Brash Jobs: How to Succeed in The Job Market

Hey Friends!

This edition of Brash Jobs is brought to you by some friends who make for a good story. As a member of the Florida Library Association (FLA) and a member of the FLA Facebook group, I often read posts regarding job openings, job posts, resume/job hunting questions, etc. and I came across a young lady looking for help.

fb advice

Meet Kayla.

Kayla is a 4th semester student of USC’s Masters of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) 5 semester program. When she’s not baking/cooking, waiting for the next Lindsey Stirling album, being a mom, or reading (shocker!), she’s trying to get her foot in the library industry’s door. Normally, I would censor out Kayla’s name, but she seemed pretty adamant about getting her name out there in as many outlets as possible – including this one. Well played, madam.

When I read her post, I flashed back to mid-MLIS Justin who was trying to find a job as well and having considerable trouble doing so. Thankfully, I had friends like Katy to help me network and get my foot in the door; I try to pay it forward whenever I can because of good people like that, so I messaged her to offer any advice possible.

While Kayla has no problem working in libraries, she expressed an interest in the private sector, particularly ProQuest. When I mentioned a just few other companies like Baker and TaylorDemco, Brodart and Ingram, she got all bug-eyed. She didn’t know how many private companies there are out there! Then again, “private companies in the library industry” isn’t usually a conversation you have over coffee with friends.



During my travels, I’ve met many great library professionals who work in the private sector – some amazing people, some leaning towards the shark variety. My friend Jamie, however, is one of those amazing people who is always helping out, giving advice, or trying to get you to join a board and/or committee.

(If I come back to Florida, I promise I’ll join one.)

Jamie has pretty much been the private sector since always, and jumped from Brodart to Ingram a while back. That made it very handy when Kayla wanted advice from somebody about a job at Ingram.

Kayla asked about my friend Jamie, I asked Jamie if it was okay to give her contact info, Jamie said yes, and BOOM – connections are made!



This conversation has too many exclamation points.

Traveling in both the acting and business worlds before libraries, I’ve heard, “it’s not WHAT you know, it’s WHO you know” a bajillion times before. I say that’s great and all, but it’s not what OR who; I think it’s about how you help others – to be catchy, “It’s about WHAT you do to help WHO you know”. Scratch that – It’s about who you COULD know.

Sure, I could have said or done nothing and let Kayla flounder.

“I don’t know this lady, she ain’t important to me, that’s her problem.”

That’s not who we are. Librarians are dedicated to helping people learn, and we learn best with the right tools and resources. By providing information and giving Kayla a leg up, she could be well on her way to becoming a Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist that hires ME years from now.

In that case, maybe it needs to be, “It’s about WHO you knew back when they were starting”.

Quotes aside, let’s recap some of the lessons for this week:

  • If you can help somebody, help them.
  • If you can’t help but know somebody who can, bring these people together.
  • If somebody helps you, pay it forward.
  • Ingram, if you’re reading this…keep an eye on Twitter for @KaylaKim_Bell because she’s hungry for work!

One of my favorite gangster movies is the British film Layer Cake, starring Daniel Craig and Tom Hardy (before they were James Bond and Bane). While it has several memorable quotes from it – my favorite quote?

“The art of good business is being a good middleman.”

If you’ve never seen this gem of a film, watch this scene below!


That’s all I have for this week – now get out there and make some connections! If you want to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for job help, I’ll do what I can to make sure we all succeed!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian




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Summer Reading Programs

Hey Friends!

Today, I’m going to talk a little about the everyday stuff inside the library…I’m hoping to give non-librarians a glimpse into what we consider the norm. For those of you who don’t know, libraries decide on a theme is for each annual Summer Reading Program (SRP); to keep things easier and more coherent, most state libraries agree on a certain theme nationally.

Contrary to popular belief, the American Library Association (ALA) DOES NOT decide the themes, but often works with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) or the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development (iREAD) program.

(You can read about it all here if you really want.)

Previous themes have been “Dig into Reading” for those like dinosaurs and/or buried treasure, “Spark A Reaction” to get kids into science, and lots of other generic themes. This year, it’s “Escape The Ordinary”. That’s right…THIS YEAR WAS SUPERHEROES.

