Goodbye, David

Hey Friends!

It’s been quite a ride this new year so far! Last time on Brash Librarian, I announced that I was promoted to Circulation Manager! WOOO! However, I also said that might mean less posts until I get my bearings.

As most of the world knows by now, famed singer/actor David Bowie passed away from cancer last week on January 10th. Along with actor Alan Rickman (most famous for Severus Snape from Harry Potter) dying a few days later, I’d say 2016 is the year famous British people die at age 69. Thankfully, Gary Oldman has another decade and Paul McCartney is already 73.

So why do I care about David Bowie? What you probably didn’t know is that Bowie was a big library supporter and avid reader. How big a supporter? Big enough to do reading posters for libraries.

david bowieb

Reading! And leaping…?

How avid of a reader? Avid enough to have his own top 100 books list. While I won’t list all of them here, I’ll list off a dozen that I found interesting:

  • A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1890-1924, Orlando Figes (1997)
  • Beyond the Brillo Box: The Visual Arts in Post-Historical Perspective, Arthur C Danto (1992)
  • Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom, Peter Guralnick (1986)
  • The Life and Times of Little Richard, Charles White (1984)
  • Interviews with Francis Bacon, David Sylvester (1980)
  • Selected Poems, Frank O’Hara (1974)
  • A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess (1962)
  • On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious, Douglas Harding (1961)
  • The Divided Self, RD Laing (1960)
  • On the Road, Jack Kerouac (1957)
  • Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov (1955)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell (1949)

During an interview with Vanity Fair in 1998, he discussed his love of books and literature. The best question of the interview in my opinion?

david bowie 2_n

Other great answers included:

What is your greatest fear?
Converting kilometers to miles.

Which living person do you most admire?
Elvis. (Because Elvis didn’t die, he just went home.)

Who are your heroes in real life?
The consumer.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
“Chthonic,” “miasma.”

What is your greatest regret?
That I never wore bellbottoms.

What is your most treasured possession?
A photograph held together by cellophane tape of Little Richard that I bought in 1958, and a pressed and dried chrysanthemum picked on my honeymoon in Kyoto.

And my other favorite…

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to return books.

If that still holds true, Bowie either loves or hates me – depending on how long I’ve kept my current book. (I’m still holding on the Elon Musk biography, I’m so sorry everyone.)

That’s all I have for this week, kids. Don’t forget it’s Thursday, which means some great Throwback Thursday pics will be on my  FacebookTwitter or Instagram for all to enjoy!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian


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Hey Friends!

If you watch Futurama, you just heard this in Professor Farnsworth's voice.

If you watch Futurama, you just heard this in Professor Farnsworth’s voice.

Some exciting news this week that I’m happy to share. There has been some new things and people coming into our library, changes have been happening, and that includes changes for me…

This week, I’m pleased to announce that I have been promoted from Librarian II to Circulation Manager! While I officially start February 1st, I started training on Monday with the current manager to learn the ways of the Force. Only 5 days in, and my brain is becoming deep-fried in reports, stats, scheduling, staff, policies, procedures…I know I’ll be okay, though.

When I was a manager in Florida, I was replacing a woman who had passed away and taken all of her logins, passwords, and secrets to the grave; her assistant had also left when she learned she wasn’t getting the job, and other remaining staff had been moved somewhere else. Long story short, I walked into a department with no people, no logins, and no contacts on my first day. Seriously, my first day. I didn’t even know where the bathroom was yet.

When I told my mom about how much I’m learning on this job and how much information overload I’m getting, she reminded me, “Hey, at least you know where the bathroom is this time.”

Valid point, Mom. However…


I feel like these two cartoons really balances this post.

As I embark on this new adventure and the training entailed, it will probably mean less posting for awhile. Not to worry! While I may not have time for my weekly articles, I will certainly still post fun things on my FacebookTwitter or Instagram for all to enjoy. As always, any comments, questions, observations, etc are always welcome.

That’s all for this week folks, I hope to be writing again soon!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian



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Happy New Year From Brash Librarian!

Hey Friends!

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year’s weekend.

Anyone got resolutions? I’ve had a few the past couple of years that I’ve really enjoyed. Some of mine have been more of of the “I love me” variety: light more candles, take more bubble baths, do more things that are good to me. To quote my mom, “Are you taking care of Justin?”

What good things happened to you in 2015? Let’s look back at some of our 2015 highlights:

  • Oil prices fell to their lowest in almost a decade. The price of a gallon of gas went under $2 this year. According to NPR, the average American saved $700 on gas in 2015.
It's a start!

$700 in your pocket!

