Sunday, November 30, 2008


My latest reading (well, beside the daily newspaper and Time magazine) was pretty funny. It's a daily web comic strip created by Gene Ambaum (writer) and Bill Barnes (co-writer & artist) that I discovered by chance a few years ago. It has been published daily since 2002 and has been compiled, so far, in six volumes (and a seventh should be released in spring 2009). In 2006, I ordered from the publisher, Overdue Media (, the first three compilations: Vol. 1: Unshelved (2003); Vol. 2: What Would Dewey Do? (2004); Vol. 3: Library Mascot Cage Match (2005). I liked it a lot.

Written by a real-life librarian (but Gene Ambaum is not his real name) and illustrated by his friend, Bill Barnes, Unshelved tells the story of the people surrounding the Mallville Public Library. The main character is named Dewey! (for more details see the story primer or the Wikipedia entry). The art is rather simple, but the story is hilarious, educating and profess a great love for books. Despite the humorous situations that develop between the characters, it gives a good idea of the inner workings of a library. It could be a librarian training manual... Unshelved seems pretty popular: over 26,000 email subscribers. It's also published on its own website, as well as on the American Library Association website and CogNotes newspapers. The creators must be quite busy because (beside having day jobs) they tour lots of bookfairs, conferences and conventions!

Last month I found out that three more compilations had been published since I first discovered the series. Here they are:

“What happens in the library stays in the library. But oh, what happens in the library! Dewey has a book club, and you do not talk about Book Club. Colleen has a blog, but she doesn't know everyone can read it. Someone gave vegan Tamara a membership to the ham-of-the-month-club. And Merv reserved every copy of the new Harry Potter for purposes nefarious. This fourth Unshelved collection also features dozens of full-page full-color comic-format book talks, plus a very special storytime zombie nursery rhyme.” (From

This volume includes the usual strips, plus some Library conference tips, but the most interesting feature is the dozens of full-color “Unshelved Book Club” book talks where the library staff introduce on each page a new book. A kind of weekly book review, in color and often hilarious!

Unshelved Vol. 4: Book Club, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Overdue Media, 2006. 10.9 x 8.3 in, 120 pgs., $17.95 US / $22.42 CDN. ISBN-13: 978-0974035338.

“The fifth year of strips includes the famous "Pimp My Bookcart" sequence and a year's worth of full-color full-page "Unshelved Book Clubs" featuring the greatest books every written. Plus, never-before published strips and more!” (From

Unshelved Vol. 5: Read Responsibly, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Overdue Media, 2007. 10.9 x 8.2 in, 144 pgs., $17.95 US / $22.42 CDN. ISBN-13: 978-0974035345.

“No one gets asked questions more frequently than a librarian, and no librarian answers them with more attitude than Dewey! The latest Unshelved collection features a year's worth of daily comics and Conference Tips, plus the full-color Unshelved Book Club. Also features the Great Plastic Coffee Cup Lid Challenge between Unshelved and Sheldon, refereed by comics journalist Gary Tyrrell.” (From

Unshelved Vol. 6: Frequently Asked Questions, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Overdue Media, 2008. 10.9 x 8.2 in, 136 pgs., $17.95 US / $22.42 CDN. ISBN-13: 978-0974035352.

Unshelved © 2002-2008 Overdue Media LLC, all rights reserved.

If you are a fan, you can sign up for “Unshelved Readers,” the Facebook group.

No comments: