A Cat Named Dennis: Just One Reason Monticello's Library Attracts So Many Visitors

Aug 28, 2014

The Jefferson County library gets nearly 80,000 visits per year. Librarian Natalie Binder says that's impressive in a county without a single traffic stoplight.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

The Jefferson County town of Monticello is home to a very busy library. An infusion of state and county funding will soon bring upgrades to the facility that offers more than books.

“This is gonna be the teen room,” says Jefferson County Library Director Kitty Brooks. She’s looking at blueprints for the upcoming remodel on Wednesday afternoon.

“This used to be an old high school media center, and that used to be a recording studio,” she says, pointing to a small, padded room.  

These days, the library serves many functions in Monticello, a town 30 miles east of Tallahassee with about 2,500 residents. Brooks says the activity adds up to nearly 80,000 visits every year.

And as librarian Natalie Binder says, the upgrades are welcome.

“What we’re gonna be doing is a cosmetic renovation, so new carpet, new furniture, all of that stuff. It’s great because: look," she says. 

Among the changes expected in the next couple months: Worn carpeting and cracked chairs will be replaced. The books will be rearranged to more prominently feature the popular fiction section. And computers will be added to the kids’ room.

Also for children who visit the library, recently hired Youth Services Librarian Courtney Nicolou has a furry friend for them to meet.

“I’m going to bring him in Friday, and the children can sign up to have one-on-one time to read to the cat,” she says.

The cat is a shelter pet Nicolou recently adopted with the library in mind.

“I was trying to name him Stacks, but my 2-year-old calls him Dennis, and I don’t know why, so Dennis has kind of stuck,” she says.

She says six children have signed up to read to Dennis at his debut visit this Friday.

Elsewhere in the library, Binder points to a room full of people sitting at computer terminals. 

“One of the things I’m most excited about is people from our community being able to go college here at the library. I think it’s terrific. We’ve had people go to nursing school or get their bachelor’s, their whole degree, right here in the library,” she says.

On top of that, a genealogy research service just moved into the building. And the Department of Children and Families holds office hours here. That’s how the library visitation numbers add up in a county that’s home to fewer than 15,000 people.