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The Readers' Advisory Guide to Street Literature

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Street lit, also known as urban fiction, addresses with unflinching grit the concerns and problems of city living. Controversial in some quarters, it is also wildly popular, and this readers' advisory by street lit expert Morris * Sketches out the rich history of the genre, shwoing why it appeals so strongly to readers and providing a quick way for street lit novices to ge Street lit, also known as urban fiction, addresses with unflinching grit the concerns and problems of city living. Controversial in some quarters, it is also wildly popular, and this readers' advisory by street lit expert Morris * Sketches out the rich history of the genre, shwoing why it appeals so strongly to readers and providing a quick way for street lit novices to get up to speed * Covers a variety of subgenres in terms of scope, popularity, style, major authors and works, and suggestions for readers' advisory * Serves as a tool to improve library customer service by strengthening the relationship between library staff and patrons who may be new to using public librarise Emphasing an appreciation for street lit as a way to promote reading and library use, Morris' book helps library staff establish their "street cred" by giving them the information they need to provide knowledgeable guidance.


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Street lit, also known as urban fiction, addresses with unflinching grit the concerns and problems of city living. Controversial in some quarters, it is also wildly popular, and this readers' advisory by street lit expert Morris * Sketches out the rich history of the genre, shwoing why it appeals so strongly to readers and providing a quick way for street lit novices to ge Street lit, also known as urban fiction, addresses with unflinching grit the concerns and problems of city living. Controversial in some quarters, it is also wildly popular, and this readers' advisory by street lit expert Morris * Sketches out the rich history of the genre, shwoing why it appeals so strongly to readers and providing a quick way for street lit novices to get up to speed * Covers a variety of subgenres in terms of scope, popularity, style, major authors and works, and suggestions for readers' advisory * Serves as a tool to improve library customer service by strengthening the relationship between library staff and patrons who may be new to using public librarise Emphasing an appreciation for street lit as a way to promote reading and library use, Morris' book helps library staff establish their "street cred" by giving them the information they need to provide knowledgeable guidance.

49 review for The Readers' Advisory Guide to Street Literature

  1. 5 out of 5

    Leigh Anne

    This professional development resource is a must for library workers in medium to large urban service centers, and really should be read by everybody with an MLIS, if only to puncture their assumptions about urban fiction...which, as Morris tells us right up front, is actually a subgenre within the larger tradition of street literature. Morris traces that tradition through what some may find its surprising origins. She introduces us to key authors and texts in the contemporary tradition, and talk This professional development resource is a must for library workers in medium to large urban service centers, and really should be read by everybody with an MLIS, if only to puncture their assumptions about urban fiction...which, as Morris tells us right up front, is actually a subgenre within the larger tradition of street literature. Morris traces that tradition through what some may find its surprising origins. She introduces us to key authors and texts in the contemporary tradition, and talks about how she herself came to be aware of these books (through her patrons, actually, which is both meaningful and important). She talks about themes and subgenres that pervade the literature, books that are appropriate for teens, how to do good collection development, management, and marketing, and offers up a resource list that's both comprehensive and striking. Morris also includes a record of her e-mail conversation with YA author Zetta Elliott about street lit, in which they disagree on many points, but manage to find common ground, if not consensus, through the process of open communication. It's a perfect model for how anybody should initiate dialogue with reluctant colleagues -- or bosses -- who don't understand why "those books" need to be in your collection. I cannot stress enough that you need to have this book in your professional arsenal if you work in a major metropolitan area, or the suburbs of one. Street lit is not going away just because some people don't like it; in fact, the demand is higher than ever in many places. Learn what these books are about, why patrons love them (not necessarily the reasons you might think), and how you can make the library a friendly, welcoming place for patrons who have these interests. Community engagement, and patrons' personal trust in you as a professional, can only get stronger.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Misha

