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A-PURRR-il Amnesty & the Cat's Meow

Updated: Apr 9

cats in a gym playing basketball

March is gone, though NCAA "March Madness" continued on with the Final Four and the championship game.

In March, the public library in Worcester, Massachusetts tried an experiment they called "March Meowness." They had long since eliminated late fees (fines) on library materials returned after the due date (as we have also), but for the month of March they decided they would even forgive the fees for lost or damaged books -- for any patron who brought in a picture of a cat during March. Any kind of picture would do. It could be a photo of the person's cat or a neighbor's cat. The photo could come from a magazine, or the patron could simply draw a picture of a cat. Then the definition was extended to "Honorary Cats," and photos of ponies and puppies were accepted. Then people started bringing in photos to clear other people's accounts!

A cat surrounded by books leaning on a desk

The idea caught people's imagination. It went viral on social media, and major news outlets eventually picked it up. Cat photos arrived from as far away as Australia. The Worcester library covered an entire wall with cat photos.

The idea caught the imagination of Yours Truly. It was too late for March Meowness, but I decided I wanted to offer A-PURRR-il Amnesty, and the library board said it's OK. So if you have been staying away from the library because you owe money for a lost or damaged library item, this is your chance for forgiveness. Bring us a picture of a cat -- any cat will do.

There are rules, of course. You can't check out a book this week that you want to keep and just say that you lost it. This set of rules was borrowed from the Worcester Public Library.

1. Items must be MPL owned (we cannot waive fees from other libraries).

2. Items waived must be lost for at least 2 months or longer.

3. Items are not guaranteed to be waived, and forgiveness will be given at the discretion of library staff.

4. Accounts with 5 or more lost/damaged items will need to be reviewed by the Director, and patrons will receive a response as soon as possible.

5. You are not eligible for forgiveness if your lost or damaged items can be viewed as an attempt to restrict access to diverse content.

6. Account holders must be present.

7. This is an April event, not a permanent program.

a multicolor graphic that says "Ready, Set, Library!"

Of course, April has other things to celebrate besides A-PURRR-il Amnesty. April 7-13 is National Library Week. The theme is Ready, Set, Library! Library is normally a noun, but it's used as a verb here -- meaning "To engage with the awesome programs, resources, and community available at a library." We'll be doing some giveaways to celebrate!

Monday, April 8 is Right to Read Day. Tuesday, April 9 is National LIbrary Workers Day. Wednesday, April 10 is National Library Outreach Day.

Thursday, April 11 is Take Action for Libraries Day. Libraries across the state are struggling to provide the services residents need. Take Action for Libraries Day is a time for library lovers to reach out to their legislators to ask them to restore some of the library funding that was cut more than a decade ago. (It costs more to run a library now than in 2008!) Libraries provide awesome resources and services for their communities, but we could do so much more with restored funding!

a bookshelf displaying books about maple

April is also time for the Pennsylvania Maple Festival in Meyersdale. It's always a sweet time for folks here. Come see our display of maple-related books!

This year's Maple Festival is special because it is Meyersdale's 150th Anniversary. The Festival has joined the celebration by adding categories to the parade and window display contests for 150th-themed entries. I believe that there will be 150th-related references in the Legend of the Magic Waters performances, and perhaps even at the Maple Queen Pageant.

Meyersdale 150th Anniversary logo

A shop is being set up on Center Street across from Donges' Drive in to sell 150th Anniversary souvenirs during Maple Festival. T-shirts are already prepared. There will also be 150th glasses, ornaments, and a Cat's Meow of the 150th Anniversary logo.

You may have heard about the Meyersdale history book of photos that Jen is working on here at the library. It will NOT be ready in time for Maple Festival. It is a work in progress.

They say April showers bring May flowers. The deluge our area suffered to start the month brought nothing but headaches, but we are confident the rest of the month will be better, given the existence of A-PURRR-il Amnesty & the Cat's Meow celebrating our town's 150th birthday!

Wishing you a safe and happy month,

The Library Lady.


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