  • Tesla announced its plan to change how the world uses energy with the “powerwall home battery” which could eventually help end the energy crisis! I actually wrote a post about this when it first happened, which you can read here.

BAM! Solar power!

  • The Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is now legal across the United States. As a theater guy and fine arts major in college, I’ve made many gay/lesbian friends; I was proud to see their marriage photos all over Facebook. As President Obama said, “We can say, in no uncertain terms, that we have made our union a little more perfect.”
How some of my friends look in their engagement photos.

How some of my friends look in their engagement photos.

  • Myanmar held its first free election since 1990! CNBC said it was their “biggest stride yet in a journey to democracy from dictatorship.”

Imagine if America hadn’t had free elections in 25 years.

  • I announced my partnership with clothing retailer Combatant Gentleman! This is more of a personal achievement, but still pretty awesome to think there’s a clothier that gives librarian discounts. That’s right, entering BRASH15 at checkout will give you 15% off your entire order! You can read more about the partnership here.


  • The 2015 Climate Change Summit saw 195 countries endorse the Paris agreement to limit climate change, including new climate commitments and greener goals worldwide. I’m all for efforts to save the planet and keep the world from looking like Fallout 4 in the distant future.
It's a post-apocalyptic game, in case you weren't familiar.

It’s a post-apocalyptic game, in case you weren’t familiar.

  • The new Star Wars came out! Not exactly a monument of achievement, but still culturally important. To my library, it was important enough to build a display for it.
Oh yeah, and a Christmas tree or something.

Oh yeah, and a Christmas tree or something.

Got any moments or resolutions you want to share? Let me know on FacebookTwitter or Instagram and get them featured! That’s all for this week, make it a good first Monday of 2016!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Happy (Star Wars) Holidays!

Hey Friends!

Nothing super special this week – just wishing everyone a happy holiday, whichever holiday that may be. For many people, their Christmas present came early this year.

You know what I’m talking about: the new Star Wars movie.


Last week, The Force Awakens released into theaters with record-breaking sales. Buzzfeed did a great breakdown of the opening weekend, which you can read more about here.

box office 6-3

Courtesy of Buzzfeed News and Box Office Mojo

What does Star Wars have to do with libraries? It’s all about that marketing. If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s learning to promote and market ourselves on a budget. How do we do that on the cheap? Make a display from the materials you already have!

Force Awakens poster, some Star Wars books from our Sci-fi section, a few print-outs and DVD cases and…


Oh yeah, and a Christmas tree or something.

Oh yeah, and a Christmas tree or something.

You might call this riding the coat tails of trending pop culture, I call it a way to drive up checkouts. As long as everyone has Star Wars fever, why not give them the previous movies and books to check out? They get to know their favorite series better, you get increased checkout stats. Win-win!

Starwars 2n

That font is available free online, BTW.

Some libraries REALLY got into it. Check out this lightsaber battle in the library, courtesy of Invercargill City Libraries and Archives in New Zealand! Feel free to look them up on Facebook, too.

Did your library do anything for Star Wars? Let me know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram because I’d love to see it!

That’s all I have for this week, stay safe in this holiday season!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian





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Brash Jobs: Dressing for the Interview (Part 4)…With a Surprise Guest!

Hey Friends!

I told you last week to keep a lookout for this upcoming post, remember? This week is geared towards the men, but any ladies that want their man looking sharp can read on as well!

As I’ve been writing these articles and answering questions for people, I write about the questions I get most often – why answer the same question 40 times when I can put it on here and answer the whole world at once? Way easier for me, way faster response time for you. This week, I’m answering one of those questions: What do I wear for the interview?

Part One helped you start your strategy, Part Two demonstrated how to research your interviewer, and Part Three delivered the top 50 interview questions. This week, we’re discussing one of THE most important parts of the interview: The interview outfit.

It’s not about what I wear, it’s about me and my skills!


It sort of is…and sort of isn’t. Yes, you can probably speak clearly and concisely, but your outfit speaks for you before you even get a word out. The Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology released a study back in April that over 30% of hires are decided in the first 5 minutes; several managers and executives admit to making a decision in the first 90 seconds. That being said, you’d better have an outfit that says ,”Hey! You should hire me”. Don’t be that kid who shows up in cargo pants and wonders why he didn’t get the job.

In the current professional world, millennials are having a very hard time finding jobs. Over-qualified for this, under-qualified for that, entry level jobs with the “Experience Required” Catch-22, baby boomers who just won’t retire…the chips are stacked against us. It’s important to save every penny, especially when it comes to interview outfits. If you’re applying for just a page/book shelver position, you’ll probably want a pair of chinos, dress shirt and tie. For just about any other position, you’re going to need a suit. Of course, you’ll want something that’s versatile and makes a good first impression, but most importantly – affordable. Without the affordable bit, the whole thing comes apart.

