“Oaklee”: a nut of a name

Gabi Sumner smiles as she receives her own stuffed squirrel after winning the squirrel-naming contest. (Contributed)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MT LAUREL – The Mt Laurel Library’s logo portrays a squirrel sitting on an open book, but until March 16, the squirrel was nameless.

The library’s branch manager, Kate Etheredge, decided it was time to name the squirrel, so she began a contest.

“We started a contest from January 19 to February 9. Patrons could suggest names for the squirrel. They could do it in person or e-mail it,” Etheredge said.

“We had 25 submissions, and we had a committee that cut it down to nine. Between February 16 and March 2, they could vote online.”

Five-year-old Gabi Sumner suggested the name “Oaklee,” and her submission won by a landslide.

“Ninety-eight people voted, and Oaklee had 25 percent of the votes,” Etheredge said. “The next closest names were ‘Pearl,’ ‘Nutty Buddy’ and ‘Ima Reader.’”

The library staff discussed holding a squirrel-naming contest when the library opened a year ago, but as the library is approaching its one-year anniversary, the contest finally materialized.

“We thought it was time for our squirrel to have a name,” Etheredge said. “We use the logo for a lot of stuff. Last year with summer reading, we had the squirrel on a surfboard.”

Sumner received a stuffed squirrel of her own, a library t-shirt and the Beatrix Potter book, “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.”

“Gabi was very excited and came to our story time with Ms. Kristy,” Etheredge said.