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Pounding the Books on the Depraved World of Library Sex

Everything you never wanted to know about the kinksters devoted to doing it in the stacks — and the library porn videos that cause legal nightmares

I’m sitting on my couch in snowman pajama pants watching an anonymous scrotum slink through a public library. The scrotum is attached to a dude, and the dude is standing immediately in front of a book display featuring a dead-eyed author that looks a lot like Joel Osteen. This is one of Pornhub’s 1,523 so-called “library pornos,” and it culminates in about five minutes of eerily silent thrusting and one shockingly robust cum shot to a performer’s chin. But then, what is great literature if not one big, viscous cum shot to the brain?

I started rifling through library porn after hearing about the scandalous Santa Monica Library porn incident earlier this year. According to the L.A. CBS affiliate, a porn performer filmed a 10-minute video in the Santa Monica Library’s Ocean Park branch during its regular business hours, a video of which circulated the internet in December (but has since disappeared from most porn sites, presumably at the behest of shocked California taxpayers). 

While I had a tough time finding the original Santa Monica Library video, a cursory Pornhub search revealed a veritable buffet of library porn to lure me in instead. Turns out, this is a huge thing among both amateur porn performers and porn viewers, as evidenced by the more than more than 1 million views on Pornhub’s top result under the keyword “library.” With video titles like “Please Don’t Grab My Ass in the Library” and “My Little Bookworm,” there’s also a certain cheekiness that softens these videos. To me, they’re more palatable than the adjacent Sexy Librarian (361 videos) or Schoolgirl (16,277 videos) categories, but maybe that’s because of the popularity of the everyman’s public sex pursuit: Doin’ it in the stacks. 

Still, the Santa Monica incident — along with Pornhub’s extensive catalog of library porn videos —  begs a certain question: How popular is library sex, really? And more importantly, why

To answer that question, I checked in with my friend Martha, a 35-year-old pseudonymous library branch manager in the Midwest. In her experience, the sexually charged nature of the library is nothing new. “[We get] so many porn watchers,” she writes over Instagram DM. “Possibly more people watching porn than reading.” 

When you think about it, it makes sense that library professionals like Martha would bear witness to so much free-spirited wanking. After all, a library is a public service — a public service complete with free access to the filthiest recesses of the world wide web. And in cities like Chicago, watching porn in libraries is perfectly legal, although libraries can devise their own behavior policies. “Masturbation [is] more or less the norm,” Martha writes, explaining her branch’s surprisingly lenient porn-watching penalty. “When we catch someone watching porn, we gather up our dignity and approach them to say, ‘This is not appropriate to view in a public area,’ and often, ‘This is the third time we’ve discussed this with you, Mister So-And-So. Next time, you’ll be asked to sign off the computer for the day.’” 

And while Martha hasn’t necessarily caught library patrons in flagrante delicto, she’s definitely encountered the aftermath. “Used condoms, [sercurity] camera footage of two people going into the bathroom at once, etc.,” she tells me. “We used to joke about the number of babies conceived on our couches before we got rid of them.”

Listen — I get the appeal. Libraries contain books, and books are fundamentally sexy — a fact I became aware of around the age of 10, when I snagged a copy of Atonement off of my grandmother’s bookshelf, stumbled upon the famously steamy library sex scene and tried to figure out why it made me feel like a hard-boiled egg was about to fall out of my butt. 

Bella, a 22-year-old student in New York City who’s had sex in multiple libraries (and also a pseudonym), agrees. She explains that her library boning, which started around age 19, was initially out of pure necessity. “Pretty sure my partner at the time and I both had roommates, so we were really having sex wherever it ended up happening,” she writes over Twitter DM. “I think mentally, once you’re having sex in dorm showers at weird hours, it’s really a small step to having sex in college library bathrooms at weird hours.” But for Bella, what started as a desperate move to get her rocks off ended up being a more philosophical sexual experience. “There is something very hot and gross about sneaky sex. Also because libraries are such a solemn — almost repressed — space, there’s so much room for flirting and eye-fucking.”

So how are people going from eye-fucking to real, down-and-dirty fucking — without, I don’t know, getting slapped with some kind of sex offender status

My friend Sara, a 27-year-old journalist living in the Twin Cities (and yep, a pseudonym), explains that the deed is easier than you might think, especially when you’re a horned-up college student. “My college library had a lot of study rooms, including a big one with a desk tucked around a corner,” she writes over Twitter DM. “So even if someone was looking in through the [study room] window, they’d just see the wall straight ahead and not around the corner to the desk area.” 

That’s where she got busy with her college boyfriend — but, like me, Sara’s anxiety over getting caught ultimately took away from the fun. “It wasn’t great, especially because I was scared of getting caught the whole time,” she says. “I think start to finish, it was like six whole anxious minutes.” As such, she wouldn’t do it again. Now that she’s “rapidly approaching 30,” she feels, strongly, that “sex is for beds and sometimes a couch and that’s it.”

The minimally-surveilled nature of college libraries does seem to make them a prime target for illicit acts. Take, for example, the case of Kendra Sutherland, the 19-year-old Oregon State University student otherwise known as “Library Girl.” Sutherland rocketed to camgirl fame after filming herself completing what the Oregon State Police log refers to as a “solo act” in the OSU library — an act that came with a public indecency citation and a hefty fine, the latter of which was paid off by porn site BangYouLater.com. The same year, 22-year-old Alexa Morra was fined $250 for streaming dozens of live sex shows from two branches of the Windsor Public Library in Canada. Still, in both cases, authorities became aware of the videos long after both performers had done the deed and left the premises.

For people like Amy, a comedian and educator in northern California, the threat of getting caught is half the fun. She reflects on the time she hooked up with a former partner in the library of the middle school where they were employed. “I was dating a coworker, and we were working late and needed to use a printer in the library,” she writes over Instagram DM. “It was super hot because it was forbidden and also just fun.”

For NYC-based TV producer Benji (also not his real name), who came of age as a queer teen in the early 2000s, libraries have always represented a safe space for self-expression — carnal or not. We chatted over Instagram about the summer before he went to college, when he found himself as part of an underground contingent of queer teens who hung out at the local library. They eventually formed a Teen Advisory Board, and they worked with library staff to hold a variety of events — including a particularly memorable library sleepover that led to a hot encounter with another member of the club. “We both just went to the bathroom a few minutes apart and then snuck off into this little reading nook area in the main library space and went to town,” he writes. “I don’t think I’d do it again, but I do think it says something about queer youth’s ability to find safe spaces no matter what.”

Although I don’t personally relish the idea of a Dickensian dickening, the appeal of library sex is undeniable. Maybe it’s the inviting armchairs or the luxurious hush of the carpet between the stacks. Maybe it’s the nostalgic scent of dust and slightly burnt coffee grounds. Maybe it has something to do with the relative sanctuary created by the inevitable presence of near-dead plants, or the possibility of losing yourself in the fantasy of a good book (or a sweaty quickie). The fact is that it’s easy getting hard when you’ve got a library card — especially given the library’s core ethos as a haven for anyone who needs one. “We librarians are all about ‘access for all,’” Martha says. “Even pervs.”

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