Okay, suit. Got it. I’m set, right?

You might know generally what to wear, but I know from experience that the endless applications and stress from an impending interview can have you second-guessing yourself. Is there a certain style of suit I should get? What color suit should I get? Is there a “wrong” color to get? How do I even figure out my suit size?

What happens to you then? Your parents might tell you one thing, your friends might tell you another. After you read several bland “wear this, not that!” cookie cutter articles that aren’t very much help, information overload has you in retreat.

homer hiding1

How I feel when information overload happens.

Enter Combatant Gentlemen, your one-stop shopping for high quality AND affordable work clothes. Never heard of them? Check out this video.

These are the people who can step up your interview outfit game. I first heard about them in 2012 when they were first starting out, and they’ve only gotten better. As low as $140, they’ll beat out other brands.

combat gent 3

Whoa. Sooo…which suit should I get?

tony stark question

Like I said before, you’ll want something that’s versatile. Chances are good you’ll need a suit for other events in your life – weddings, parties, or just a night out. Every industry professional from Fortune 500 companies to that one guy you know on LinkedIn can agree on one thing: Darker colors are perceived as more powerful and confident. Dark grey, dark blue, these are the kind of colors you should be going for.

Charcoal and Navy

Meet Charcoal and Navy. Charcoal’s having way too much fun.

You might be thinking black, but that can be a little TOO powerful and honestly not as versatile. While it’s decent for weddings, a night out, Men in Black, mobsters and funerals, something like charcoal or navy will give you more bang for your buck.

What about pinstripes? Are those okay?


Subtle, but adds that extra something.

Sure! Pinstripes and solid colors are my favorites. If you can pull off  patterns like the windowpane or plaid style, I tip my cap to you. Pinstripe also has the advantage of making you look thinner and taller. (Vertical stripes are your friend.)

Hmm, most of their suits seem to be “slim fit”…I’m not a “slim fit” guy.

Not a problem, amigo. Most of their suits come in either slim fit or modern fit.

Modern fit

They’re even conveniently next to each other on the website.

Can’t decide? You can mix and match with a Modern jacket and Slim pants, or vice versa. If you want to really up the “wow” factor, many of their suits have a matching vest available. While I find vests are too dressy for interviews, I recommend them for everything else because of their style. For $20, your suit can go from “interview” to “dapper gentleman spy” in a flat second.


See what I mean?

Hmmm, I’ll think about it. What about a shirt?

For the interview? White, end of discussion. Let me explain why.

Libraries are liberal hubs of information, but can be rather conservative when it comes to fashion. White is by far the safest color – not only is it the easiest color to match with, but also the most trustworthy. IBM was famous for conducting studies back in the 50’s and 60’s on colors and styles that made their people look the most confident and trustworthy. Here’s a snippet on from Donald Egolf’s book The Nonverbal Factor:

ibm1ibm3You can read more about the study here.

If you want the biggest bang for your buck, I recommend their versatile Day to Night Shirt. The name pretty much explains itself, but I’ll go a step further and personally vouch for it. (It fits like a glove, by the way!)

Pick up this bad boy here.

Pick up this bad boy here.

Once you actually have the job, feel free to wear other colors.

Oh! I also need a tie.

Ah, I’m glad you brought that up. Again, librarians – reserved, traditional, you know how it is by now. I’ll make this one quick:

  • DON’T do ties that are completely solid with no pattern. This is more reserved for black tie events, cocktail parties, weddings, prom, the mafia, and Magic Mike 3.

Not today! Wear it to the party after.

  • Stripes and patterns are good, but keep it simple. If you go with some crazy obnoxious pattern, they will spend the entire time staring at your tie instead of you.
  • If you want to go bold, studies show red is seen as powerful and confident. If you want to go more reserved, similar studies agree that blue is the safest color.
  • There’s many options out there: slim ties, wide ties, knit ties….I usually stick with a regular tie; Wider ties feel very 70’s to me and I personally save slim ties for more casual occasions, but it’s really up to you. Whatever your style may be, you can find a sweet tie right here.
I think this would be my top choice.

I think this would be my top choice.

Okay, got my stuff picked out. What about after the interview?

If you recall that video from above, Combatant Gentlemen also deals in:

Bottom line, you have day-to-day clothes available for after you get the job.

Traveling far for your interview? They’ve also just unveiled The Weekender, a leather garment bag/duffel bag hybrid. It lets you pack like a regular duffel bag, but packs your suit like a traditional suit bag so it stays looking good. It’s not available until January, you can learn more about it (or pre-order it) here.

