View Full Version : Bathroom Urge at the Library

06-25-2001, 06:11 PM
OK this is a weird one.

For the last few years whenever I go to a library I develop the urge to go to the bathroom. I haven taken data or anything but such factors as time of day or week and library location vary without changing the result. I can never recall "having to go" when I arrive but the urge does soon develop.

What would cause this? Is it possible to develop this kind of habit (i.e. I'm so used to this happening that once I arrive I get the urge)?

I suppose that a good thing would be that I have a ready-made cure for constipation.

06-25-2001, 06:24 PM
Okay, I admit it, I have experienced the same thing, at not only the library but also Barnes & Noble. I think it may be a phenomenon limited to 'book people' and a result of the extreme relaxation/ stressfreeness (like that word?) that being surrounded by books causes.

06-25-2001, 06:31 PM
Yup. I get this one too. Even thought about starting a thread about the phenomenon.

I walk into a bookstore, record store, library, etc., and I'd better be darned sure I went before I left the house. I know where all the bathrooms of the better retail establishments here in town are.

If someone can explain this, I'll be eternally grateful.

06-25-2001, 06:38 PM
This has been discussed before but I don't recall any conclusions being arrived at other than the obvious one that a lot of people are troubled by this.

Someone suggested that it's related to reading while using the bathroom but that doesn't make too much sense to me. For one thing I never read while I'm standing in the bathroom, if you know what I mean, and yet the bookstore urge for me is always my bladder.

I'm wondering if it's the simultaneous contradictory combination of relaxation and concentration that brings it on. I'm usually just idling along through the shelves, but my mind is actively reviewing and analyzing. Maybe there's just too much stuff going on to pay any attention to resisting bodily functions.

I'd write more but I gotta go right now. I have to see a man about a dog.

06-25-2001, 06:57 PM
I used to get this too, and never had the faintest idea why.

Doesn't happen any more though, I guess it "passed".

06-25-2001, 06:59 PM
Ever since I was a child I've found that browinsg a library or bookstore induces the urge to move my bowels. I wondered about it for a long time, and everyone I questioned about it looked at me like I was a freak.

So I stopped asking.

I eventually just chalked it up to some psychological effect, until I was dating a girl and we were in Tower Books and we both got hit by the urge. (Well, and another urge, too, but that's a different thread). We were both thrilled to discover that we had the same reactions. We each thought we were the only ones in the world.

We were both book lovers, but we read in bed or in comfy chairs, not on the toilet. She said that she thought it was the formaldehyde they used in paper.

But she was no chemist or biologist. She was a dancer. Well, she was a waitress, actually... trying to become a dancer. Which she did, eventually. (And then promptly dumped me for a sexy male dancer - hell, I thought they were all gay. I woulda done him, in fact! But that's a a different thread.)

We never did really figure out what the cause for the bookstore bathroom effect was, though.

06-25-2001, 07:04 PM
A prior thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=33906

This has happened to me in the past, but it was only in my college library (which always did smell a bit musty). I'm on the side of the theory that it's something about the books themselves, maybe yellowing paper or paper dust. Some people are more sensitive, so it happens to them in bookstores as well.

Anyone wanna ask Cecil about it?

06-25-2001, 07:47 PM
I work in a library and I seem to go to the bathroom about as often as anyone else. Perhaps I have become acclimated to the place.

Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
06-25-2001, 07:56 PM
All my tension goes away when I enter a library or bookstore.

At Bookstar, a 1940's era theatre converted into a huge bookstore here in Nashville, the sales people are always in & out of the Men's Room, usually carrying toilet paper rolls or towels.

06-26-2001, 10:05 AM
Originally posted by zgystardst
A prior thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=33906Thanks! I did a search before posting but didn't hit on this one.

It is nice to have a bit of a "support group" as it were

06-26-2001, 12:45 PM
I have a two part theory that relates in part to having been pregnant and then to toilet training my daughter. Simply put: You want to go to the bathroom in bookstores and libraries because bookstores and libraries have bathrooms.

I haven't really noticed the phenom in bookstores, but I always get it in big warehouse stores like Costco.

The reason I mention the pregnancy and toilet training thing is that both of these conditions train you to memorize where the nearest restroom is relative to your accustomed shopping destinations.

If you get the urge in, say, a grocery store, you are just going to have to wait. But in a bookstore, you know you can take care of it.

Another factor might be that in bookstores (and probably in warehouse stores, too) we tend to slow down and browse more.

06-26-2001, 01:18 PM
Originally posted by cher3

Another factor might be that in bookstores (and probably in warehouse stores, too) we tend to slow down and browse more.

I think Cher3 might be onto something here. When I'm in a bookstore, I suspect its probably due to the fact that I'm there for a long time-I can scarcely conceive of a quick run to a bookstore. When I'm in the university library and I'm stuck trudging up and down the stairs, hunting for articles, and eventually carrying around the equivalent of a whole dead tree in copies, I suspect I start wanting to use the bathroom/eat/drink, etc as a way to break up the monotony.

06-26-2001, 01:22 PM
I, too, want to poo in libraries and bookstores.

If this isn't a question for the Master or one of his cronies, I don't know what it. We have a confirmed phenomenon with no obvious explaination and the Teeming Millions are crying out for knowledge. Time to engage the Straight Dope research machine and get to the bottom of this.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.