Friday, January 25, 2013

For SEX, See the Librarian

If you haven't read Jeanette C. Smith's The Laughing Librarian: A History of American Library Humor (McFarland, 2012), you're missing out on a great book (see my review). One of the chapters in her book is titled "For SEX, See the Librarian". This phrase derives from the practice of some libraries, mostly in the past, of keeping books with a sexual theme in a location other than open stacks, a practice that would be frowned on by most librarians today. The catalog card for a book in this collection would sometimes be marked with the phrase "For SEX, See the Librarian". Smith notes that the phrase, of course, led to humorous interpretations and has been cited in a number of newspapers and periodicals as being seen in the card catalogs of libraries. She mentions that one library after being challenged about its use changed the heading to read "SEX: (for SEX, ask at desk)". The chapter in Smith's book includes numerous examples of library and librarian stereotypes being used in sex related humor in our popular culture. The postcard shown here is of British origin, and is from my collection, not Smith's book. It is a variation of the "sexy librarian" or "naughty librarian" anti-stereotype sometimes portrayed in the popular culture. I apologize for any offense the image may cause. To see another  postcard showing British library humor click HERE.


Michael Gorman said...

The British postcard is by the saucy postcard genius Donald McGill or a later disciple (probably the latter). See George Orwell's essay "The art of Donald McGill" (1941)

Larry T. Nix said...

Thanks Michael. Interestingly MaGill is currently in the news. See