It’s Friday. Read A Book!

Hey Friends!

So we’re almost through the second month of this new year…how are you doing with your resolutions? If you’re like me, you’re all about trying to stay on top of life while improving yourself at the same time. For me, trying to read more books has been a good resolution but it can be really difficult if you’re a librarian. I remember when I was a bartender, and the last thing I wanted to do was drink.

“Hey Justin, let’s all go grab a beer!”

“DON’T MAKE ME TAKE MY WORK HOME WITH ME!”

I think librarians can sometimes feel the same way. Check books in, check books out, look up books, shelve books…when you get home, even thinking about a book might be the last thing you want to do. Still, I press on and try to grab myself another book. Maybe it’s just the winter weather. Do the winter blues have you down, too?

Author and philosopher Alain de Botton might have something that can help: bibliotherapy! According to Big Think’s Jason Gots, de Botton’s  “program matches individuals struggling in any aspect of their lives with a list of books hand-selected to help them through tough times…You get your reading list after an initial consultation with a bibliotherapist in which you discuss your life, your reading history, and your problems.” Buzzfeed’s 28 reasons to stay inside with a book will warm you as well!

While books should in no way be a substitute for therapy or doctor-prescribed medication, reading was shown to have similar anxiety-reduction benefits to enjoy a cup of tea or going for a relaxing walk, diminishing subjects’ levels of anxiety up to 68 percent. As the Guardian’s Wayne Gooderham notes in an essay about how Saul Bellow’s Herzog helped him fight depression, it’s because great books “[demand] your full attention and focuses your mind so that you are forced to concentrate completely on the novel.” Reading can help us not only leave our own problems and lives for a moment, but also gain new perspective on them. Saul Bellow just might save your life!

Some other good reasons to read:

Reading makes you a better lover

Researchers at Harvard Medical School conducted a relationship study of 156 couples who had been together around three and a half years (on average). The greatest predictors of lasting relationships? Not how much sex you have. Not how often you argue about money, either. Couples who were the happiest were those who were most supportive and empathetic of each other. Open access magazine PLOS One published a journal that reported, “experiments showed that empathy was influenced over a period of one week for people who read a fictional story, but only when they were emotionally transported into the story.”

Don’t have a lover? Don’t worry, Marie Claire says intelligence is one of the top things we  look for in a mate. It’s also reported that smart men to read are more virile. Why do you think Hot Guys Reading Books is so popular. BECAUSE SCIENCE!

Reading will make you sharper

In a recent neurology study, their findings read:

“294 participants who died at an average age of 89, found that those who engaged in mentally stimulating activities (such as reading) earlier and later on in life experienced slower memory decline compared to those who didn’t. In particular, people who exercised their minds later in life had a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers with average mental activity.”

It helps fight Alzheimer’s, too!

Reading will help you sleep

Many sleep researchers recommend having a bedtime routine to get you ready for sleep – which includes reading. BUT WAIT! Make sure it’s an old-fashioned book, as tablets and e-readers can actually hinder your sleep.

What books are you currently reading? Comment below if you’re reading one now or want to recommend one! That’s all I have this Friday. Have a great weekend!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Restoring Your Faith In Humanity, Walmart Style

Hey Friends!

I had a different post this week, but I couldn’t resist keeping everyone up on current events and spreading library-related joy! You might have heard in the news yesterday that Walmart has announced to raise their wages this coming April, with further raises coming in 2016. Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon announced a bold new initiative on pay and training for U.S. associates. In his announcement via Business Wire:

Approximately 500,000 full-time and part-time associates at Walmart U.S. stores and Sam’s Clubs will receive pay raises in the first half of the current fiscal year. Current and future associates will benefit from this initiative, which ensures that Walmart hourly associates earn at least $1.75 above today’s federal minimum wage, or $9.00 per hour, in April. The following year, by Feb. 1, 2016, current associates will earn at least $10.00 per hour.

Unless I got my math wrong, that’s nearly a 24% raise in April and a 38% raise come February 2016.

It's a start!
It’s a start!

According to Huffpost, “the new wage floors will apply to current employees. New hires next year will be earning at least $9, but will be bumped up to at least $10 per hour after roughly six months of training.” Way to go, Walmart! Most business analysts and unions would say you were dragged kicking and screaming, but I’m just glad you got with the program.

“But Justin, what does this have to do with libraries?”

I’m getting there! Many of you might have read about Walmart’s wage increase, but I’ll bet many of you didn’t know that there is a WALMART LIBRARY.

What it looked like pre-library.
What it looked like pre-library.

That’s right. After a Walmart in McAllen, TX, closed their doors, they left 124,500 square feet to the city. Instead of trying to bring in another conglomerate, corporation or factory, the city of McAllen opted to turn the building INTO A LIBRARY! This ain’t just another library, either. Let me hit you with a few facts about the McAllen Public Library:

Awesome.
Awesome.
I like the children doors!
I like the children doors!
Cool
Sweet color palette, it’s no wonder they won awards for it!
Even the outside gets decorated!
Even the outside gets decorated!

I’d say it’s a pretty good week for Walmart, wouldn’t you? I’d say my faith in humanity/Walmart has been restored just a little bit.

I hope this got everyone’s weekend off to a good start. Have a great weekend!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: Preparing for the Job Hunt and Interview (Part 1)

Hey, job seekers!

As my Brash Jobs series has started to grow, I’ve gotten some interview questions over the last few weeks from people who are nervous about the interview process. Maybe you’re new to the library field and not sure what they’ll ask, maybe it’s your first job in general, or you could just be seasoned and looking to brush up. Regardless, everyone wants to have a solid interview strategy.

“But Justin, I’m scared!”

GOOD! That means you care, but don’t let that scare you too much. Preparation is the greatest weapon you have to defeating your fear. No, really. Afraid of sharks? TNT and shark cages. Afraid of the dark? Dual flashlights and spare batteries. Afraid to fight? Training montage. Afraid of clowns? Sorry, there’s no hope for you. Preparing ahead of time will help you face your fears. In other words, become the Batman of interviewing.

The international mascot for overcoming fears, everyone.

The international mascot for overcoming fears, everyone.

Batman is the most prepared of them all, and it’s not just the gadgets. Before he even puts on the cape, Batman knows what villain he’s up against, their weakness, their psychology…In short, he’s got the tools AND he’s inside their head – which is what we’re going to do here.

The primary key to any job interview is to have a strategy. The guy who wings it rarely gets the job.

“But Justin, my friend winged an interview with [insert place] and they got the job!”

Oh, yeah? Let me explain two reasons why:

  •   Your friend is lying to you. Sorry. Chances are they were really nervous and didn’t want you to know how nervous they really were while prepping for the interview. We’re all guilty of that, so don’t feel bad about it.
  • Your friend got really lucky, and luck doesn’t last. If they winged that, they’ll probably wing things at work, too. In other words, your friend won’t have that job for long.

“But Justin, I’m great at interviewing!”

Yeah, you and everyone else. Everyone thinks they’re a great writer, a hilarious comedian, a safe driver, and probably have the most brilliant baby that’s ever been born. Don’t fall for this – everyone is a karate master until they take a punch to the face. Be real with yourself and figure out what are your strengths and weaknesses. Preparation is the single greatest advantage you have, use it!

You’d be surprised how little planning and plotting people actually do prior to their interview. Seriously, most people rehearse their voicemail greeting more than they rehearse what they’re going to say and do during the interview. Don’t be that person. Plan!

What do I mean by a plan? I mean researching who you’re going to interview with and getting an idea of who, what, and even why they are if you can. Go on their website and look for things of interest you’d like to know more about. (Think like Batman building a dossier on a villain.) A few questions to help guide you:

  • What do they need? Research their preferences
  • How do I meet those needs? We call this a value proposition
  • What specific skills does the job ask for?
  • Do I fit into their corporate culture?

More or less, find out what “rings their bell”.

The interview is when you explain how your background will help you solve their problems, why you are going to fit in well with their corporate culture, and how you plan to progress in their organization.

Want to learn how and what to look for? Stay tuned for part 2!