So let me ask…How was Summer Reading Program?

tony stark

Iron Man was too perfect for this.

What insanely cool stuff did you have that worked? Anything that didn’t? Anything you thought would flop but turned out to be a big success?

For our library, we started with having a city skyline, complete with villains and heroes at our circulation desk.


The trash can is where you put criminals.

Once you got to our reference desk, you’d swear we had the Bat-computer!

reference wall

I bumped that ball with the masks EVERY day. Tall people problems.

We took comic books that were being withdrawn and put them to good use lining the wall behind our desk. If you’re curious, the comic book ring is strips of comics taped around an inflatable pool ring. Genius!

The use of spare comics didn’t end there. String up some comic book pages, a little rope, a Spider-man made from cardboard, and you have a web-slinging display!


Reads whatever a spider can…

Not only did we make our areas fun, we even made them interactive! One wall in our children’s area was made into a photo op wall where you could fly with a cape!



I know, greatest shirt ever.

How do we get capes flying, you ask? Quite simple really!

  1. Cut up a t-shirt so you only have the neck and back for your cape.
  2. Tie clear fishing line to the cape corners.
  3. Have another librarian pull on the fishing line to give the flying effect.


    LIKE SO!

  4. Crop said librarian out of the picture. Ta-da, you’re a superhero!

We also had a wall where you could post your funny pics, but only about three people posted. Hey, you can’t win them all.

All of our posters and flyers were a big success. Superheroes reading?



The one that really surprised me was the Batgirl poster I made. I made it to show patrons that librarians are heroes too, but it turns out all the librarians want one!

batgirl librarian

Now accepting orders.

One of our staff even made fashionable fighting head bands!


That’s right, our ladies were walking around with BOOM!, BAM!, WHAM! and many others during the summer. Awesome, right??? I work with such talented people who need to start their own Etsy shops.

Speaking of Etsy shops, you guys should take a look at my sister’s Etsy shop, Phoenix Fire by Ash! She makes scarves, pencil/dice bags, tote bags, baby bibs, pot holders, and does custom orders as well for all the nerdy librarians and book worms in your life. I’ll show off some of her great stuff in an upcoming post, be sure to check out her Facebook page in the meantime!

That’s all for this week. If you want to see more awesome photos and ideas, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get every update and photo!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian













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How Much Do You Love Your Librarians?

Hey Friends!

This week, I have a favor to ask. It’s not too big, it’ll require a little bit of your time, but it’s for a good cause. The American Library Association (ALA) initiative group I Love Libraries is having their annual I Love My Librarian Awards and they are currently accepting submissions for the top 10 librarians through September 28th. As found on their nomination page,

“Librarians touch the lives of the people they serve every day.  The I Love My Librarian Award encourages library users like you to recognize the accomplishments of exceptional public, school, college, community college, or university librarians.  We want to hear how you think your librarian is improving the lives of the people in your school, campus or community.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


No, the big favor isn’t that you nominate me.

The favor is that you take to time to nominate a librarian in general.

It doesn’t have to be me. It can be your librarian friend, the local librarian who helped you find something, your roommate who works at the college library, your sister who works for a library in another state, anyone! Just show them that you care and appreciate what they do for you and others around you. Every day, librarians are helping kids foster a love for books and knowledge, providing teens a safe haven where they can learn, play and put their creativity to good use, and teaching adults the skills they need to compete in a world of technology. It’s a tough job, and sometimes we need some motivation and gratitude. Librarians put up with angry patrons, screaming children, and just flat-out crazy people who wear tin foil hats; a little bit of praise can it make it all worth while.

Keep in mind that they do have to be a “real” librarian – by that, I mean they have to be:

  •  a librarian with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited college program  in library and information studies OR a librarian with  a master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education
  • currently working in the United States in a public library, a library at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or at an accredited K-12 school

I know September 28th is a far ways away, but it will approach faster than you think. Nominate your favorite librarian here, and remember to show your love of librarians on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all to envy you and your super smart friends!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian






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Upcoming News and Events

Hey Friends!

Whew! It’s been a long week or two, I hope everyone is surviving the summer heat out there!


Just another summer patron.

