MORE fun with call numbers on the new ‘Shelved’ TV show

This TV show highlights call numbers in a clever and special way!

Two readers recently alerted me to the new Canadian TV show Shelved, and as you may have seen in April’s “Recent additions” post, I have added all the episode details to this site’s TV Shows page. Shelved is, as CTV describes it, a “work-place comedy centered around the lives of the employees and patrons at the Jameson Public Library in Parkdale [a neighborhood in Toronto, Canada] as they go about their lives in this unassuming yet extraordinary place.” The lead characters are all librarians and library workers, including: Lyndie Greenwood as branch head librarian Wendy Yarmouth, Paul Braunstein as assistant branch head librarian Bryce de Laurel, Dakota Ray Hebert as junior librarian Jacqueline โ€œJaqโ€ Bedard, and Chris Sandiford as senior librarian Howard Tutt. And OF COURSE one of the show’s tagline is: “SHHH Happens.” ๐Ÿ˜€

The show was inspired by real-life Parkdale Library in Toronto, and the branch’s head librarian, Miranda Huska, even has a cameo in the series!

Here’s an excerpt from a recent review of the TV series:

“[T]he show is a welcomed addition to Canadian television and is unlike anything weโ€™ve seen before. The single camera comedy format alongside deadpan humour is something usually reserved for major American networks, while providing viewers with familiarity of being set in Toronto with its multiculturalism and diversity. This is where the show shines. Aside from the writing being well done, the diversity of characters both highlights and pokes fun at certain prejudices while allowing viewers of diverse demographics to find themselves in the story.”

Kevin Bourne, “TV Review โ€“ Shelved is a Comedic Look at Classism and Diversity in Toronto,” Shifter, 6 March 2023

I am particularly intrigued by the true-to-life issues this show (comedically) incorporates, such as diversity, classism, and the effects on the community due to under-funding of vital social support services like public libraries. I’m not able to watch the show (yet), but I will keep a lookout if any streaming service, like Amazon Prime or Hulu, decide to make it available it for U.S. audiences to enjoy. In the meantime, I looked up the episode list on IMDb.com, and I clapped with delight when I realized how this TV show incorporates call numbers in a clever and delightful way… front and center in their episode titles! This totally seems to match the tone, theme, and library setting of the entire series. Bravo!

A brief review of Dewey Decimal call numbers

We’re going to get into each episode’s title and use of call numbers below. But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same foundation with the basic function and general layout of call numbers. If you’re a longtime reader of Reel Librarians (as ever, thank you!), then you’ll likely be familiar with call numbers, so feel free to skip down below to get to the good stuff. ๐Ÿ˜‰ But if you’re new (hi!) or need a refresher, think of call numbers as addresses for specific books. It’s how materials are organized and shelved in a library’s physical space, and it’s how users actually find physical items in a library. Probably the most common call number system — also referred to as a “classification system” in the biz — used in public libraries and K-12 school libraries is the Dewey Decimal classification system, also known as “DDC.” Dewey originated in the U.S. in the 1870s (named by and after its creator, librarian Melvil Dewey), and has been translated into 30+ languages and adapted for use in over 135 countries. Dewey uses ten main categories, or “classes” (000’s through 900’s) to organize items. Although you technically can catalog fiction with Dewey call numbers, most public libraries only use Dewey call numbers to catalog non-fiction (i.e., factual works) by its subject matter, not by author. So if you are researching a non-fiction topic like whales, you’d probably want to find multiple books about the same subject (whales) all together, right? But for fiction, you’re likely to be looking for a title, or multiple titles, by the same author. Therefore, most public libraries organize fiction in its own separate section and organized by author; larger public libraries also usually have separate sections for other popular genres or formats, like science fiction, mystery, romance, biography, large print, etc.

