“What do you get when you mix adults, teenagers, children, babies, seniors, professionals, parents, teachers, students, homeschoolers, and the homeless? That very funniest of places, your local public library, home of the hugely popular Web comic Unshelved.” [texts from the back cover]
Everything in this comic is eerily familiar: it tells the daily life of the staff from a dysfunctional library. Large Print is the eighth yearly compilation of Unshelved, a daily online comic strip originally published on the Unshelved website from February 16, 2009 to April 26, 2010, and ALA CogNotes newspapers in June 2009 and January 2010 (CogNotes is the daily paper of the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting and ALA Annual Conference, where the famous Unshelved “Conference Tips” are published). I have already reviewed the previous volumes in the blog entries “Unshelved” and “Unshelved #7: Reader's Advisory”. You can also find more information in the Wikipedia entry, the Official Unshelved Facebook page or the Unshelved Readers Facebook group.
This volume is noticeably more hillarious than the previous one. Everyone will laugh at the funny and often absurd situations happening in the Mallville public library. I am probably laughing even harder because I recognize myself a lot in there, since I experienced first-hand many of those situations. It's written by a real-life librarian and it shows. Of course, the art is a little crude and cartoony, but —as I often say— it's the story that counts.
This volume has something new: it has a few comments from the writers underneath the strips. It's interesting to read and I would have liked to have more of those. Also, this time the book is in a smaller format and in b&w only. However, since part of the book deals with how the library is coping with the recession, I think this downsizing is befitting the story. Large Print is compiling 313 daily strips (mostly in their original publishing order), 16 “Library Tips”, and 9 ALA “Conference Tips”. Unfortunately, the color “Book Club” pages (where the authors illustrate book recommendations) are absent and I am quite disappointed with this (however you can still read them online). But I guess it was necessary if they wanted the book to be only in b&w. All in all, Large Print offers a good laugh, particularly if you have ever spent some time in a public library. Highly recommended.
One of my favourite strips (from 2009/10/26):
Unshelved Vol. 8: Large Print, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes. Seattle, Overdue Media, 2010. 21.8 x 17 cm, 128 pgs., $11.95 US / $14.95 CDN. ISBN-13: 978-09740353-7-6.
P.S.: I pre-ordered this book via amazon.ca in january 2010. It was due to be released in mid-July, but it was only delivered in mid-September even if it had been available through the publisher's web site since july... Go figure! It is also disappointing that this book is not available at all through my local libraries network (where I work)!