Not a super-heavy post this week, I just wanted to keep everyone in the loop of some upcoming news and additions to Brash Librarian. In the future, I’d like to post more about items, services, apps, interviews and other stuff that might help keep librarians up-to-date and fresh-to-death. (Yes, my lingo lives in 1987.)

  • Do you have a service/app/product that you think we librarians would love? Tell me about it!
  • Do you have ideas or would like to be heard on my blog? Maybe you’ve been reading Brash Jobs and have some wisdom you want to impart? Let’s do a post together!
  • Are you an author who would like be heard and to promote a book? It’s not the first time I’ve helped out an underdog author!

Don’t forget you can reach me on Facebook or Twitter! I’m also fairly fun to follow on Instagram, too. Have fun and keep cool out there – or if you’re in Florida, keep dry and don’t drown!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: Preparing The Interview (Part 3)

Hey Friends!

For those of you on the mailing list, my system went super crazy and sent out an earlier, unfinished draft of this week’s post the other day. Disregard that one! 

Brash Jobs is back this week with the next step of the job-hunting process. You know what I’m talking about: the dreaded interview. This is where everything is make or break and you have to be on your tip-top game to get the job. The tension! The pressure!

How it might look:

Portrait Of Female Woman Sitting At Interview

How it might feel:

shark attack

Relevant AND slightly comical!

Never fear! This is just the next step in your training montage to get the job you want.

*Cue Eye of the Tiger*

Forbes and Glassdoor have both written about the top 50 most asked interview questions, presented below. Be ready for any of these at the interview:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  6. Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  9. Are you willing to relocate?
  10. Are you willing to travel?
  11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  13. What is your dream job?
  14. How did you hear about this position?
  15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  16. Discuss your resume.
  17. Discuss your educational background.
  18. Describe yourself.
  19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  20. Why should we hire you?
  21. Why are you looking for a new job?
  22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  24. What are your salary requirements?
  25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  26. Who are our competitors?
  27. What was your biggest failure?
  28. What motivates you?
  29. What’s your availability?
  30. Who’s your mentor?
  31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  32. How do you handle pressure?
  33. What is the name of our CEO?
  34. What are your career goals?
  35. What gets you up in the morning?
  36. What would your direct reports say about you?
  37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
  38. If I called your boss right now and asked them what is an area that you could improve on, what would they say?
  39. Are you a leader or a follower?
  40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
  42. What are your hobbies?
  43. What is your favorite website?
  44. What makes you uncomfortable?
  45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  46. How would you fire someone?
  47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
  50. What questions do you have for me?

Think you’ve got these covered? Then I’ll leave you to try out the top 25 oddball questions! Think you’re about to panic? Forbes also has tips and tricks to ace the top ten questions!

I will leave most of these questions to you guys to answer for yourselves, but I’ll address specific ones you have a question – just post in the comments below or ask me on Facebook or Twitter! For help with questions 7, 14, 20, and 26, you can read my last post on prepping for the interview. Don’t forget my Instagram is pretty rad, too.

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian


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Amazon Prime Day: The Internet’s Biggest Disappointment

Hey Friends!

If you read last week’s post about Amazon’s 20th anniversary (called “Prime Day”), then you were probably hopeful and waiting like everyone else on the internet! Promised to be bigger than Black Friday, Prime Day was anything but that.

“Aw come on, Justin. It wasn’t THAT bad.”

Let’s take to Twitter!

Jeff Bezos had a bad case of “over promise, under deliver”. My brother told me days ago that “Bezos always delivers”. Better start eating those words, Alex.

I have some recommendations, Amazon.

Why do I care about this? Because I’m a librarian. I’m a seeker of information. I seek good prices for my hard-earned money, as should you be, too. Paying retail is for chumps. Stay tuned to the end and I’ll give you an additional tool to finding those good prices.

Let us know what’s going on

I get it, Amazon, you wanted to keep Prime Day items a big mystery. However, I should at least have the option flag a particular product and get an alert when it goes on sale during Prime Day. You guys already notify me when packages ship, get delivered, and when a wait-listed item is available…why not give us what we really want?

The popular app If This Then That (IFTTT) lets me know when prices change for items that I want at places like Best Buy, and that app is FREE. For $99/year, you can do better that that. This would be especially useful when new flash deals got unveiled throughout the day. Because, you know, no one wants to refresh their page every 10 minutes to see if anything new has come up.