The first line of a Dewey Decimal call number indicates the main category the book is in, like whether or not it’s fiction or non-fiction (and subject matter). The second line usually indicates the first three letters of the author’s last name. Here’s slide #19 from an “Introduction to Call Numbers” Slideshare that visually demonstrates how to begin reading and understanding Dewey Decimal call numbers:

Introduction to Call Numbers” Slideshare by glenoaksweb, used under “fair use” guidelines

Different call number systems are used in different kinds of libraries, including — but not limited to! — the Library of Congress classification system that most academic (college and university) libraries use. But understanding the basic structure of call numbers will suffice for now!

Exploring episode titles for ‘Shelved’

As I mentioned, each episode thus far for Shelved integrates call numbers. So fun! Below is a list of each episode, its summary, its title, and what each call number reveals — both on the show AND in its real-life inspiration library. Did the show gets its call numbers right?? (Spoiler: Partly.) Let’s explore and evaluate!

Episode 1: โ€œJane Eyre FICTION BROโ€ (1.1, March 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Wendy attempts to get the Jameson library new computers while Howard, the transfer librarian from Midtown, arrives to work at the branch.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The novel Jane Eyre, by English author Charlotte Brontรซ, published in 1847.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “FICTION” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Fiction section, and the “BRO” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Brontรซ. (Note: This novel was first published under Charlotte’s pen name “Currer Bell,” but the call number is alphabetized by the author’s real surname.)
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: FICTION BRO
  • Call number accuracy: An exact call number match! 5 books out of 5 ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“–

Episode 2: โ€œThings Fall Apart FICTION ACHโ€ (1.2, March 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Howard creates a list of improvements for the library, which result in chaos. Wendy starts a new program that causes an embarrassing misunderstanding.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The novel Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. This was the debut novel by Achebe, a Nigerian writer, and the book was first published in 1958.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “FICTION” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Fiction section, and the “ACH” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Achebe.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: FICTION ACH
  • Call number accuracy: Another exact match! 5 books out of 5 ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“–

Episode 3: โ€œDrag: The Complete Story NONFIC DOOโ€ (1.3, March 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Bryce objects to a drag queen storytime reader prompting sensitivity training for all staff. Things get awkward between Howard and Sheila.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The non-fiction book, Drag: The Complete Story, by Simon Doonan, published in 2019.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “NONFIC” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Non-Fiction section, and the “DOO” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Doonan.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: 306.768 DOO
  • Call number accuracy: This is where things fall apart! 2.5 books out of 5: ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– 1/2 ! (I gave it half-credit because the TV show call number does indicate that it’s non-fiction, and the “DOO” part is correct.) But because this is a non-fiction book, it needs an actual Dewey Decimal call number in order to be shelved by its subject matter, not by author. The 306.768 call number used by the Toronto Public Library system reveals that it’s shelved in the 300s category, Social Sciences; the 306 indicates Culture and Institutions; and the 306.768 subdivision indicates “Sexual orientation, transgenderism, intersexuality”

Episode 4: โ€œAnd Still I Rise FICTION ANGโ€ (1.4, March 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Wendy organizes a shelf for women’s appreciation week, so Bryce protests by creating a shelf for men’s appreciation month. Meanwhile, Alvin is embarrassed when he learns that the subjects of paintings are different than he perceived.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The book of poetry, And Still I Rise, by American poet Maya Angelou, first published in 1978. “And Still I Rise” is also the name of the title poem included within this collection.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “FICTION” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Fiction section, and the “ANG” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Angelou.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: 811 ANG
  • Call number accuracy: Uh oh! Only 2 books out of 5: ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ! (2 books for getting the “ANG” part correct.) Most public libraries shelve poetry in the Literature section of the Dewey Decimal call numbers. The 811 call number used by the Toronto Public Library system reveals that it’s shelved in the 800s category, Literature and Rhetoric (works of literature and works about literature); the 811 subdivision indicates American poetry in English.

