Sex and The Librarian

and the Librarian.

(This is not a Haiku)

Trying to put those two images into the same mental space will give you a number of responses depending on what perspective you’re looking from.

If you’re a random average member of the public, going by stereotypes and lack of any realistic depictions of a librarian, you could probably gravitate towards the rather succinct response of: "EW."
If you’re a random  average academic librarian,  you would mutter something incomprehensible about undergraduate students not wearing appropriate clothing or bothering you with, *shudder* skin exposed, and go have a quiet cup of tea in the office while ruminating over Dickinson and a crossword.
If you’re a random average public librarian you would….NOT talk about it?!

I'm surprised (And not in a "Guess what I have on under my overcoat kind of way" either.)*

Riding the desk is part of the job description, and said Riding requires dealing with the public’s queries on books we may or may not have. (We don’t have those fancy separate information desk thingies. We have one desk for EVERYTHING, cos that’s how we ride…er roll.) Questions about the general whereabouts of books like The Joys of Sex, the Kama Sutra,  and books with information on specific Body Changes, Mens/Womens’ Plumbing issues that have nothing to do with household maintenance, are all dealt with in a professional and non judgey manner. Similarly, the books from the Romance section whose authors have names like Christine Feehan, J.R Ward and Nina Bangs. (I didn’t make up that last one.) I, as well as my colleagues can give a fair appraisal of whether a book has more or less Bang within its pages. Sex and the Librarian in a purely bibliographic way is something librarians can comment on in a professional and sober manner.

But something happened.

To find out what let us
again consider the mental landscape of Sex and the Librarian, now shove in Fifty Shades of Grey.
What’s your mental landscape looking like now?
If you’re a random average member of the public, the "EW" would have some chains and  a safeword.
If you’re a Academic librarian, there would be a shot of something strong in your cup of tea, along with a few exclaimed "Good Lords" to punctuate your heightened.... engrossment in the book. (Although publicly you would denounce it as filth of the highest order and chastise the younger academic librarians and shelving minions for reading it, and possibly start using safe words in staff meetings.)

If you’re an random average librarian (that reads, and you are not undead) you would devolve into a 1950’s housefrau  or a giggly (tee-hee) teenaged girl who just found out that the birds and bees had nothing to do with fauna or flora, and that storks play no part in anything except  to crap on lawns.

Somehow Fifty Shades has reduced  public librarians into the worst possible version of our species (Bibliopithicus Hominis Erectus). Libraries were pathetically slow on the uptake when the book started appearing in international news, like they were hoping this was just some bad sweaty dream, and then when Fifty Shades landed and borrowers curiousity were all aflame, a handful of libraries (5 and less) started actively promoting it and now finally after months of circulating, we have some libraries seemingly reluctant to still stock it or replace worn copies and (shock, horror, gasp) even talk about it. And not talk in any particular meaningful way a person who has never even heard of Bondage, Domination and Sado-machochism would probably would WANT to talk about.

No this was more of a none committal grunt response to a borrowers question of: “So dear librarian, have you read the book? What do you think?”

Hardly a salacious question for such a response, nor one that dwells outside the realm of professional conduct like, for examples: “What colour are your leather straps?” or “Are you a left handed whipper or a right handed?”

So can we say that librarians and sex is the vanilla experience of good customer interaction, its when you add the chocolate of bondage (tempered by our ties to our morales perhaps) that we falter in the vigorous practices of our good customer service.

Good thing this was only a once off occurrence, publisher surely couldn’t be publishing more of the same.


Oh crap.

There goes the Customer Service.
(Is that the gnashing teeth of hausfrau librarians and the tee-hee of wallflower librarians I hear?)

*The latest Pratchett kept dry from the rain, hence the overcoat.

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