Browser, a shelter cat in Tarrant County Texas, was brought to the White Settlement Library about six years ago as a mouser. He was then six months old. He has never known another home.
Since Browser’s arrival, the library has not needed to use professional exterminators, which eliminated not only cost, but the use of harsh chemicals which ended up on the books, eroding pages and posing a health risk to library patrons because they remained in and on the carpets and other surfaces.
Lillian Blackburn, president of the Friends of the White Settlement Public Library board said that all of Browser’s care, including food, supplies and veterinary bills is paid for by donations and fundraisers.
His contributions to the small town’s library patrons have since grown to include encouraging children to read, offering comic relief and comfort for volunteers, and he has become a beloved member of the community. To all but one, that is.
Councilman Elzie Clements determined that Browser poses a liability risk for the town and that his presence keeps people with allergies from entering the library.
In a 2-1 Council vote in June 2016, Browser was ordered to be removed from the library.
When residents learned of the decision, they were up in arms. The story went viral, and Mayor Tom White said he received emails from all over the US and the world, including Germany, France, Malaysia and Canada. The media and public pressure to reverse the decision to relocate Browser was intense.
A few weeks later, the City Council reconvened. A new vote was taken, and the Council voted 3-0 in favor of allowing Browser to stay.
In November, Clements lost his bid for re-election. In his farewell speech, he maintained his position, saying, “My view hasn’t changed — I don’t believe we need animals in our buildings.” Mr. Clements’ view doesn’t count anymore.
Mayor White made a proclamation December 13, saying, “Browser is still employed and will be as long as he wishes to continue his duties as mascot and reading helper for the children at the library.” His official title is Library Cat For Life.