The Liberation: New York Public Library’s Erotica Collection

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Unlike today, there was a time when sex wasn’t selling on every corner. It was much more low-key and thought of as something dangerous for public morale. However, the need for it was always there. People would find all sorts of ways to satisfy their primal urges, be it by watching porn or reading erotic novels.

And since we live in a more liberal world today, we finally have the chance to look up what was so taboo for public libraries to hide for so many years. The New York Public Library’s collection of erotica is free for everyone to enjoy. Here are some interesting details regarding their vast collection.

The Triple-Star Code

In some ways, libraries are the custodians of past times. They have all sorts of literature that you can use to understand what people’s lives were like back then. And since we’ve said that sex was taboo until recently, books, magazines, and other literary pieces had a peculiar tag on them. This sign would suggest inappropriate content that only a few could see and explore.

This symbol was the triple-star code. Librarians would handwrite three little stars on the covers of such titles. This way, they would know what to keep far from the eyes of the public. However, the world isn’t the same as it was back then. These titles are now free for everyone to look up. Of course, they’re only available in physical form, and you can’t look them up online.

Interestingly enough, some of these triple-star possessions weren’t only erotic novels and short stories. Namely, librarians would stamp the triple-star symbol on cheesy pulp titles, men’s magazines, and even decks of cards with naked women. Moreover, they even have business cards for phone sex and early transgender publications. All these things were somewhat too hot for your average Joe to explore.

Collecting the Good and the Bad

As time goes by, people begin to show interest in off-limit things. The same happened to these triple-star collections, and a team of librarians sought out these troublesome titles one by one. Of course, erotic literature wasn’t their only goal.

Jason Baumann, the collection’s curator, told New York Times that they were looking for all sorts of things to help explore the past with more clarity. Nevertheless, their discovery gives us a great insight into what people’s sex lives were in the past. No matter how you look at something from today’s perspective, it’s vital to keep it intact for scientific purposes.

If something wasn’t good doesn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t talk about it now. Moreover, it gives us a chance to understand how we as a society go through various changes. LGBT people are no longer criminals in the United States. But if we keep the memory of their struggle a secret, we would risk allowing the same prejudices to take over again.

Therefore, it’s all-important to understand the past. In case we don’t, we won’t know where we’ll be heading in the future. Also, seeing such rarities in erotic libraries these days is more than fun for all sorts of curious people. We might even get some new ideas on how to handle our sexualities with these naughty, triple-star collections.

France National Library’s “L’enfer”

The New Yorkers didn’t come up with this idea on their own. Their inspiration came from a similar action in France. Just like NY’s public library is full of all sorts of interesting pieces, the French National Library has a stunning collection of books, magazines, and various written paraphernalia. Therefore, they have an erotica library too.

And in true European fashion, their erotic collection is called Hell (L’enfer in French). This group of various literary works dates back to the 19th century. Still, we’d unquestionably like to check it out, seeing how kinky Europeans can be, aristocrats particularly.

Filling the Shelves

How did they fill their shelves with such taboo content? Well, that’s a fascinating story on its own. Namely, library workers would go out to the seediest parts of New York in the ’70s and visit pornography shops and grindhouse theaters. And since we all know how the Big Apple was a dangerous and unsettling place back then, it’s pretty cool to imagine a bunch of nerds running around, searching for pornography.

Back then, NYC wasn’t the safest of places to hang around. From drug dealers to various gangs, you could get in trouble pretty fast if you didn’t know your way around the city. Luckily, we don’t know of any case where a librarian ended up in peril while looking for titles to fill the city’s public library. Nevertheless, it would make for a cool movie, wouldn’t it?

There’s More to the Collection Than Sex

However, the triple-star collection wasn’t only about sex. There were all sorts of valuable books and pieces that the library couldn’t afford to lose. From black magic stuff that was popular during the ’60s and ’70s to the first edition of “Bambi.” Yup, the actual one about the baby deer.

Luckily, these pieces are now in the actual public domain as they should be. The whole point of keeping something away from people makes us crave for them even more. It’s the forbidden fruit kind of thing, you know. Either way, if you’re heading to New York, looking for some great erotic romance titles, we strongly suggest that you visit their public library and look up something from the triple-star collection.