Space deals out better

This was Prime Day, not the new Nintendo, iPhone or Apple Watch. Amazon made a whopping mistake in front-loading some of its best items at midnight PST. At 1, 2, and 3am for the rest of the USA is not when I want to be hunting for deals. When I checked at 2am, most of the items were so-so. A few hours later when I woke up for work, two of its major TV deals and hot items like the Amazon Echo were already gone.

It made zero sense to debut all the A-listers in the middle of the night, especially when the sale is just for Prime subscribers (and lasts all day). That lead to extreme disappointment for users who were either not in the know or felt on the fence about buying a product. Space the deals out and let the average person with a life have a chance of getting stuff.

Make it easy to find what I actually want

This part made me more frustrated than anything.

Amazon prime

Seriously, you’re going to force me to navigate through stuff I don’t want?

I am restricted to seeing five random on-sale items at a time, and this is PAGE 1 OF 262?!

“But look! You can narrow it down by department!”

Great! Let’s look in electronics…96 PAGES.

Offer recommendations

That horrible interface could’ve been way easier if Amazon used its current arsenal, like using my order and browsing history to suggest items I’d be interested in.  Amazon already recommends items I might like or ones based on items I’ve viewed/bought, so why not show a similar algorithm on Prime Day?

Nobody deserves to slog through 260 pages of beard trimmers, work boots, krill oil, DVDs, bras, stereos and vitamins to get to the things they want.However, being forced to look at items I had no interest in buying did get me to buy a few things I wasn’t expecting. A chef’s hat for $3.49? Well, one of our part time kids just got accepted into a cooking school…you win that round, Amazon.

Be honest

The reason that Amazon Prime subscribers stay subscribers is because they like being treated well by Amazon; We like feeling important. I thought Amazon would treat its Prime members well on Prime Day, but it was really a warehouse-cleaning garage sale with the hopes of grabbing new Prime members who signed up for the 30 day trial and forget to cancel.


If you stay tuned to the end, then congrats! If you’ve never heard of Camel camel camel, then this may become your new best friend. CCC can compare and track prices for you on Amazon items, and can even notify you when the price changes. FREE!

If you’ve already heard of CCC, then I’ve really got nothing for you. Here’s a cute puppy!



That’s all for this week, I hope you got a few good Prime deals!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian



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Amazon Prime Day Is Coming…Are You Ready?

Hey Friends!

This week is a bit more a social experiment, and I’d like your input. As some of you may have heard, Amazon is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary next week on July 15th and announced it would have “Prime Day“. Starting at midnight and running 24 hours, Amazon will be offering seven main specials throughout the day and lightning deals on clothing, electronics, movies, and more as often as every ten minutes! However, Prime Day is only open to Amazon Prime members.

prime day

“But Justin, I’m not a Prime member!”

Okay, go sign up for a Prime account! Sign up for a free 30-day trial and get access. BOOM.

While this sounds very exciting, I’m not sure how I feel about Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos claiming that Prime Day will be “bigger than Black Friday” or Alibaba’s Singles Day. I mean, that’s a bold statement, Bezos. This better be some incredible stuff you’ve got…If it just turns out to be last year’s Blu-Rays, cameras, GPS gadgets, and tablets, I’m gonna be mad.

After a little sniffing around, it seems I’m not the only skeptic. Time magazine is fairly convinced that Amazon is after two things:

  1. Getting more people to become Prime members, whether they forget to cancel their 30-day trials or get addicted to the free two-day shipping
  2. Crushing their potential competitor, which rolls out later this year.Jet is still in beta testing, but should launch publicly later this year. Jet’s model is a yearly fee ($50) with an incentive-based price scale; items would be 5%-6% lower than anywhere online and even lower if members agree to certain terms – giving their email address, using their debit card, promising not to return an item, etc. Personally, I think the idea is awesome.

For this week, I want to hear from YOU:

Will you be engaging in Prime Day? What are you hoping to get? What kind of prices are you expecting? Do you think it’s going to be bigger than Black Friday? Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Next week, we’ll discuss how Prime Day went!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian (and Prime Day shopper)




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