Farewell to Valley librarian and author
The descendent of a California governor and an author in her own right, longtime Genoa resident and pioneer Douglas County librarian Jan Louch died Nov. 3 at home in Gardnerville.
She’d traveled before coming to Carson Valley where her parents, Hap and Kay Haight, lived in 1969. After a brief stint as the director of the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce she found the perfect job and boss at the Douglas County Public Library in 1978, according to her daughter, Julie.
It was she and library founder Yvonne Saddler, who joined the Richard the III Society together, who decided to bring two Scottish fold cats, Baker and Taylor when the new building was finished in 1982.
“We both had a love of England, and Scotland,” she said. “Our love of kitty cats led to Baker and Taylor.”
Louch decided to buy Baker after moving to the current location of the library at 1625 Library Lane.
The site of the library was where an old alfalfa field was, so they had a problem with mice and moles, Louch told then-Record-Courier reporter Aurora Sain.
They decided to name the first cat Baker after seeing the title of the Baker and Taylor book distribution company.
They wanted to get another cat so that Baker would have a friend, but they couldn’t afford to buy another Scottish fold.
The librarians told the publishing company about Baker, and they purchased Taylor for them, completing the library’s needs.
The cats’ fame was to spread far beyond Carson Valley and, after she retired, she collaborated with New York Times best selling author Lisa Rogak on the “The True Tails of Baker and Taylor.”
Cats were traditionally kept in libraries to protect against rodents that liked to eat the glue that binds the books together.
“Don’t ask me why,” said Louch. “It’s an acquired taste I guess.”
The Baker and Taylor Company used the cats as their mascot, making posters and turning the cats into overnight celebrities.
People came from all over to meet the cats, children wrote them letters and local library goers were able to enjoy their company every time they borrowed a book.
Kurt Hildebrand is editor of The Record-Courier. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-782-5121, ext. 21