Thursday, February 5, 2009

Librarians on Street Lit

Brooklyn and NYPL librarians recently ran a survey about street lit (what is it? here's Wikipedia's entry), and they've written up the results in the most recent issue of School Library Journal. Some findings:

  • 49% of the respondents worked in urban libraries, 43% in suburban libraries, and 8% in rural libraries. 92.5% offered street lit in their collections.
  • Of the 7.5% not offering street lit (and, no, they're not all from rural areas!), 50% say it's because there's "no patron interest."
  • A librarian from urban Ohio wrote, "Our library director does not allow us to buy it because he feels it is inappropriate for our town....I am going to try to sneak some in.”
  • Street lit is often stolen, possibly because some patrons feel embarrassed about checking it out. To help solve this problem, the authors say librarians should shelve street lit where it's easy to find and be ready to answer questions about it openly and cheerfully.
  • An encouraging result, the authors write: "One thing we hoped our survey would show is that street lit is bringing nonreading teens into the public library—and that appears to true. Indeed, librarians are actively using street lit as a jumping-off point to create relationships with teens. As a librarian in an urban California library wrote, 'Talking about urban fiction with teens is a great way to get to know them… Having read some of the titles and/or at least being familiar with them helps to start the relationship.'"
For the full article, and examples from the "street lit canon," click here. And here are street lit resources for librarians--including lists of publishers and popular titles for teens.

Creative Commons image from satanslaundromat on Flickr.


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