A committee of six librarians and paraprofessionals who work with urban fiction readers in public and school libraries named Decoded, rapper J-Z’s acclaimed examination of the music that made him a star, the winner of the 2011 Street Lit Book Award Medal. The top runner-ups in the voting were recognized as as Honor Books in order of scoring: Kia DuPree’s Damaged, K’wan’s Welfare Wifeys, Chunichi’s The Streets Keep Calling, and Mark Anthony’s Diary of a Young Girl.
This new award is the brainchild of Vanessa Irwin Morris, a Philadelphia library school professor, author of the forthcoming The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature, and a former columnist of “The Word on Street Lit” column in LJ‘s BookSmack! e-newsletter. “I came up with the idea for the award last summer when I wrote a post on my blog celebrating ten years of 21st-century street lit,” explains Morris via email.
Recruiting her committee through her blog and various library listserves such as YALSA-BK, Morris had members nominate their top five titles published in 2010, based on patron popularity, their knowledge of the genre, and the books’ quality in terms of the value they brought to the genre. Three rounds of voting resulted in the final winners. “It was a very democratic process that was also interesting because we shared titles and reviews and enjoyed sharing our expertise of the genre.” Morris aims to have the award serve as an annual guide to what is the most popular and best street lit to assist librarians and other educators in developing their collections and conducting readers’ advisory in this genre.