Patrick Cather

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James Patrick Cather (born May 12, 1947 in Birmingham) is a noted publisher and book collector.

Cather is the son of Bill and Virginia Cather, and grew up in the family's A. H. Cather Publishing Company. When he was about 12 he rescued a pile of 78s which a neighbor had put out for the trash and discovered a love for classic jazz and blues. While a student at Shades Valley High School in the 1960s he pursued an active interest in record collecting and in experiencing and documenting Birmingham's music scene. He frequented blues clubs in the Birmingham area and sometimes sat in on piano. He founded his own recording label, Vulkan Record Company, and, with help from Frank Adams, produced two albums featuring Robert McCoy. He also launched a record collector's magazine, Music Memories Monthly, which merged with the Ventura, California-based Jazz Report in 1963 and was distributed to more than 5,000 subscribers as well as through agents in London, England; Brussels, Belgium; Stockholm, Sweden; and Victoria, Australia.

Cather studied English at UAB, where he was the founding editor of the Kaleidoscope student newspaper with Melinda Hidle. Before completing his degree he withdrew to take over management of the family business. He also became an active collector of rare books and printed materials, with a focus on Alabama and Southern history and culture.

In 1979 Cather and partner Bo Brown founded Ex Libris, a used and antique book shop at The Garages. As Cather & Brown Books the business operated through the mid-1990s. With her permission, Cather published Harper Lee's story "Romance and High Adventure" in a limited edition in 1993. Cather continues to offer materials for sale through an eBay store.

Cather has donated most of his collection of rare books and ephemera to the UAB Archives. He has also donated an extensive collection of Alabama cookbooks and restaurant menus to the Auburn University Library and Archives.

Cather was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame in 2023. He is a member of the board of trustees of the Birmingham Historical Society and also served on the board of directors for the Birmingham History Center.



  • Cather, James Pat (1991) "The dealer in local materials: The Alabama local history librarian and the out-of-print problem." Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 65-76
  • Adams, Frank E. & Burgin Mathews (2012) Doc: The Story of a Birmingham Jazz Man. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press ISBN 9780817317805
  • McClafferty, Clair (Summer 2019) "Paper Trail: The Kaleidoscope marks 50 years of reporting the news." UAB Magazine