Hoarding is not collection development
Taking Your Library Career to the Next Level
PLA Weeding Manual
Making a Collection Count

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The Book Blogger Awards 2017

Swinging for the 90s

Living More
The Polyfidelity Primer

As a librarian, I am certain there is a place for this material.  Open marriage, open relationships, polygamy or whatever people are calling it, is a legitimate collection need depending on your population.  Far be it from me to say what is right or wrong in terms of collection or lifestyle.  So, this might be something worth adding to the collection if you think it fits within your collection objectives.  Done and done.  However, I am a 51 year old married mother of two and I just have to crack up and make fun of books like this.  Mostly because it seems like a lot of work coordinating a bunch of people.  (Kind of like a reference desk schedule with people out sick or on vacation.) Personally, if there was an alternative lifestyle that I would embrace, it would be where people left me alone and I could choose my own television programs and actually hold the clicker. (This is where I yell FREEDOM!)  Right now I am a slave to lifestyle that include 2 cats, an overworked, underpaid husband, an underfunded, understaffed library and 2 college-age “leeches” (as my husband lovingly calls our children). I haven’t got time to take on a “sleep schedule” or invite other people to our marriage “party”.  Besides, they would just find it dull.  A big night for us is re-runs of Firefly or Star Trek while vacuuming up a ton of cat hair off the furniture. Ah, but I digress from our theoretical discussion of awful library books.

I have included a few pages of text for your enjoyment/perusal.  I am sure there are those out there in library land that know more about this subject and can comment on texts that one might find useful in a library collection. No,  those are not my answers written in the text. It was already in my copy.  I am always annoyed when people write in books and I am against workbook or quiz-style books because of it.  (Yeah, I hardly think that is a new complaint among librarians!)


We have done a few of these books before, so enjoy some other marriage posts.

Open Marriage?  All the cool kids are doing it.

Marriage Minded Collection Development

Coo and Purr Your Way into a Man’s Heart

36 Responses to Swinging for the 90s

  • The cousin of my mailman? Am I the only one who’s just not on those kind of terms with my mail carrier?

  • Wow, way to be judge-y and sound like a “smug married”. ALB-fail!

  • I don’t think books should be weeded because you disagree with the topic because it doesn’t fit your particular lifestyle.

  • Have they been sued by Roaring Spring yet?

  • @fireweed–I agree, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of the community, then why keep it? I’ve never heard of anyone even considering an open relationship in my town, which is pretty old-fashioned and conservative, and I doubt this book would circulate at all there.

    Of course, we also have pretty religious librarians who would probably never have bought it in the first place, but that’s beside the point. (I’m amazed sometimes at the huge percentage of religious-oriented books.)

  • There is a book, Polyamory in the 21st Century, I saw listed in a publisher’s catalogs. I’m tempted to order it just to see if it would ever check out. But, the $35 list price is too high for a very marginal title to experiment with.

    “Experiment”. Heh, heh-heh. Heh-heh.

  • @fireweed – judging from the publication date and title for today’s post, I got the impression that weeding was being considered primarily because of age. A quick read over the “making contact” section saw no references to the internet or social networking, which has probably affected these sorts of relationships as much (if not more) than any other. And the post does begin with a disclaimer saying that this book would have a use somewhere. Chill.

  • The current term is “polyamory,” which includes relationships with multiple men, unlike “polygamy,” which limits configurations to one man with multiple women, and has a harem and Biblical men-control-women feel to it. Some polyamorous relationships are one man with two or more women, but aren’t all about male privilege and power, unlike classical or modern FLDS or Muslim polygamy.

    Frankly, MaryKelly48, your extended description of your home life in this post, making it about you and not about the book, shows a strong mono-normative alignment. (I just invented this term, which compares to hetero-normative. I don’t know your feelings on homosexual relationships, and do not wish to presume.) I get that you don’t understand or approve of these types of relationships. It’s important to remember, however, that what goes on in the bedroom between legally of age consenting adults is no one’s business besides their own.

  • Does anyone besides me find that when someone accuses a librarian of weeding an alternative lifestyle book of being judgmental to be hypocritical?

    There’s lots of reasons to weed a book that have nothing to do with the subject matter.

    1: (For non-fiction) Age – in this case there’s been a lot of changes to swinging/open marriages since the 90s.

    2: (For both) Condition. No one wants a book that’s moldy, falling apart, full of writing, etc.

    3: (Both) Circulation history. If a book hasn’t circulated in awhile it’s time to get rid of it. Heck, that applies to anything. We once had a video of a big time Christmas concert filled with classical music that circulated only one time – in 2003 when the librarian at the time (who was a former opera singer) added it, and she’s the one who checked it out. Gone.

    4: And of course the main users of the library. If 95% of your library users are of the type who’d protest against a certain type of book, better to not have it. The other 5% can put a book they want from another library on hold and have it delivered. So it’s not like you’re denying them the book completely. You’re just not having it out where everyone can see it and it could risk your funding.