Episode 5: โ€œThe Hunger Games FICTION COLโ€ (1.5, April 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Howard, Jaq, and Bryce compete in a book push to win a paid day off. Wendy panics when Unhoused Wendy locks herself in the bathroom.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The dystopian novel The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins, first published in 2008.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “FICTION” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Fiction section, and the “COL” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Collins.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: SCIENCE FICTION COL
  • Call number accuracy: So close! 4 books out of 5: ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ! The TPL system has a specific section for Science Fiction, and they’ve decided to shelve The Hunger Games in that specific genre/collection, rather than in the more general Fiction section. (To be fair, I’ve seen this book and series shelved in different sections in different libraries, including in general Fiction, Science Fiction, and in Young Adult Fiction sections!)

Episode 6: โ€œMoby Dick FICTION MELโ€ (1.6, April 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Jaq finds her favorite author’s new book problematic; Bryce visits a patron about a lost book; Wendy downplays the branch to get donations.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The novel Moby Dick, by American author Herman Melville, first published in 1851.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “FICTION” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Fiction section, and the “MEL” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Melville.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: FICTION MEL
  • Call number accuracy: Another exact match! 5 books out of 5 ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“–

Episode 7: โ€œWall and Piece NONFIC BANโ€ (1.7, April 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Wendy oversees a community mural with temperamental artists; someone from Wendy’s past arrives, causing Jaq and Howard to meddle.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The book Wall and Piece by British graffiti artist Banksy, published in 2007, a photographic collection of Banksy’s art, along with biographical and artistic commentary by the artist. (I’m also assuming that “Wall and Piece” is a play on Leo Tolstoy’s 1869 novel War and Peace — a clever nod to the political, social, and anti-war themes often present in Banksy’s art.)
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “NONFIC” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Non-Fiction section, and the “BAN” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Banksy.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: 709.2 BAN
  • Call number accuracy: Yikes! Only 2.5 books out of 5: ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– 1/2 ! (I gave it half-credit because the TV show call number does indicate that it’s non-fiction, and the “BAN” part is correct.) The 709.2 call number used by the Toronto Public Library system reveals that it’s shelved in the 700s category, The Arts; the 709 indicates standard subdivisions of Art, including “History, geographic treatment, biography”; and the 709.2 subdivision specifically indicates “Biography” of artists.

Episode 8: โ€œBrave New World SF HUXโ€ (1.8, April 2023)

  • What the episode is about: “Wendy fights to keep her library alive; Howard considers moving on from the library; Jaq and Bryce contend with their future at the branch.” (via IMDb.com Episodes List)
  • What this episode title refers to: The dystopian science fiction novel Brave New World, by English author Aldous Huxley, published in 1932.
  • Where this item is shelved in Shelved: The “SF” part of the call number tells us that this book is shelved in the Science Fiction section, and the “HUX” is the beginning of the author’s last name, Huxley.
  • Where this item is shelved in the real-life Toronto Public Library system: SCIENCE FICTION HUX
  • Call number accuracy: Sooooo close… 4.5 books out of 5 ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– ๐Ÿ“– 1/2! The TV show abbreviated “Science Fiction to “SF.”

Overall, Shelved did pretty well with their call numbers, particularly with the fiction titles. They earned 3 exact call number matches, with another 2 very close call numbers. Where they stumbled was with the non-fiction titles.

Summing up & looking ahead

Yes, I know I’m being picky and nerdy here by examining and evaluating these call numbers. HELLO, I’m a librarian! (#NoRegrets #LibrarianLife #CallNumbers4Eva) If you’re going to put call numbers out there, especially front and center in your episode titles, you know that information professionals are going to notice. And critique your efforts. And have fun doing it. And then offer you advice and resources so you can get it right the next time. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Contact me anytime, Shelved. Til then, thanks for the clever use of book titles and call numbers!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from "Dual Spires" Psych episode
Closeup of Dewey Decimal call numbers | Screenshot from โ€œDual Spiresโ€ Psych episode

You can explore more posts I’ve written about call numbers here, including this epic round-up post: The good, the bad, and the misshelved | Library call numbers in the movies.

And speaking of TV shows and call numbers… we are definitely on a theme this month! I’m going to have a very special post next time, an interview with a real-life props buyer who has created call numbers for TV shows! Stay tuned!

Sources used

Advertisement
%d bloggers like this: