"Gene and Bill are as funny in person as they are in their comic strip. They'll tell you important things as they keep you laughing nonstop with their unique perspectives on libraries, books, customer service, or whatever else you can convince them to talk about."
-- Nancy Pearl
“Our 2014 staff day was our most successful yet, and Gene and Bill were the staff’s favorite part!”
-- Derek Wolfgram, Deputy Director for Community Libraries, Santa Clara County Library District
"You received the highest scores for both Quality of Presentation and for Instructor Effectiveness of all the presentations at our All Staff Institute Day. More than 100 staff members want you to return next year, and many want you here every year going forward! I think it is safe to say that the CPL staff admires your wit and your humor, and are grateful that you are so insightful about their daily work."
-- Joan Levey, Project Coordinator, Chicago Public Library
"Bill Barnes was a smash hit at the Florida Library Association 2013 conference! He kept us laughing while reminding us of our (and our customers') foibles. Learning how he and his partner develop their comic strips was interesting and seeing it in action as he created a strip from one of our attendees “worst library story” was outstanding."
-- Ruth O'Donnell, Conference Coordinator
“The Unshelved keynote was the perfect wrap-up for our conference. Our attendees stated over and over how much they loved finishing with a humorous presentation that sent us back to our libraries recharged with energy and enthusiasm.”
-- Rita Ennen, 2012 North Dakota Library Association Conference Chair
We love making people laugh on the web and in person. We've delivered professional keynotes to conferences, universities, library systems, and corporate gatherings in over 40 states and internationally*. Our peculiar insights into librarianship and customer service leave attendees smiling and talking among themselves. They depart energized, validated, and uplifted. We’d love to speak to you and your group, wherever you are.
We've got two great keynotes for professional gatherings.
Tough customers got you down? Let us teach you how to stop worrying and learn to enjoy difficult people! In this keynote we focus on the Unshelved approach to customer service: the customer is seldom right. Most customer service interactions can be enjoyable if you have the right frame of mind. Or, failing that, at least you can have the last laugh. (~ 60 minutes)
This keynote speaks to customer service experiences beyond the reference desk, and is suitable for all library employees, even those who only deal with internal customers.
These days, we're all trying to make sense of daunting amounts of information. How can people find what they need to know? Why do they expect it faster and faster? Why don't they seem to care where information comes from? Why do they believe they don't need libraries anymore? And why are libraries trying to give these folks what they want instead of standing up for what a library should be? In an entertaining and highly opinionated keynote, Gene makes the case that now, more than ever, traditional libraries have a vital place in our communities. (~ 60 minutes)
This is our newest keynote, and Gene is still tinkering with it a bit.
If you've already hired us to do a keynote we're happy to throw in one of these for free if it doesn't add to our travel time:
Before your event, attendees submit their best work stories. Bill and Gene pick one and write and draw an Unshelved comic strip based on it. At the event we'll share the runners up, with some insight into why some were better suited for comic strips than others, then unveil the winner and the resultant comic strip. Signed prints will be provided for the winner and their library. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.)
If you'd like a longer breakout session, after the presentation of the signed prints, Gene will host an Unshelved Library Storyfest. He'll share some of the crazy library stories he's survived, along with a few of the sad and happy ones, and encourage attendees to do the same. (~ an additional 45 minutes.)
Gene and Bill love comics, and in this program they show you some of the reasons why, with moments that demonstrate the unique power of this amazing medium. (60 - 90 minutes)
If you work in libraries you know that sometimes you have to laugh or else you'll cry. In this 50 minute keynote we deliver the laughs as we take you on a tour of the Unshelved comic strip. The staff and patrons of the Mallville Public Library are instantly recognizable, and give your audience a unique opportunity to gently laugh at themselves and the people they work with on both sides of the desk. We deconstruct some of our greatest hits, and Gene tells some of the true-life stories that inspired them, as well as a few he had to leave out. (~ 60 minutes)
This speech has garnered standing ovations at dozens of state and regional library conferences, library schools, library staff development days, and corporate customer meetings. It is appropriate for all kinds of librarians: public, school, academic, and special**.
Here's a video clip of our opening skit, the Unshelved Library Simulator.
We imagine that you have invited us to teach your group how to do a better job banning books from libraries. We give a thorough, detailed, and helpful training. We'll tell you why to ban books, which books to challenge, who at the library to work with, what kind of approach you should take, and how to anticipate (and work around) a library's standard response. We'll also teach you the different types of secret censorship and how to use the library's collection development policy to your advantage. (~ 45 minutes)
We are longtime opponents of censorship, and in this talk you will gain a deeper understanding of who you're up against in the fight for intellectual freedom.
Please note that this breakout is back in development. A rough, newly reworked version may be available with enough notice.
For keynotes at professional gatherings such as staff days and conferences, we charge a speaking fee that varies with distance and venue, plus expenses (economy travel, accomodation, meals). For more information, references, availability, and a price quote, please contact Gene with as much detail about your event as possible.
For more information on hiring Bill to speak about cartooning to the public at your library, please contact him directly.
We look forward to hearing from you!
(Sorry, we have a limited number of spots free in our calendar, so we can't accept every invitation. We book strictly on a "first come, first served" basis, so email sooner rather than later!)
-Gene and Bill
the Unshelved guys
** All librarians are special
October 8, 2018 Walla Walla, WA
Walla Walla Rural Library District Staff Day (Gene)
November 15, 2018 Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach County Library System (Gene)
November 16, 2018 Fort Lauderdale, FL
Southeast Florida Library Information Network (Gene)
Jan 25 - 28, 2019 Seattle, WA ALA Midwinter (Library COMIC booth) (Gene)
March 1, 2019 Phoenix, AZ
Maricopa County Library District (Gene)
April 15 - 17, 2019 Austin, TX Texas Library Association Annual Conference (Library COMIC booth, Monday night event) (Gene)
June 21 - 24, 2019 Washington, DC
ALA Annual (Library COMIC booth) (Gene)
Check out our Full Schedule