  • Don’t they ever get a night off? I agree that fireweed should chill. Some people have to disagree with everything.

  • The 90’s are ripe… meanwhile, it’s 2011. This info is close to 20 years old. Time for an update, at least!

  • I think the book is old and outdated and should be replaced with better titles on ethical non-monogamy like “Opening Up”. What I was reponding to was not the author’s choice to weed, but the author’s attitude and way she makes fun of the concept of non-monogamy and people who would choose non-monogamy. It seemed like the post was just as much about her mocking the topic as it was that particular book. I have lots of friends who are married, have children, and have poly relationships. They would probably laugh at this particular book too, but they also have great relationships with all their partners too and make it all work. My point is that it is more sporting to make fun of a book’s execution of a subject, as opposed to making fun of a subject because you disagree with that subject.

  • Also, I forgot to add that swinging and polyamory are two different communities, and neither community likes to identify as the other. So the title of the article is inaccurate.

  • I agree with Jami. And would just like to remind people that when it’s your blog, you get to decide how the posts are written.

  • Wow! Diagrams and quizzes–don’t those make it sound so sexy?

  • I can’t say I’ve thought much about the type of lifestyle in this book, mainly because of my personality. I crave quiet and all those people would drive me nuts. But I can honestly say I’m glad I didn’t make Mary’s choice either. My parents did, and I’m glad they did, since they raised me, of course.

    But the way I see the “smug-married” lifestyle- It’s sane, it’s controlled, it’s a rut, it’s comfortable, it’s codependency and in the long run it’s a trap. Two people make something out of each other that they never were and they spend the next 30 or so years playing out those roles and trying to keep a household from falling apart by tending to a million minor emergencies. One day they look up and realize they don’t know who they are, they don’t really like each other that much, and the kids they worked so hard to raise are gone and don’t seem very grateful.

    If this is your choice, fine, but don’t kid yourself that it’s not a strange way to live.

  • I scored 18, which means “The Lifestyle” is not for me. Thank god for that!

  • I’m sure loads of divorce lawyers will be disappointed with you weeding that title! Is there any evidence of patron borrowing of ‘risque’ titles (call be a big L7 but I’d put ‘Loving More’ in that catagory) increasing when libraries install self issue facilities?

  • ‘Polyfidelity’ sounds like a particularly naff type of record-player from the ’70s, probably made by RCA. Anyway, I took the quiz and apparently I’m already “part way” towards this “exciting new lifestyle”, which is a pity because I have zero interest in having a diagram of my relationships that looks like a map of the London Underground…

  • Hey y’all,

    If the book is dated and the content isn’t representative of what it claims to be about, weed it. However, it’s important for libraries to have books about different alternative romantic possibilities. Part of the point of a library is to be able to stumble upon something you didn’t think there would be a book about. Also, maybe someone is looking for a book about this but is too scared to ask because of social pressures towards “normative” relationships.

    Libraries need to cater to invisible minorities. They should be a safe haven, free from shame. A good replacement for a practical book about polyamory is The Ethical Slut by Easton and Hardy, 2009. A very popular book with a broader history of sex that shows more than our “normative” narrative is Sex at Dawn by Ryan and Jetha. Of course the library should get the hardcover, but it’s so popular that a paperback is forthcoming this year.

    Ben Miller

  • “Intimate Network” hahaha. I get all the satisfaction I need from Facebook.
    And some of us need to lighten up. Our blogger actually defends this subject in a library collection – for the right library, and laugh at herself at the same time. Good job.

  • Mary, do you remember how many times and the last time this one circulated? Mentioning that will show that this book wasn’t doing anything more than taking up shelf space.

  • I’m only on board if I can be the upper left corner dot in a closed group marriage.

  • “Polyfidelity! How can you call it that? That’s like Lake Erie!” -my mom

  • AA–
    Wow. As someone who if fortunate enough to be married to her best friend, just marked her 26th anniversary, and doesn’t have kids, I have to say the way you have rather narrowly defined the “smug-married” lifestyle. I don’t claim it’s idyllic, and I obviously can’t compare it, long-term, to any other type of lifestyle, but I’m certainly glad we decided to spend our lives together. And people can be happy without being offensively so.

  • I think this book looks like it’s comitting the cardinal sin of any book; being boring; which given the topic seems difficult.

  • “4: And of course the main users of the library. If 95% of your library users are of the type who’d protest against a certain type of book, better to not have it. The other 5% can put a book they want from another library on hold and have it delivered. So it’s not like you’re denying them the book completely. You’re just not having it out where everyone can see it and it could risk your funding.”