 

As always, feel free to comment below or on the Facebook page. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Brash Librarian, Justin Brasher

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What Library School DOESN’T Teach You, Part 2: The Hardest Part of The Library Job

Hey Friends!

If you’ve worked in a library setting or read my previous post on what they don’t teach you in library school, then you know that library school doesn’t fully prepare you for what you face in the library work place. After briefly covering the strange and enigmatic people known as patrons, I’ve gotten some requests to expound a bit more on the daily interactions with said patrons. Any seasoned library can tell you dealing with patrons is often the most challenging part of the job – so let’s talk about the customer service aspect.

Customer Service (AKA Dealing with Angry Patrons)

Ah, here comes another group of people who want to ban 50 Shades of Grey.

Ah, here comes another group of people who want to ban 50 Shades of Grey and Harry Potter.

In most jobs now, customer service is a necessity. Libraries, schools, hospitals, banks, stores, and don’t even get me started on hospitals and the hospitality industry in general. Anyone who works with the public will tell you that you can’t please everyone. Growing up, I really wanted to be liked by everyone – that home-grown, all-American Captain America type that makes people say, “Golly, he sure is swell!”. Unfortunately, I had to swallow some very bitter truths about customer service and people in general:

  1. You will never please everyone, now matter what you do.
  2. You will never be liked by everyone, now matter what you say or do.

I remember my first job working in movie theaters when I was in high school. I had one co-worker, despite not knowing me at all, hated me. Always sarcastic, snarky, and just plain rude. I would bring donuts and stuff for the whole team, and she would never eat anything. I finally got fed up one night and point blank asked her:

“Did I do something to wrong you or make you upset?”

“Not at all, why?”

“Did I do anything at all that caused a problem with you?”

“Nope. Why do you ask?”

“Then seriously – what is your problem with me?”

She casually shrugged.

“…I don’t know. I just don’t like you.”

Now just picture that, but in a library with 100 patrons.

AND THEIR CHILDREN.

Screaming Children

THIS. ALL THE TIME.

Depending on the day and time, yes.

Summer time is a peak time for kids, turning the local library into “running and screaming kid” central. Having fun while attending a program or looking for a book, I get; Sprinting full speed, yelling, and climbing on furniture, not so much.

If you work in a public library, you’ve probably dealt with screaming children at some point. Me personally, I have no problem with them for the most part – after three nephews, I’ve kinda learned to tune crying children out. However, I know patrons can take it personally when a baby is screaming murder and crying its eyes out and the parents are doing nothing about it.

Sadly, the worst part is often the parent or parents who don’t control their children. They’re usually Facebooking or playing on their phone while their kid is climbing on furniture or knocking things over. When said child finally falls and hurt themselves, there are some parents who will point the finger at librarians for not doing anything.

Ma’am, we’re librarians. We’re not daycare. Try watching your child instead of looking for hookups on Craigslist. (Yes, I saw you.)

Many libraries now have a “no-touch” policy, i.e. where employees are not allowed to touch a patron or child in any way, shape or form. I remember a case a few years ago where a librarian caught a child falling and saved him from slamming his skull into the corner of a table. Rather than thank them, the parents of this child SUED that library for laying hands on their child.

Librarians, what gets your goat the most?

 

Feel free to comment below or on my Facebook page if you haven’t already joined!

That’s what I’ve got for this week, stay tuned for the next episode!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Love Books? Love The Art of Perception? Read On!

Hey Friends!

I have some exciting news if you’re into making yourself more observant and aware of yourself and daily surroundings. Those of you who have followed me for a skip and jump may recall me writing about Amy Herman, most famously known for her Art of Perception series and her website where she teaches others how to become more perceptive – or as I like calling it, “How to be Sherlock Holmes”. If you have no idea who or what I’m talking about, you can read my original post about her or you can watch the video below.

Are we all caught up on who Amy is and how awesome she is? Sweet.

So the rumor mill has been cranking out word that an Art of Perception book was on the horizon. I’ve only heard just whispers here and there, but paid no attention to it; Amy would let me know when something concrete was happening. True to form, I heard from Amy that there’s a new book coming in October that I should pre-order.