    Teri Woods, Foreward: "This new-wave genre of street lit will always remind the human race of a people who were supposed to be forgotten, swept under a rug, put in a box--better yet a cell--never to have a voice, never to cry out, and never able to speak out against the injustice we live in, see, experience in our everyday life because of our demographics." (xi) "It is apparent that the voices of those who live challenging lives in low-income city enclaves use literature as a vehicle to be heard." Teri Woods, Foreward: "This new-wave genre of street lit will always remind the human race of a people who were supposed to be forgotten, swept under a rug, put in a box--better yet a cell--never to have a voice, never to cry out, and never able to speak out against the injustice we live in, see, experience in our everyday life because of our demographics." (xi) "It is apparent that the voices of those who live challenging lives in low-income city enclaves use literature as a vehicle to be heard." (14) "The historicity of street literature isn't chronicling cultural norms or stereotypes about certain ethnic groups inasmuch as chronicling the challenging socioeconomic realities of diverse people, whomever they may be, who are living in low-income city communities at various periods in time. Thus, the current renaissance of the street-literature genre is documenting the historicity of inner-city living in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, when the residents happen to be diasporic African American, Latino, and even Asian and white people (see Souljah's Midnight: A Love Story). Such diverse experiences have been documented musically in hip-hop and its various iterations, cinematically in various films from the 1990s and early 2000s, and literally since the mid- to late 1990s in street lit." (16) "History tells us that just as the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century slum novels now hold their respectable place on library shelves as renderings of historical fiction, such will be the case for the current iterations of street literature as well....It is clear that readers have the final say on what stays on the shelf and what does not. As librarians and educators, it is up to us to respect and honor readers' reading choices." (17) "As librarians, we must always be cognizant of who we are when we do what we do and with whom we do it with." (71) Inner-city librarians see some of the same stories that unfold in street lit in their libraries--the traumas and the successes--and are a part of the stories of the lives of their patrons/readers. "Thus, it behooves us as librarians to be literate about our patrons' literature, because invariably we are also characters in the very stories they read and in the very stories they live." (72) "Librarians must also remember that cultural literary traditions are diasporic in scope. Thus, African American literature is not just stories about the streets or Black people in America, but the genre also can encompass Caribbean, African, and Black European and Canadian stories. The same is true of Latino literature, chick lit, and GLBTQ literature. For street lit encompasses myriad genre spaces--African American and Latino American experiences, gendered stories, and urban fictional narratives that are historical and contemporary, local and global. When we as librarians are open-minded lifelong readers and learners via reflexivity and inquiry into our own professional practices and reading repertoires, we are that much more fortified to engage patrons in full readers' advisory interviews. It's not only a matter of the librarian knowing many genres for the sake of being able to tell the patron, 'We have this and we have that,' but such a repertoire is vital so that the librarian can parse out from the patron the depths of the patron's literary repertoire, to open up space to considering a fuller range of literary compatibilities and possibilities in what the patron wants to read." (78) "...what I've stated is how librarians are to respond to community tastes for literature, that the issue with Street Lit, and anything else that librarians (and teachers) deem 'not worthy' HAS been censored...librarians can be the most egregious of censors sometimes--this is an ongoing topic in library science graduate school classrooms." (105)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    A little history, some personal experience, plenty of scholarly and clear explanation and definition, loads of practical information, and readers and authors quoted in their own voice. Reader, Librarian, Teacher, Author: if you have any interest for this genre at all, this book will satisfy, educate, maybe even change your mind. Soon to be the standard. The streets are calling, Morris' work will help you respond. A little history, some personal experience, plenty of scholarly and clear explanation and definition, loads of practical information, and readers and authors quoted in their own voice. Reader, Librarian, Teacher, Author: if you have any interest for this genre at all, this book will satisfy, educate, maybe even change your mind. Soon to be the standard. The streets are calling, Morris' work will help you respond.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Good introductory text to discover the classics, authors, and publishers of this genre class. Chapters 1-5 have good reference lists, while the Epilogue offers existential dialectic about literary authenticity. However, the text can only supplement a librarian's knowledge of the collections they maintain. Good introductory text to discover the classics, authors, and publishers of this genre class. Chapters 1-5 have good reference lists, while the Epilogue offers existential dialectic about literary authenticity. However, the text can only supplement a librarian's knowledge of the collections they maintain.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Msbossy

    Used it for a PP presentation on Urban Fiction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    I finally finished it! This is not a really long read but it's chocked full of resources and perspectives that I wanted to sit with it a while. I enjoyed Morris' perspective on ways to engage with street lit and how she's situated the genre as one focused on the street. She's explained the category as one not defined by race/ethnicity/culture even though people try to define it that way. I appreciate the respect that she gives the genre without falling into the pit trap of justifying the validit I finally finished it! This is not a really long read but it's chocked full of resources and perspectives that I wanted to sit with it a while. I enjoyed Morris' perspective on ways to engage with street lit and how she's situated the genre as one focused on the street. She's explained the category as one not defined by race/ethnicity/culture even though people try to define it that way. I appreciate the respect that she gives the genre without falling into the pit trap of justifying the validity of the genre against "literary" fiction. I absolutely love when novels are explained as good literature because people connect with these stories. Notice I didn't say good "literary" fiction. I personally have issue with the term "literary fiction." I confess my favorite part of the text is the email discussion between the author and the writer Zetta Elliot. Talk about fascinating! I often have this discussion with other's about what I perceive as the elitism of "literary" fiction. What makes a novel "literary"? I've been told that "literary" novels are well written, uses all the literary devices that we all learned about in literature classes and has mass appeal to audiences. Well is that's true then what makes "literary" fiction different from romance, mystery, science fiction or street lit? I think that this is a major part of the debate between Zetta and Vanessa. I have been making a similar argument since forever it feels like but definitely since I became a library worker. The moment you tell someone you read romance or street lit there is an automatic judgment made about the reader. I don't have to list them here because those biases are embedded in our cultural ethos that you know without me stating.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    The author clearly knows the subject and presents it in a thoughtful and understanding manner. I particularly enjoyed the recommendations that street lit is appropriately placed on displays during the summer or Christmas seasons (and that it is inappropriate to push street lit as part of Black History Month). Additionally, I appreciated the emphasis on the role of the librarian in Chapter 8 about knowing the whole collection within the library and concept that librarians should have a holistic u The author clearly knows the subject and presents it in a thoughtful and understanding manner. I particularly enjoyed the recommendations that street lit is appropriately placed on displays during the summer or Christmas seasons (and that it is inappropriate to push street lit as part of Black History Month). Additionally, I appreciated the emphasis on the role of the librarian in Chapter 8 about knowing the whole collection within the library and concept that librarians should have a holistic understanding of their collections (with emphasis placed on the sub genres and literary traditions).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lara

    Although much of this book was geared toward public librarians, I highly appreciated the chapter and bibliography for school librarians. We do have different criteria and concerns, and Morris is cognizant of that. I have purchased a number of the books on her list for high school and can't wait to order the rest. I'll be doing a presentation to fellow school librarians on street lit this fall, so this book and its background information on the genre will be very helpful. Although much of this book was geared toward public librarians, I highly appreciated the chapter and bibliography for school librarians. We do have different criteria and concerns, and Morris is cognizant of that. I have purchased a number of the books on her list for high school and can't wait to order the rest. I'll be doing a presentation to fellow school librarians on street lit this fall, so this book and its background information on the genre will be very helpful.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C.E. G

    Read this for the seminar I'm preparing on street lit for teens. It was surprisingly engaging and insightful for a reference book (though I knew to expect something good after reading the author's blog and other journal articles). Read this for the seminar I'm preparing on street lit for teens. It was surprisingly engaging and insightful for a reference book (though I knew to expect something good after reading the author's blog and other journal articles).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    My professor wrote this, so it will be good.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Veronica Britto

    Great resource for thoses trying to get a handle on the genre. Loved it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Grits Helme

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bailey Wallace

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mary Rizzo

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jan Ayers

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vantine

  21. 5 out of 5

    Geneva

  22. 4 out of 5

    Clare

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamaca

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin Boyington

  26. 4 out of 5

    Neely Hudson

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erica (The Literary Apothecary)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edrina Strother

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tija

  30. 4 out of 5

    Whit Preston

  31. 5 out of 5

    Riegs

  32. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Hunt

  33. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Irvin

  34. 4 out of 5

    Marissa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Christi

  36. 4 out of 5

    Izabel

  37. 4 out of 5

    editrix

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ayla

  39. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Strock

  40. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Boddie

  41. 4 out of 5

    Cle

  42. 5 out of 5

    Karen Miller

  43. 4 out of 5

    Rekesha

  44. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  45. 4 out of 5

    Tameca

  46. 4 out of 5

    Monique

  47. 5 out of 5

    Edi

  48. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

  49. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

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