"Checking Out" is a rollicking and burlesque article at the Paris Review by Avi Steinberg on the history of librarians and porn. It was a French librarian who first coined the term "pornography" in the early 19th century. This article is too much fun to miss -- complete with coupling the stacks, steamy covers like the one above, shockingly obscene book titles (all which have the word Librarian in them) and reflections on why we seem to like the idea of eye-glassed wearing, hair in a bun librarians suddenly, with a few adjustments, turning into sex kittens. While funny, and very informative -- don't read the article if you are easily offended.
I found this article so amusing in part because of my own experience with library sex -- well not mine exactly -- but having the misfortune to stumble across it on occasion when I was a librarian for the Wisconsin Interlibrary Loan on the campus of the University of Wisconsin--Madison. Students rarely had the kind of privacy in grubby apartments filled with roommates that was afforded by the stacks of the Memorial Library in the center of campus (and coincidentally not from the bars!). And in those days a graduate study carrell -- deep in the stacks with a door that closed and locked was practically a hotel room. So the library became for many a garden of delights -- less for reading and more about doing the things you only read about.
In one famous case, a man was being sought in the stacks for about two weeks by campus police for the crime of "shrimping," which was knocking women to the ground, pulling off their shoes and socks, and sucking on their naked toes. Really. I had a girlfriend who carefully polished her toes in anticipation of meeting him. Really.
The librarian through this strange erotic and pornographic fiction becomes a peculiar iconic figure, a triad of feminine powers -- a mystical oracle (with her ready reference answers to life's questions), a Vestal Virgin (with her mask of glasses, severe clothing, and pinned hair), and Aphrodite (gathering men into the labyrinthine stacks, and educating them in the fine arts of love....or something close to that.)