Why do I care where you shop? Because where you shop cares about you.

When I first started writing this article, I reached out to Sharan Keswani, Director of Marketing and Creative Content for Combatant Gentleman. I explained to her who I am, what I write about, and asked for her permission to write about CG and use some of their photos for my article; I told her that I’m a huge fan of their professional wear and that I wanted to make them the go-to clothing for library professionals. Not only did Sharan give me her blessing, but she even gave me a special offer for all of you: 15% of your entire order by entering the code “BRASH15” at checkout. Let me repeat that, because it sounds vaguely important:

15% off your entire order, just by entering “BRASH15” at checkout.

In other words, Sharan wants to make Combatant Gentlemen the gold standard for young men in the library industry, and she’s investing 15% in your success. And look at that…just in time for the holidays.



I finally got stuff! Now what?

That’s great! Now a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way:

Suit up, then suit down.

After you wear your suit, IMMEDIATELY take it off when you get home. The longer you’re in that suit, the more wrinkles and stains that can happen. It seems pretty common sense, but some people are all hopped up on that post-interview adrenaline high and forget they’re sweating into their suit. If you’re job hunting and on a tight budget, you’ll want this thing to last as long as possible between dry cleanings.

Get yourself some vodka.

This is a little trick I learned in theater…stage companies, rather than wash all the (often delicate) costumes of the entire cast, will hose them down with a spray bottle filled with vodka and water, then leave them overnight. The alcohol will kill any odor-causing bacteria! Aim for about 1/2 or 3/4 vodka in your bottle, turn your jacket inside out, spritz it, turn it back out and hang it up.

Skype interview? Wear the whole suit.

I’m serious. Belt, shoes, the works…EVEN the cologne, guys.

Even the cologne? You’re kidding, Justin. They can’t even smell me!

You’re right, they can’t smell it – but you can. If you want to nail that interview, you need to look confident, sound confident, smell confident…take every advantage possible to get that job. If you’re suited up from top to bottom, you feel in control. Don’t forget the practical part: it’s going to look bad if you need to stand up or adjust something and they see you’re just wearing a suit jacket, shirt, tie and pajamas.

See that guy? Don't do that.

See, kids? Don’t do that.

Bottom line, the more things you can do to feel confident, the more you will be confident.

Keep a lint roller around.

I’m pretty sure this speaks for itself. It’s like $1.50 at Target, there’s no reason to skimp on it.

That’s all for this weekend, gentlemen! Before you go, make sure to follow CG on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestInstagram and their YouTube channel. If you have any questions, ask! The live support on their website is top notch and they usually answer questions on Facebook within the hour, if not within minutes. (I know because I’ve used both.)

Now take your 15% discount and invest in yourself this holiday season!


Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian


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Black Friday and Librarians

Hey Friends!

I know, it’s been a week or three since last you heard from me. Thanksgiving/Christmas stuff has invaded the library – lots of displays to build and things to make! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving filled with good times and even better food. My coworker brought peanut brittle to the break room last Monday, and I nearly went crazy. That stuff is like crack in a Ziploc bag, I couldn’t stop myself.


This is how peanut brittle makes me feel.

So after you guys had food, I imagine some of you went out shopping for Black Friday, Cyber Monday or something in between. Anyone can tell you that when it comes to navigating the high seas of crazy shoppers, research is key. If you have a laid out plan of where to find the best deals and how to approach them, then you’ve won half the battle. Who’s the best at finding things and compiling data?

Yup, it’s us.

I was inspired to write this post when my brother asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I told him anything he gets is fine by me.

“I’m going to be honest, dude – I really have no idea what you have and don’t have, want or need. Can you just make me a bullet point list? Arranged by price, if you can.”

Well, doesn’t that bring out the Christmas cheer!


While a little crass, I have to admit that I enjoyed making the list, but for the reasons you wouldn’t expect. It’s nice to know that I was getting something I wanted, but it was also an opportunity to do my librarian research thing to find all the different prices for products. Bottom line? I learned I could manipulate the list in any way I wanted.

Oh, Item A costs $49 but is on sale exclusively at Target for $25? Item B is $40 regularly, but I found a coupon that brings it to $15…to give the coupon or not…How high or low do I want Item B on the list? I AM A MADMAN!

Ultimately, my conscience got the better of me and listed out all lowest prices and coupons available. Sure, shaping the list as I see fit is great and all, but I don’t want my brother to shell out an extra $30 he could have put elsewhere just because I felt like it.

(You’re welcome, Alex.)

