and anal character
that whenever you walk into a library or bookstore, you suddenly
have the urge to shit? I always thought it was just me, but then
I read an interview in the zine Office Supply Junkie with a woman
who collects office supplies, and she brought it up.
Jeaneen: Buying a lot of office supplies kind of ties
in with like, if you go to the library or sometimes a bookstore
and you have to go to the bathroom. Tim and I have always talked
about it, some of our friends have mentioned it too. Whenever
they go into a place where things are organized and collected,
especially a library, they have to go bad.
OSJ: Often the same thing happens when I go to a thrift
shop. And it's not a feeling like "I have to find a bathroom
soon." It comes on real fast.
Jeaneen: Oh, yeah! Yeah!
OSJ: I used to think it had something to do with the fluorescent
lights, that the electromagnetic field was affecting my bowels.
But it may be tied to this urge for buying filing supplies, or
books, and being in this environment of organization, of anality.
That sent me to the library to search through the works of Sigmund
Freud. After a quick bathroom break, I found this passage in
Civilization and Its Discontents:
"The most remarkable of these character traits in an individual
is found in the anal eroticism of young human beings. Their original
interest in the excretory function, its organs and products,
is changed in the course of their growth into a group of traits
which are familiar to us as parsimony, a sense of order and cleanliness
qualities which, though valuable and welcome in themselves,
may be intensified till they become markedly dominant and produce
what is called an anal character."
Intrigued, I asked some librarian friends about their bowel movements.
"Libraries and bathrooms have always been a fascination
of mine," admitted Billie Aul of the New York State Library.
"My study of this problem has led me to think that it hasn't
got anything to do with how anal libraries are. Rather it has
to do with standing up for a long time looking at things that
are just above your eye level. It probably only works with people
who like books, as I think relaxation has something to do with
"This phenomenon has
important implications for bookstores," she added. "Borders
opened one of their stores here. I've tried to support smaller
local bookstores, but I always find myself at Borders. Why? I
think it's the bathroom. If the other stores would open their
bathrooms to the public, I'm sure much of their business would
Next in line was Jan DeSirey
of the Hennepin County Library near Minneapolis. "For me
it has to do more with guilt or anxiety," she says. "I
get anxious in bookstores. And the library I use most frequently
is the one upstairs from Technical Services, where I work. I
always feel rushed and guilty up there, no matter what I'm doing.
Would therapy help? Deep breathing?"
Jan pointed me to an article
from the September 1994 issue of Esquire in which Jerry Seinfeld
reveals that he too has to poo whenever he's faced with shelves
of books. The writer of the article describes going into a bookstore
in Los Angeles with Seinfeld, "despite Jerry's lifelong
knowledge that bookstores affect his intestines as would any
laxative. 'I think it's the quiet. It creates some sort of rectal
anxiety, if you'll pardon the expression.' "
Finally, I contacted Nancy
Bonnell-Kangas of the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio and
creator of Nancy's Magazine. She suggested I start a zine,
"Public Pooping: Libraries, Bookstores, Bodily Functions,
Different Peoples' Experiences, and Possible Explanations."
Don't tempt me.
I enjoyed having some sort of explanation as to why I spend so
much time in the bathroom whenever I visit my parents.
Schiff, Los Angeles:
recently entered a Barnes & Noble with our mutual friend
Ted. I immediately felt a bit off, and we ran much of the way
back to his apartment to keep me out of doody-pants. I blame
this sudden urge on the bookstore, not Ted. He usually makes
me want to vomit.
When you go to the library and need to rush to the toilet, it's
because of the smell. I have the same problem which made me look
into it further.
My sister and friend and I all have a funny problem: Libraries
and large book stores always make us have to poo! It's like magic,
I walk in and boom, where's the john? Is it a rare book allergy?
Can't explain it.
I read somewhere that it was tiny bookworms that live in books
cause the reaction to have to poop when you are in a library
or bookstore. I'm not pulling your leg!
I was about 10 years old I've wondered why libraries and large
book stores always made me have to poop. Oddly enough, smaller
bookstores don't do this to me. It has to be someplace like Borders
or B&N. Somebody should do scientific research on this.
conversely, when I go into the bathroom to poop, I want something
article first appeared in my fanzine, Chip's Closet Cleaner,
also: Librarian Porn, Bathroom
Poo Science (article),
The Gas We Pass
The Aesthetics of
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