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Quick 'n Dirty Urban Fiction

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Elena McVicar

on 16 November 2014

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Transcript of Quick 'n Dirty Urban Fiction

Paperback books

African-American only

Hi-lo books

Street lit



Urban setting


Drugs and drinking

Fiction and non-fiction featuring
diverse characters and fast-paced plot,
with wide-appeal for many
reading and interest levels
in an urban setting.

Street Lit Awards
The Bluford
Creating Our Collection
Issues Maintaining the Collection
2014 Winner
Hip Hop Biography

Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith
by Gabrielle Douglass
Butterfly: A Novel
by Sylvester Stephens
Way Too Much Drama
by Earl Sewell

2013 Winner
On the Flip Side: A Fab Life Novel
by Nikki Carter

How to Get Out of the Way of Your Own Self
by Tyrese Gibson
by Kia Dupree
Back to Me
by Earl Sewell
Contemporary Street Literature can be
defined as a literary genre
"where the stories, be they fiction or non-fiction, are
consistently set in urban, inner-city enclaves
Street Literature of yesteryear and today, by and large,
depicts tales about the daily lives of
people living in lower income city neighborhoods
This characteristic
spans historical timelines, varying cultural identifications, linguistic associations,
and various format designations
The Readers' Advisory Guide to Street Literature
, 2011, p. 2.
Hispanic/Latino Lit
Street Lit
Islamic Fiction
Print Runs
Searching for books in Baker & Taylor, Ingram,
or Brodart
Doing My Own Thing: A Fab Life Novel

by Nikki Carter
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Bullying JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Adolescence JUVENILE FICTION / School & Education

Library subjects:
High school students; Fiction.; Schools; Fiction.; Bullies; Fiction.; Cyberbullying; Fiction.
Bluford High: Pretty Ugly
by Karyn Langhorne Folan
Final Points to Ponder
What makes urban fiction different from general realistic fiction?

Amish Street Lit?

Would you consider creating an Urban Literature section? African-American section?

Questions? Comments?
"I'm just mainstream fiction."
"A very, very conservative white man...
he asked me, 'Well, there is this black lady on the cover, can I read this book?'
And I asked him, 'Well, can you read?!'"
"Urban fiction, street fiction, ghetto lit, gangsta lit, hip-hop lit are many of the names for the genre of novels that
depict the 'poverty, crime, drugs, domestic violence' and sexual mores of urban communities
via high-action plots and impulsive characters."
- Teen Urban Fiction Pathfinder
"Melodramatic, page-turning fiction about diverse characters growing up in contemporary urban America." - Novelist: All About Teen Urban Fiction
Where would you place the following books? Urban or not?
An orphan is forced to work in unfavorable conditions and eventually escapes to a city where he gets caught up in a gang and is forced to participate in unlawful activities.
A girl, raised in the dirt poor Appalachian hills, is sold by her father to a couple that abuses her sexually, emotionally and physically. She eventually makes her way to her mother’s family in Boston where chaos continues to ensue.
Devastated after her mother gambles away her college fund, a teenager turns to Atlanta's music scene, writing music and singing back up for her cousin while also balancing boy troubles, a shooting and a reality show.
Set in New Orleans in the 1950s,
a girl dreams of leaving the city and her prostitute mother behind. When unsolved murders begin piling up, she finds herself pulled into the mystery and deeper into New Orleans.
JUVENILE FICTION / Social Issues / Adolescence
JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / United States / African American
JUVENILE FICTION / Performing Arts / Music

Library subjects:
African Americans; Fiction.; Teenagers; Fiction.; Cousins; Fiction.;
Music trade; Fiction.; Universities and colleges; Fiction.
Conversations About Urban Fiction
"Urban is Not the New Black" by Vanessa Irwin Morris
"Urban Fiction in Public Libraries" by Vanessa Irwin Morris
Reviews, Blogs and Book Lists
Lee County Library System's "Urban Books for Teens"
"Get Genrefied: YA Urban Fiction by Kelly Jensen
Library Services for Youth in Custory: In the Margins book awards
"What Makes a Good YA Urban Novel" by Randy Ribay
Reaching Reluctant Readers: Inspiring youth literacy at Alameda County Juvenile Justice Center
"What IS Street Lit?" from Fledgling: Zetta Elliott's blog
Assumptions About Urban Literature
"Street Fight: Welcome to the world of urban lit" by Amy Pattee
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Youth Collection Development Librarian
Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City, Missouri
The L.H. Bluford Branch
One branch experiment with urban fiction
Leave books interfiled or create new section?
Met with cataloging to determine what needs to change in the catalog:
Change item categories?
Change call numbers?
Re-catalog all books in section?
What happens if new section fails?
Number of books in collection: 220

More than half circulated in three months!

Saved books from weeding

New copies
Future of Bluford's Urban Fiction section

Possible expansion into other branches?

Impact on adult collections
Kansas City, Missouri
Service population 218,000

10 branches

One large Central Library
Four libraries in the urban core

Three branches where urban literature circulates well
The Kansas City Public Library
Youth Services Librarian, Bluford Branch
Kansas City Public Library
Kansas City, Missouri
Erica Voell
Elena McVicar
In the Margins Book Awards
Urban Literature Definitions
Urban Literature Definitions
Urban Literature Definitions
Full awards lists here:
ReShonda Tate Billingsley
The Key Coalition Neighborhood
Average age - 36
Median income - $19,000
86% African-American
Average home price - $36,000
"Dark red" on crime map (lots of crime)
90% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch
Ferguson implications
Transient population
Troost Corridor
Issues with teens in branch

Creating Our Collection
Still categorized in catalog as YA

No "urban" designation in catalog

"Urban Fiction" label on the spine

Other branches - label applied to new books with no separate section
Collection Successes
Street Literature
Subgenre of urban literature
Our Information
Elena McVicar
Youth Services Librarian, Bluford Branch

Erica Voell
Youth Collection Development Librarian
Creating Bluford's Collection
Determine what meets our idea of urban fiction

New copies

Multiple copies

Hope for checkouts
New award (started in 2014)

Includes both fiction and non-fiction

Looks for books that will appeal to youth (ages 9-21) living in poverty, on the streets or in custody

Gives preference to marginalized books (books that are self-published or from small independent publishers)

Extensive nominations list with a final Top Ten list
Urban or not?
Urban or not?
Urban or not?
Quick 'n Dirty Urban Literature
YALSA YA Lit Symposium
November 16th, 2014

DJ Rising
by Love Maia
Graffiti Moon

by Cath Crowley
When I Was the Greatest
by Jason Reynolds
Urban Outlaws

by Peter Jay Black
Perfect Chemistry
by Simone Elkeles
From Somalia with Love

by Na'ima B. Robert
With Friends Like These
by Reshonda Tate Billingsley
No Boyz Allowed
by Ni-Ni Simone
Prime Choice
by Stephanie taylor Moore
by Walter Dean Myers
Full transcript