WHITE SETTLEMENT — If there's any question as to who rules the roost at the White Settlement Public Library, all you need to do is look down to find the answer.
"The little children come in, squealing sometimes, 'Where’s Browser? Where’s Browser?'" said Lillian Blackburn, president of Friends of the White Settlement Library.
For the past six years, Browser — the gray-striped, short-haired former shelter cat — has called the library his home. Blackburn says no taxpayer dollars are used on Browser; he's sustained with funds from donations and fundraisers.
But library supporters like Blackburn were shocked last month when the White Settlement City Council, seemingly out of the blue, voted to remove the cat from his literary lair. The cat was to be removed in 30 days.
Mayor Ron White and council member Paul Moore say the council member who proposed the cat relocation fell ill before the vote and never vocally expressed why he proposed it.
Online, there was fury over the furry friend's ouster from all over the world. The pressure was palpable.
Which brought us to Friday. In the small, unusually-packed council chambers, a tense special meeting played out. It had been called specifically to address Browser. At times, those attending the meeting yelled out at or interrupted the council.
"Since I recognize there are matters which require our attention and need our focus more than this," said council member Elzie Clements," I'd like to make a motion to reinstate the cat to the library, so long as administration is feasible."
A quick, unanimous vote made it official.
"Browser is reinstated to the library," announced Mayor White. The crowd cheered loudly and waved its hands.
Council member Moore was among those who originally voted to remove the cat.
"We have a lot of citizens who can't utilize the library because of bad allergies," he cited as one of the reasons for his initial decision. But he changed his mind Friday, saying he listened to the voters.
"It got kind of out of hand," he said. "But I'm glad it's over with."
So were supporters like Blackburn.
"This cat belongs here," she said.