Welcome to Unshelved

The Characters - The Authors - Reuse Policy - Contact Us

Libraries provide access to information, entertainment, and the Internet. They are the backbone of democracy, sacred places where anyone can find answers to their questions.

Unfortunately, people who come there for help behave just as badly they do everywhere else.

Librarian Gene Ambaum and cartoonist Bill Barnes began publishing Unshelved on February 16, 2002. They have eleven published collections.

Our Heroes

Dewey is a teen services librarian. When confronted with rude or crazy customers, he says the things we’d like say, but we don't because it would get us fired. He’s got a way with teens because he’d rather be reading comics or playing video games. Coffee and a sense of irony see him through new library polices, and help him deal with bad behavior.

Tamara is a children’s librarian. She enjoys Aikido, storytime, vegan cookbooks, and rainbows. Tamara is cheery and idealistic, but don’t cross her. Her favorite letter is “T.”

Colleen is an old school reference librarian. She often feigns feigning computer illiteracy, and will defend the print reference collection to the death, if need be. She recently retired under the best possible circumstances and is set to become a nightmare patron (she knows where all the skeletons are buried AND what rules they broke). Doreen is her daughter.

Mel is the library’s beleaguered manager. Caught between an unreasonable administration and noncompliant staff, she tries to keep the chaos to a minimum. Her great passions are fly fishing and office supplies. Mel can’t state an opinion that isn’t immediately contradicted by events.

Buddy is a former summer reading mascot who was hired as a library page. He still wears his costume every day. Despite a colorful past and a weak grip on reality, Buddy single-handedly keeps the books on the shelves.

Dyna is a library assistant who was hired after Colleen retired. She's smarter than Dewey, impatient with the patrons and staff, and has no sense of humor whatsoever.

Elsie is the Mallville Public Library System's cataloger. No one ever sees her do anything except knit, but the work all magically gets done. She rarely leaves the admin building's basement.

Merv spends a lot of time in the library for someone who doesn’t like to read. He enjoys action figures, web surfing, and video games. Dewey is either his idol, the only person who will talk to him, or both.

Cathy is a high school teacher and Dewey’s wife. She tries to get Dewey to exercise while he tries to turn her into a science fiction fan.

Trillian is the newest addition to the cast. She's Dewey and Cathy's mohawk-sporting, book-eating daughter.

Ned is Mallville’s media-savvy attorney. He is also a civil libertarian who exercises his freedom of expression in a unique way.


Gene Ambaum by Bill Barnes

Gene Ambaum uses a pen name because he’s scared of his own shadow. He is so good at making fun of strange, difficult customers in Unshelved because he is the strangest, most difficult customer of all. He taught English overseas because no one there was in a position to criticize his spelling. If he ever starts another comic strip it will be about poop, because that’s what he spends most of his time thinking about. Follow @ambaum.

Bill Barnes by Gene Ambaum

Bill Barnes loves librarians, show tunes, and meat. He can count his toes without taking off his shoes. Over the past eleven years, he has tried to convince Gene that the meaning of “partnership” is doing what he says 99% of the time. He can often be seen wandering the floor at trade shows playing “The Final Countdown” on his ukulele Death Adder. In his spare time he draws Unshelved and writes a comic about the software industry, Not Invented Here. Follow @billba.


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For speaking inquiries, please email gene@overduemedia.com.

Want to use one of our strips for your website/newsletter/presentation/etc.? Read our Reuse Policy.

To comment on a strip, suggest a storyline, or anything else, please email unshelved@overduemedia.com.