glue and binding off of the books.
We have our own cat history. Librarians know us by our beloved cat mascots, named - of course! - Baker and Taylor.
Both have passed away, but Baker and Taylor were the pride of the Douglas County Public Library in Minden, Nevada. The first of the pair took up residence there in 1983 and was named Baker, because he slept in a Baker & Taylor box. The librarians told a Baker & Taylor sales director that Baker needed a friend. Taylor followed two months later, thanks to a grant from Baker & Taylor.
Baker and Taylor carried on the long tradition of working library cats. The pair spent much of their time at the checkout counter, and many people dropped by just to see them.
Baker and Taylor have been immortalized on our company's posters, tote bags and calendars. At trade shows, librarians line up to be photographed with larger-than-life Baker and Taylor models.
Baker and Taylor provided great joy to our staff, library patrons and book lovers. Their legacy lives on...
Serving as Mascots for Baker and Taylor, a well-known company in the publishing business since the early 1800s, has brought these two cats international recognition...you may have even seen posters or other items with their pictures when you've visited libraries across the world. But Baker and then Taylor never really knew or cared that they were celebrities... They knew and loved their home in a small-town library and it was enough to be the center of attention to town patrons. If others later came to visit from far away, well, they were just more individuals to welcome into their home...
|Courtesy of Author|
Then an interesting visit occurred. Bob Sutherland, a Baker and Taylor representative made his usual visit...and met Baker! In my words, he was charmed! And before long, he had arranged with the company to buy another cat to become Taylor! And their publicity campaign began!
The True Tails of
Baker and Taylor
By Jan Louch
With Lisa Rogak
With Lisa Rogak
Becoming famous is just not what Baker and Taylor were about. And the book you'll be reading is much more intimate than any publicity you may have ever come across. As everybody knows, cats become part of the family. In this case, it was Jan Louch who was their primary caregiver and the rest of the staff. And later when they got used to it, the Library patrons. Baker was the social one of the two and spent most of his time either sleeping or greeting guests on the main desk at the front door.
|Courtesy of Author|
Taylor spent most of his time cuddled up on Jan Louch's desk corner... Often when he finally decided to roam a little, many times he would be in the middle of the main area in what everybody started calling his Buddha position...
It is hard to separate the memoir of Jan Louch from that historical material on Baker and Taylor. Once cats have paired with a human, their lives are intertwined from then on.
I was happy meeting Jan and now consider her a close friend, because she is obviously a member of the same club I belong to... "Books-Cats-Life is Sweet!" For you other members, this book is a must-read, LOL. You can tell just by reading how she talks about the cats, how she cares for them and loves them...In fact, there is a cute picture in the book of her when she is very young and she's already begun making animal friends, in that case with a goat...LOL Here she is with her library cats...
|Baker and Taylor were great teachers, and in the end, I am grateful to my feline officemates|
for teaching me several vital life lessons.
The first thing they taught me is to be true to yourself. If it's in your nature to sleep twenty hours a day,
as it was for Baker, then go for it and don't let anything get in your way.
For Taylor, no one could stop him from sitting like a Buddha, and that was perfectly fine with him.
Next, be the best at what you do. If that happens to be sleeping, then take those paws,
put them over your face, and just concentrate. For Taylor, holding staring contests with
humans who clearly lacked the skill in comparison helped him to maintain his
superior Buddha-like demeanor.
Lastly, never lose sight of your primary purpose in life. I'm not sure if Baker and Taylor
had conscious goals, other than Baker's ceaseless quest to find the warmest place in the
library and Taylor's desire to personally lick clean every cup of yogurt that crossed his path,
but the fact that I never saw them waver in their determination helped me
immeasurably in my own life.
Another personal endeavor that Jan took on was the establishment of a pen pal with a teacher and a second grade class in Ohio, and the creation of a Baker and Taylor Pen pal club... Even though the class changed every year, she kept the club up-to-date and the teacher noted that children were specifically asking to be in her class so that they could join and be a pen pal with Baker and Taylor! Cool, right!
One particular character that meant a lot to me in providing his personal interaction with the cats was Mr. Figini, an elderly autistic gentlemen who visited the library routinely It was both heartwarming and then heartbreaking as Mr. Figini first came to know and care for the cats...and then when, first, Baker, died. It was a very long time before Mr. Figini did not continue to look for the cats, even though he understood they had both died. In fact, his family was surprised and pleased to learn how much he had become close to the staff and cats at his local library and donated a tree to be planted on the grounds in his memory..
The main thing that readers will see, if you haven't already known it, is how much company cats can be when welcomed into your home. I was sad to learn that Baker and Taylor were not replaced at the library when they died... Frankly, I've been looking around to see if I could find a future library cat or two just in case the Board members change their minds.
For cat lovers and book lovers too, there really is no question about it... Get it, or give as a gift that will be treasured! I am sure you'll know who will love it! Highly recommended...
Jan Louch was Assistant County Librarian/Reference for the Minden branch of the Douglas County Library in Nevada for eighteen years before her retirement in 1997. Her previous jobs have included restaurant chef, nurse’s aide, chamber of commerce manager, and 4-H Club coordinator. She grew up in the Bay Area during the Depression and has lived in Great Britain, Ohio, and New York State. She has lived in the Carson Valley of Nevada since 1969.
Lisa Rogak is the bestselling author of numerous books, most recently, Cats on the Job. She lives in New Hampshire. Learn more at www.lisarogak.com.