Cultured Cats

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Category: Animal Issues and Pets
Published on Saturday, 27 February 2010 18:30
Written by Renee Montgomery

Rare Books and Rare Kitties

Recently the story of a cat named Dewey climbed the bestselling book list, a library cat from Spencer, Iowa who liked to hide in the Westerns section. Well, Spencer’s got nothing on West Adams, because we got library cats, Renaissance library cats.  Seven of them.  Meet Hannah, Molly, Belinda, Sophia, Mr. B, and Shandy at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, all named by librarians after classic book characters.

Hannah, a friendly orange tabby christened after playwright/poet Hannah More of the Bluestocking Society, is the library’s official greeter.  Maybe because Hannah has recently been put on a diet and is looking for a handout?  Clark reference librarian Carol Sommer jokes that Hannah’s favorite book is Bird songs = Aves ambrosiana: A Poetical Ornithology, by Miller Hageman, circa 1905. “This is a manuscript that has the musical notation of actual bird songs, and also includes poems based on the songs and, in some cases, illustrations of birds,” Sommer explains. More shy are Molly, a tortoiseshell cat named after Moll Flanders, and tabby Sophia from Tom Jones, who is mother to Belinda and Mr. B named from the novel Pamela.


November marked the passing of Clarisa the cat from old age.  Clarisa was tenderly laid to rest next to the body of Mr. Clark’s Boston Terrier called Snooks.  Longtime Clark groundskeeper Miguel Sanchez could offer no better tribute: “Clarisa was a good climber of trees and vines.  And she kept everything clean.  No rodents.”  Seeing that mice like to nibble on books, the Clark’s cultured cats play an important role in the local eco-system, earning their kibble.


The William Andrews Clark Memorial Library houses one of the most important collections of British literature in the world, rivaled only by the British Library in some respects.  It is managed by UCLA's Center for Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Studies.


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