However, I came up with an alternative. I picked about ten items ranging from about $10 to $60 to give him some options, then I coded in all my research to provide him the most accurate list possible! The list coding was pretty basic:

  • Items in italics were the things I was hoping for most. I picked three items.
  • Items in bold were the items that were specifically Black Friday specials (accompanied by where to get it at the lowest price)
  • Items in bold italics were the best of both!

I also learned while researching my list that one of the items I wanted got some horrible 1 star ratings on Amazon. When an item gets called, “not as advertised, what a complete ripoff” by about 1300 people, it’s time to re-evaluate. Upon closer inspection, they were right – it was everything I didn’t want in a product. Because of my research, I saved him money and myself future hassle/disappointment. Talk about a bullet dodged, right?

A visual representation of me avoiding that gift.

A visual representation of my research.

“Wow, I didn’t know librarians looked up prices and deals…I thought they just did stuff like research and reference.”

Yes, we do research and references…ON PRICES. Librarians ain’t made of money, we are thrifty and frugal! I personally like to call myself a coupon commando, mostly because alliteration is addictive. My brash sidekick Katy waaay better than me, that girl knows how to make a deal. $3.99, you say? She’s probably got a gift code for 30% off, a $5.00 discount coupon, and a BOGO voucher she found online.

The moral of this story…make friends with a librarian before Thanksgiving next year. Actually, the sooner the better if possible; we can find deals on stuff all year.


You all need to read next week’s post. Next week, I will have a special guest who will help you do some shopping, up your interview game, and kick off a new you that is ready for the library world. In the meantime, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for exclusives found nowhere else!


Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: Google’s 5 Traits For Success

Hey Friends!

In the information world, we’re often told that reference and providing information is happening less and less in the library because of Google. True, finding things is easier than ever, but as author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” However, that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from Google; they’re still the closest thing to a librarian outside the library, and are often seen as innovators in technology and employee management.

Just a day or two ago, Google released their findings on Huffington Post about a study consisting of “more than 200 interviews conducted over the past two years with Google employees, plus an analysis of various attributes and skills on different teams at the company.” This is part of Google’s new shared learning website, re:Work, which is dedicated to sharing their secrets and strategies for making the happiest and most productive work force. As a librarian, I really appreciate their open access of information.

Google’s study focused mainly on teams – what makes them work, what makes them fall apart, etc. Notre Dame’s business school had a similar study that monitored six different teams (all at different companies) and concluded that work groups do better when members are motivated to help each other. Makes sense to me…If I like my coworkers and want to help them, then I’ll probably work harder on that project.

While these were meant for businesses, I think all these traits apply to library professionals as well. You have a primary team (your department) and secondary teams (other departments) which you work with to make the library work; if you don’t have a good support network with these five traits, then your group might not be at its best:

google traits

I think these can all apply to an individual as well, particularly number one. Psychological safety is not only necessary to your team, but to each of us as individuals. I’ve worked for tyrants where “do this or you’re fired” was the only motivation I and my team got – I hated that job because I was constantly worried about losing my job. Even if a boss just jokes about firing you, it can really mess with your head. Me losing my job, my source of income, my ability to pay for my rent is funny to you? I’m single with no kids, it must be 10 times as terrifying when you have to worry your house/bills/car/wife/kids are in constant jeopardy. No, NOT funny.

Right now, I’m in the best job I’ve ever had and one of the main reasons is because I feel very secure in my job. My boss and my director are very nice and laid back people who don’t use threats of firing me to get the job done – not only does that make me more loyal and motivated, it also helps me sleep better. I’ll admit, I occasionally get PTSD  “oh no, they’re about to fire me” flashbacks when I get called into somebody’s office. So far, it’s been all positive – ask me questions, give me assignments, things like that. Looking back, I can definitely say feeling secure in my job makes me feel more dependable.

Whether it’s confidence or “fake it till you make it”, being dependable makes for a better team worker. When I join a team for something and I feel competent and dependable, I feel like I’m able to communicate more clearly. You can’t have that structure and clarity without clear communication, right?

As far as meaning  and impact go, I’d say those are the easiest ones. We work in libraries! We’re helping children learn to read and develop, teaching young readers to become adult readers, helping turn the jobless into employed citizens, helping people of all ages better understand technology, or even just helping find a book. I see the meaning in what I do every day, and I see the impact I make in somebody’s life. I’ve helped a little girl become a voracious reader, I helped an old man get a Facebook account and see his grandkids for the first time in years; if you don’t find some meaning or don’t see any impact working in the library, then I don’t know where you find it.

That’s all I have this week folks. How do you feel at your library? Do you think you guys have a solid team? Let me know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram because I’d love to hear them!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian



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