Rita Allen

Shelbyville-Bedford County Library

Rita Allen is director of Shelbyville-Bedford County Library.

Celebrating our animal friends

Sunday, June 22, 2014

This past Wednesday's summer reading program visit from the animals and humans of the Natural History Educational Company of the Midsouth got me thinking about animals in the library. Then I discovered that today, June 22, is "Take your dog to work day."

We are closed on Sundays, but I don't think I will inflict my rambunctious German Shepherd/Huskie mix on an unsuspecting library. Buddy doesn't eat books and I'm grateful that he sticks to chew toys, but the high velocity tail wagging can sometimes be a problem.

Although the library isn't the place for Buddy, it is always a place for humans and some humans come with companion service animals. These working animals and their "employers" are always welcome at the library. Service animals are helping people every day in many walks of life.

They are intelligent, well-behaved, and perform valuable duties that assist some of our fellow citizens in the leading more independent lives. Please remember if you see anyone at the library or elsewhere with a service animal that they take them to work every day and not just on a whimsical holiday. It is sometimes hard, but remember not to distract the animal from its important job.

A number of libraries in the U.S. have adopted library cats. In fact, there is even a national library cat society. I worked in a library with a staff member with four feet. L.C., as we named her, was a both popular and controversial addition to our staff. She roamed the building and had an uncanny sense about who wasn't interested in her attentions and who really needed a little bit of soft comfort.

Unlike the Shelbyville-Bedford County Library, we had several library branches in the county and were able to provide service to anyone who was allergic to cats at an alternate branch. L.C. was adopted as a kitten and lived with us for 15 years, much like Dewey in the popular 2010 book "Dewey: the small-town library cat who touched the world," by Vicki Myron. (If you are an animal lover like me, I can heartily recommend this book.)

We have a lot of materials at the library that relate to animals in a variety of ways. Let us help you find training manuals for pets, investigate a possible career working with animals, or just read a story that will warm your heart. And then there are the cute animal pictures you can find on the Internet--don't get me started!

We have another animal of sorts coming to visit us at the library for a summer reading program on Wednesday, June 25, at 10:30 a.m. Nashville Channel 4's own Snow Bird will be here to visit with us. I'll bet he has some interesting things to tell children about the weather!

-- Rita Allen is director of the Argie Cooper Library.

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