- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) - A furry black-and-white cat wanders around the Staunton Public Library.

But “Molly” is not homeless, and a sign on the entrance door lets patrons know.

She has a family that takes care of her, but has taken a liking to the grounds outside the bookstacks.

Owner Sarah Butterfield said Molly just doesn’t want to stay inside.

“She’s like a teenager wanting to escape,” Butterfield joked.

The only time that Molly is a full-time resident of Butterfield’s house near the library is during winter, when it’s too cold for her.

Molly has been very social with humans during Butterfield’s seven years of ownership.

“She doesn’t like you to really touch her - she likes you to talk to her,” Butterfield said.

The library staff and many patrons have accepted Molly’s daily presence. People love her, Library Director Ruth Arnold said.

“Even people you wouldn’t expect to have a soft spot for Molly,” Arnold said. Having the cat around makes the library less institutional, she said.

One day recently, library patrons and staff noticed Molly’s regular visits around the building. They eventually learned who owned the cat and what her name is.

They put up posters to alert patrons that Molly is also a visitor and does have a home, but to feel free to give her some love.

“She just got to be very popular,” Arnold said. “People’s reaction is usually quite positive.”

The library staff has a shelf in the back for Molly’s things, like bowls and food - much of it donated or purchased by staff. They even have a huge framed photo of Molly behind the front desk. Library workers and Butterfield think the library should use it for marketing. Lots of people have asked for copies, Arnold said.

The benefits of a cat

Some parents can find it challenging to get their children into the library, Arnold said. Having Molly around to greet people serves as an incentive to enter the building.

She’s sort of like the mascot.

“The children are very fond of her, and it’s part of the library experience,” Arnold said.

Some time ago, Molly went missing, and lots of patrons were distressed about it. Butterfield said people came up to her and said how sorry they were the cat went missing.

“There were a lot of people who were emotionally invested in this relationship with Molly,” Butterfield said. “She gave them something that they weren’t able to get elsewhere. That’s really cool to me.”

“She’s sympathetic. And she stays there, and she likes you to talk to her,” Butterfield said. “I think that a lot of people need that connect, and they’re not able to get it with a person sometimes … I think that she’s a companion for a lot of people.”

Often at the end of the day, Molly sits on one of the two pillars outside the main library entrance, said library worker Cleveland Morris - much like the large lions that are outside the New York City Public Library.

“I think she really wants to be seen as the guardian of the library,” Morris said. “She really wants to see us leave … and monitor us as (part of) her daily schedule because it tells us she’s in charge.”

___

Information from: The News Leader, http://www.newsleader.com

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide