rusq: Vol. 52 Issue 2: p. 160
Sources: The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Street Literature
Jenny Foster Stenis

Children Services Coordinator, Pioneer Library System, Norman, Oklahoma

One in the series of ALA Editions Readers Advisory Guides, this title is ground-breaking in its introduction to the genre “street literature.” Morris has brought her expertise in street literature from her beautifully written blog, Street Literature (, to this book. She begins by broadening the definition of this type of literature and distinguishes it from urban fiction. According to Morris, street literature is a subgenre of urban literature (fiction), but also encompasses nonfiction. It includes all ethnicities. The street itself is not just the setting, but a “silent antagonist.” “As a motif, the streets symbolize possibility and the enactment of choice; it is an ominous, mysterious, four-sided intersection with no directional signs” (20).

Every point in this book is supported by research, and this underlying scholarship brings Morris’s passion for street literature to the forefront. Her years as a librarian at Widener Public Library in Philadelphia have given her authentic experience with street literature and the patrons who read it. The book includes a thorough but brief history of street literature and emphasizes the importance of applying collection development principles—respect what customers want without censorship or judgment. Morris’s knowledge of this genre is evident in the thorough discussions of key authors, fiction and nonfiction, tone, and appeal to readers. A good discussion of types of publishers is included, and the book includes practical information on readers’ advisory and marketing techniques that are applicable to any situation. This title is a unique and comprehensive examination of an often overlooked and misunderstood genre of literature. This reference work is well-written and chock-full of information about the genre’s history, appeal, authors, and publishers. Particularly useful is the practical advice for building a collection, connecting with patrons, and marketing the library’s collection. The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature is the tool with which to begin or improve library service to an underserved population. Recommended purchase for all academic, school and public librarians, but a “must” purchase if the library serves urban populations.

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