Cover Image: I Was a Stripper Librarian

I Was a Stripper Librarian

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Member Reviews

I was so amazed with this book and I learned a lot.  Surprisingly, Librarians and Sex Workers have a lot in common.

1. It's not like what you see on TV.
Personally, my experience with strippers is limited to television. When I think of strippers, I think of women dancing on poles while men throw singles on the stage. The strip club scene Cooper describes, wasn't like that. Turns out, that was more back in the 80s and things have died down since then. With the rise of internet porn and sites like OnlyFans, people don't see a need to go out to strip clubs when they can just stay home. 

For librarians, they don't go around telling people to be quiet all day. Cooper even talks about a time when a library patron shushed her and another librarian.  Librarians are all about helping you get the information you need.  It's not just about books, but making all information accessible to everyone.

2. You need a license.
Early on in the book, Cooper gets a job as a library aide at the Suburban Public Library in Michigan.  However, before she could start, Cooper had to get her driver's license changed.  She needed to be a Michigan resident in order to work for the public library.

Strippers need a license too, of sorts.  There is something called a dancer-card where you have to register with the city and have your information in a database. Cooper describes it as a "creepy database" and I have to agree with her.  

3. Sex is everywhere.
Nudity at a strip club isn't a surprise, but apparently its more common at libraries than you would expect. A lot of libraries have porn policies, which makes sense because kids are around and not all the computers are set up in a private area. However, policies and public computers don't stop people from trying.  Cooper has an interesting story about her first porn patron encounter in her book that I thoroughly enjoyed.

4. Privacy is important.
Why not just block the porn sites? Cooper discussed this as well: "There [are] libraries that philosophically wouldn't block or stop patrons from looking at anything because they considered that a form of censorship." Libraries and librarians do their best to ensure YOUR privacy rights are being upheld. Amazing right? That wasn't something I knew! 

This is where sex workers and librarians really connect. Sex workers and librarians are advocating for our privacy in a growing data driven world. If you want to learn more about librarians and privacy, check out the Library Freedom Institute's website.

At the end of the day, I Was a Stripper Librarian blew my mind. I learned so much about two worlds that I considered polar opposites.  Cooper was so open and honest about her experiences, prejudices, and privilege. I don't believe that anyone else could connect these two worlds better than she did. This is going on the list of books I recommend to others and it will one day be a part of my personal home library.
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The premise behind the book is that the reader will learn about the life of a librarian who also works in strip clubs in America.  I expected some anecdotes, both humorous as well as serious.   In fact, it was pretty harsh reading.

The author worked as a stripper in order to pay her way through a high-flying university and then to pay off her student debt.  However, she is clearly torn between liking the work, and hating the work.  Liking the attention, the 'easy' money; hating her colleagues, the punters, the management, the process of hustling men to give them lap dances.

It is a sad story, and when she considers going further and becoming a full sex worker, one feels very sorry for her.  She cannot find full time work paying sufficient within the library service, so needs to supplement her income, which is also very sad as she was well qualified with experience.

The book isn't written very well, particularly in the early chapters.  We leap in with very little introduction and only begin to build a picture of the author (I assume as its non-fiction the author is 'Penelope') as we read on.  The style does not flow smoothly.  The book ends with diatribes about the poor conditions for both sex workers and librarians, and how the author is campaigning to improve both.  

Overall I felt quite sad, that a young woman should be reduced to such measures as the only means, in her view, to pay off the high tuition loans.  She was clearly badly advised, or not advised at all, when she chose that institution to complete her studies, and apparently received little pastoral support there (although her attitude may have played a part in that).  I was also sad that young (and older) women are reduced to stripping in order to make money, and that some of them progress to prostitution as a further means of making money to live.  The author was a little more unusual as she was an intelligent and well educated woman, whereas many of her co-workers were not.  It was surprising she managed to juggle her two lives so successfully, without much unfortunate crossover.

It is not a comfortable book to read, and I couldn't say I really enjoyed it because of the content, as it is much heavier than perhaps I was expecting.  It is a dangerous life, and I am not sure that really came over as the author had a rather blase attitude to the dangers of her profession.

An interesting read.  Thank you to NetGalley and Olivier for allowing me access to the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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First, I want to thank Kristy Cooper, Olivier, and NetGalley for providing me with this book so I may bring you this review.

WOW!! Kristy Cooper, you knew I just had to read your book!! It is not everyday a librarian writes a book entitled I Was a Stripper Librarian From Cardigans to G-Strings! So, the shock value of the title and the awesome cover design I just had to know what the book was about. Plus, I am a huge fan of my local library and the librarians there. However, I can’t picture them stripping.

This book is dedicated to all the sex workers who have come out before Kristy and have told their stories. And to all the sex workers who want to come out and tell their stories too.

I commend Kristy for her bravery in sharing her extremely personal story with us. In this story she shares an in-depth view of the stripper world but oh so much more. You will meet all sorts of characters and learn their stories. This made for a very interesting eye opening read that is for sure! 

On the same front Kristy shares her journey she takes to become a librarian. 

I laughed at the point where she was more nervous going to a stripper interview than a job interview for a librarian job. 

Kristy does a fantastic job educating her readers on a boat load of topics related to sex workers and the meaning behind it. She also gives you terrific websites, book suggestions, and social media handles if you choose you want to learn more on the subject. You can tell this is a passionate subject for her and she wants to help others get help. 

Kristy definitely learned a lot about herself while on this journey.
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