    Aha, this explains why there are exactly zero books on evolution at one of our branch libraries in the children’s section and yet literally two bookcases full of books on Jesus and the Bible. We did not special order one… we’re just going without until we get to the other branch, which has 6 books on evolution, all ordered between 1988 and 1996. I’m guessing that librarian has moved on. It sure sucks for us 5%ers.

  • I got no problem with the lifestyle, but sheesh, who has the time or energy for swinging any more? If you do, and everyone is consensual, then go nuts.

  • The topic of alternative forms of marriage reminds me of the different kinds of marriages in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. A couple of them were line marriages and troikas ( 2 women, 1 man). Yeah, I’m a nerd.

  • i agree w/ fireweed – ‘opening up’ is a great book for anyone who’s interested (in participating in, or just reading about) poly* relationships.

    i’ve heard use of the term polyfidelity fairly recently though, as a subset of polyamory. polyfidelitous relationships are between 3 or more people who don’t stray from that group (like the little polycule shows from the book). there are as many ways to be poly* as there are to do just about anything else, so having a book focused primarily on polyfidelity might be more limiting to your readership than a book with a broader subject matter (like ‘opening up’, or ‘the ethical slut’, etc).

  • This book is out of date and should be replaced with some newer material. I just want to reply to the person who thinks she lives in a conservative community and that therefore nobody would be interested in open relationships or polyamory. It’s attitudes like hers that cause those of us who ARE interested in living such a lifestyle VERY hesitant to discuss it openly with our friends and acquaintances. Please know that there are people all over the world quietly living a polyamorous lifestyle; we just don’t publicize it to the world because we don’t want to be mocked or judged. We are library patrons, too, and we would appreciate there being some material available to us on the subject through our local public libraries.

  • @Cassandra: I was going to make the same point, but I’m glad to see that someone else already has!

    Also, while I somewhat understand it from a practical standpoint, I hate the idea that narrow-minded patrons, whether they are in the majority or not, should dictate what goes on the shelves. “It’s not like you’re denying them the book completely.” — Technically, no, but in many cases you may as well be. Here’s an example: a teenager living in a very conservative community thinks that she might be a lesbian and is looking for information beyond the overwhelming amount of explicit material that comes up in Google searches on the topic. So she goes to her local library. If the book is on the shelf, she doesn’t even have to check it out–she can read it right there. But if the librarian has decided that books on homosexuality are “too controversial”, she has to work up the courage to arrange to receive the book from another branch, which would mean that at least a couple of other people would be aware of what she was reading. That would be too much exposure for most kids in this situation, so she’s out of luck. The fact that the library doesn’t have any books about homosexuality may also contribute to the feeling that there’s something wrong with her that she has to hide.

    I found myself in a very similar situation as a teenager, and my work with the GLBTQ community since then has shown me that I am far from alone. And of course there are many other scenarios in which this “solution” becomes problematic; this is the tip of the iceberg.

    “You’re just not having it out where everyone can see it and it could risk your funding.” — Libraries are supposed to be places for people to learn and educate themselves, to find information and broaden their minds. Keeping “controversial” materials off the shelves has the opposite effect.

    I have been a librarian at a university library and a small public library, so I don’t think that I’m being blindly idealistic here.

  • Any book on polyamory that doesn’t mention Google Calendar needs weeding.

  • “So she goes to her local library. If the book is on the shelf, she doesn’t even have to check it out–she can read it right there”

    Heh. And in a small town public library, THAT’S not going to get noticed.

    Well, this is why I try to beat “library websites” and “library databases” into the heads of every teenager I can get to. And not because I’m a fiend for reputable sources, either. Or not **only***.

    Because the computers all come with privacy screens, and we don’t keep records of the sessions. Come to think of it, this is the 21st century, so the computer catalog (search privately for one’s topic) + any kind of decent holds alias (update online patron record privately, ditto) + self-checkout = nobody needs to know what you’re reading, unless you choose to share.

    Works for me.

  • While the books seems pretty outdated and in need of weeding, man, you’re pretty needlessly rude to polyamorous people in your writeup. Plenty of poly people are boring marrieds with kids too, anyway. And yes, we do exist in small towns.

  • @Kirsten: It’s nice that it works that way at your library, but not every library has that much privacy protection built into the system. In many places it is not possible to avoid having the clerk, at the very least, see who you are and what you are reading when you check out a book.

    >Heh. And in a small town public library, THAT’S not going to get noticed.

    Maybe. Maybe not. By “read it right there”, I did not mean “stand by the shelf and flip through it” or “sit at a table and read it”. In my particular case, I slipped the book into my bag and took it into the bathroom to avoid being seen with it. In any event, I don’t think that any of this refutes my point. I could just as easily have talked about a student trying to research evolution and finding nothing but creation science texts in the library, a woman looking for information on divorce law in a conservative community, or any number of other issues. The details of the scenario don’t matter. The point is, our job as librarians is not to give in to cries for censorship of the shelves and then try to excuse that behavior.