Congratulations to Unshelved

Just received this press release noting that the webcomic strip Unshelved, set in a library, has reached its fifth anniversary.

Created by librarian Gene Ambaum and cartoonist Bill Barnes, the strip went live on the Internet on February 16, 2002, and quickly gained a cult following among library workers. Unshelved’s audience continued to grow as more and more people discovered the exploits of a sarcastic public librarian named Dewey. Today, over 35,000 readers enjoy the strip every day at, via free email delivery, and by RSS feed.

“Is it a comic that only librarians can appreciate? No.” says writer Gene Ambaum. “A library is basically a store — everyone has been on one side of the counter or the other. Fortunately for us there really is such a thing as a stupid question.”

Dewey and his fellow librarians deal with an interesting cross-section of people, from a guy who celebrates freedom of expression by wearing no clothes to patrons who want books for their pets. Many sequences, such as the man who uses bacon as a bookmark, are true stories contributed by readers.

This is also the second year that Unshelved has devoted its Sunday color strips to recommending new and classic books. Libraries, schools, and bookstores use these “Unshelved Book Club” strips in displays that promote reading.

“Unshelved is always a blast to make,” says artist Bill Barnes, “I get to draw Dewey saying the things everyone wishes they could say, except they’d be fired. And every Sunday I draw a scene from a different book. For a cartoonist who was practically raised in a library it’s a dream come true.”

Unshelved continues to be available for free on its website, and there are four published Unshelved collections with a fifth scheduled to debut this summer.

One Response to “Congratulations to Unshelved”

  1. Monk Says:

    It’s a great strip for librarians. Though sometimes I kinda wish the county government issued me a handgun.




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