Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Webcomic Review: Unshelved

I believe I've mentioned before, but I've spent the past four summers working in the local libraries* and one of them was actually a paid job and, as I discovered, when you work 30 hours a week you tend to have a bit of downtime. For me this usually occurred around Wednesday or Thursday (when I finally finished shelving all the books that had come in over the weekend/Monday and Tuesday) and I would see if anyone needed any help in the back but normally everything was quite back there too. One day one of the other librarians showed me this comic mainly because she wanted to show me their yearly contest, Pimp my Bookcart. I still regret that I couldn't do that over the summer working at the library and, having spent so much time working at a library I can say yes, pretty much anything that happens in this comic I could see happening/actually has happened to someone I know.

A series of strips (it's a long running comic, it took me forever to read the backlog) involving various librarians and patrons at a fictional library. Told in the gag-a-day format (except for Fridays which usually have a book review instead) there is no overarching plot here but fully embraces the slice-of-life genre instead. It's true that some of the events in the story are more fantastical than others (the mascot library page who never takes off his outfit comes to mind) but, as I'm sure anyone in customer service could tell you, you do run into a lot of strange people and strange experiences in the world so the story still manages to feel relatively realistic no matter what it throws at you. My only problem with this comic is that it's a little hard for new readers to get into because of the sheer size and lack of archive (I had to bookmark each day where I stopped reading or just remember the strip number) and you do need to know something about the characters to get the jokes. You might be able to make do with the character bios on the "about"page but it would probably be a good idea to just slowly work your way through the archives instead and be prepared that it might take a while.

It is honestly my goal someday to do the "pimp my bookcart" contest, guess I'd better try yet again for a job at the college library, this could take a while...

*I am a third gen librarian after all....


  1. I love this comic strip - as a librarian, I can totally relate, and it helps me smile when I'm dealing with the kids who won't stop screaming (see today's strip, 3/23). Sorry to rain on your parade, though, but according to the Unshelved website, the 2010 Pimp My Bookcart contest was the last. http://www.unshelved.com/pimpmybookcart

  2. Noooo, my life dreams crushed! Guess I'd better find another reason to dress up a book cart....