Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Things I Never Learned In Library School: Let’s Talk About SEX, Baby….

I blame it on Parker Posey. I LOVE her as an actress and adore her films, but I swear I think everyone has secretly seen her in Party Girl and now thinks that the library is THE ultimate place to have sex. There is no other explanation. 

In Party Girl, Mary (played by Parker Posey), gets arrested and has to call her godmother (a librarian) for bail money. The Godmother makes it a condition that Mary work in the library as a clerk to pay off the loan (and in the end, Mary decided that she wants to join the most awesome of professions, and become a librarian). In the middle of all this, Mary falls in love with Mustafa (played by Omar Townsend) and at one point they have wild sex in the Romance section of the library.

Why else would people think that libraries are the perfect place to get their freak on…?

WHO: college students
WHERE: comfy fabric covered chair facing a picturesque view outside, but still on the public floor in plain view of all
WHAT: girl sitting on guy’s lap, skirt up, no underwear; guy with pants down, underwear down
ACTION: after they got dressed, taken to conference room separately for determination of ages to figure out if other laws were broken (statutory rape, etc), then sworn out criminal trespassing warnings

WHO: adults
WHERE: in a parked car in the staff parking area, with the seats laid back but in plain view of the security cameras
WHAT: definitely intimate relations going on right before the library was to open, which causes an issue because the public book drop was right by the staff parking lot
ACTION: called police to ask them kindly to move their action away from the library and neighboring community center

WHO: adults
WHERE: stall of women’s public restroom
WHAT: pretty sure intimate relations because the toilet came off the wall and crashed, the gentleman ran out of the room to wait for his companion and the lady waited a good while to compose herself in the second stall
DISCOVERED BY: other staff members
ACTION: building services called to address property damage, nothing said to patrons

WHO: adult
WHERE: public computer terminal
WHAT: patron was looking at personal ads that would not violate terms of computer internet usage while self gratifying underneath the table
DISCOVERED BY: other staff members
ACTION: session terminated, called into manager’s office, criminal trespass issued

I hear that a lot- we’re in a public place- WHAT CAN WE DO?
First, know the laws of your state: what is considered public indecency, what is considered porn, whether you’re considered a mandatory reporter, what is considered statutory rape, etc. 
Second, know your library’s policies: what are the steps for dealing with someone looking at porn, for having sex in the corner, for kissing or having a higher level of PDA? Does your system issue criminal trespasses for those who violate library procedures on this level?
Third, know what your management will back you up on. It may seem like splitting hairs between knowing the policy and what your management will tolerate, but in some systems there can be a vast difference. Some managers (and they are the bad ones) will not want to be bothered with the “headache” or the “issue.”
Fourth, know what you’re comfortable handling and know what your boundaries are. If you’re not comfortable addressing someone doing things, KNOW THAT and then figure out a plan for when that might occur.  Remember, it’s not only you but also your staff and coworkers who are ensuring that the library is a safe place. That means making sure that there is someone walking the floors- not just making sure that everyone is finding what they need, but also scouting those weird corners that you can’t see but everyone knows about. It means making sure to get training for everyone on how to increase awareness of what goes on around them- not just zoning in on the reference or information desk. It means making sure that your staff talks- with the shift towards more part-time staff, not everyone may know that a certain patron was removed on Monday, and when they try to come back on Thursday, they may not know to call the police and enforce the criminal trespass order.
So what did we do?
For the college kids, it was just a matter of approaching them, then getting them separated, then calling the cops, because they violated the decency laws. For the adults in the car, we didn’t know what was in the car with them, so the best option was calling the police. For the bathroom, no one caught them doing anything- all we heard was the toilet crashing down. For the self-gratifier, someone came to us reporting it, so we had a “computer glitch” that killed the sessions, and as we brought the system back up, a male staff member took him into the manager’s office to await the police we had already called.

Have you had people getting too sexy for the library? Share your experience in the comments….


  1. Dear mother who screamed at us that her middle school daughter should be allowed to use the phone at the reference desk to call home at any time and for any reason “because there are weird and scary people in the library” I suggest you repeat The Talk with your daughter, b/c she has been exploring her growing body. With friend. In the study rooms. And the teen room.

  2. When we were doing some remodeling at a previous library, I suggested they put clear doors on all the study rooms so they didn't become the sex rooms. Some of the staff were like, that's ridiculous . . . but we know.

  3. I would think that would be standard operating procedure. My public library has a wall of glass windows between the 'quiet study' rooms and the rest of the facility.

  4. Just this evening, a co-worker discovered a pair of teens making out in the second floor lobby just outside of our System's administrative offices. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Yeah, floor to ceiling windows and 50+ teachers, librarians, and daycare providers has never deterred MY teens from pursuing their libido's urges.

  6. Our study rooms do have windows, but none of them are covered by security cameras. The kids (and they really are just kids) haven't done more than just cuddling and a little roughhousing, that I've seen, so I've only given them reminders that we don't cuddle in the library, I don't feel I can kick them out. It's actually kind of funny – they're both very innocent (and socially awkward) for their age and neither of them is quite sure how this boy-girl thing works…

  7. And sometimes the library isn't designed by people who think of things like that. I know locations that weren't designed by anyone who was ever near a library, so when the librarians came in, everyone was WTH? How are we going to make this work? But the city was proud of it as a model of architecture and planning…

Speak Your Mind