Oh wait – HER BOOK!

index

“Could looking at Monet’s water lily paintings save your company millions? Could studying Edward Hopper’s Automat alert you to symptoms of your child’s ADD or help identify the pickpocket who just lifted your wallet?

Art historian Amy Herman has trained experts from many fields in the art of perception. By showing people how to look closely at extraordinary works of art, she enables them to see more clearly, analyze more intelligently, and use seemingly hidden clues to better understand any situation. She has spent over a decade teaching doctors to pay attention to patients instead of their charts, helping police officers separate facts from opinions when describing a suspect, and training professionals from a wide array of fields, including the FBI, the State Department, and the military, to recognize the most pertinent and useful information. Her lessons highlight far more than the physical objects you may be missing; they teach you to uncover the hidden talents of new employees, and to reduce costly miscommunication among members of a team.

Whether you’re an executive who wants to run your company more effectively, a parent who wants to better understand your child, or simply anyone who wants to perceive any situation more clearly, you will see what matters most in a whole new light.”

OH SNAP.

OH SNAP.

Yup, I’d say it’s time to pre-order my copy. Hey, you should get on Amazon and get yourselves a copy, too! Librarians, don’t forget to order a copy for your library!

Don’t forget, library directors: If you like her book, she can come to your library and give a seminar as well!

($100 says she’ll sign your book, too.)

That’s all for this week, but don’t worry – I have another pretty awesome book to talk about in the future. I’m starting to gear up for some awesome stuff now that I don’t have the “sickies” from last week!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Out Sick This Week

Hey Friends!

Sorry, no major ultra-cool-sweet-awesome rad post this week. As much as I wanted to finish my next Brash Jobs post, I just couldn’t. Sadly, my sweetie came down with the flu during the MLK weekend and I spent most of my weekend helping her rest up and recover.

And that’s when I woke up with a cough. NOOOOO.

How I feel after that first cough.

How I feel after that first cough. Did anyone else like this movie?

Good news: I went to the doctor and tested negative for the flu, but I’m on Tamiflu as a preventative just in case!

Bad news: It’s hard to sleep during a coughing fit. Don’t worry! I’m not contagious and I’m starting to feel better. However, less sleep = less time/energy = substandard posts.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, I suppose. In this field, you run into all kinds of people from all over the area who carry all kinds of germs. Libraries serve as a community hub, and large groups of people will always pass around what my teaching friends call “the crud”.

(Pretty much every school teacher ever can relate to this one.)

But there’s a bright side – this is another one of those times I’m glad I work in libraries! As far as I can surmise, my daily exposure to the library environment has helped keep my immune system on its toes and helped fight off the flu. Had I been working a more private job in an environment that didn’t temper my immune system, I might have the aches, pains, fever, chills and everything else my sweetie caught right now.

In other words, libraries are good for you – and not just to help you learn.

I WAS TEMPERED IN THE STACKS

I WAS TEMPERED IN THE STACKS

 

It’s now the weekend, so I intend to rest up to 100% and really get going on next week’s post!

Stay healthy this flu season,

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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We are all Charlie, we are all Brash

Hey everyone,

My apologies for the lack of post this past week – I’ve been reflecting on the recent events at Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters.

For those who may not be acquainted with the news, the French satirical newspaper known for their controversial cartoons, Charlie Hebdo (The Weekly Charlie), sustained a terrorist attack in Paris on Wednesday of last week. Two gunmen – brothers Chérif and Saïd Kouachi – dressed in black and wearing bulletproof vests forced their way in and executed the publication’s editor, four cartoonists, other staff journalists, a security guard, a guest and a police officer while escaping, totaling 12 dead, another 11 wounded. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins told CNN that gunmen claimed they were avenging the Prophet Mohammed and shouted “Allahu akbar,” which translates to “God is great”. After a gas station robbery and a manhunt over the following days, the Kouachi brothers were shot and killed.

These kind of attacks are meant to intimidate people and scare writers into self-censorship, lest they be shot as well; however, this isn’t the first time Charlie Hebdo has dealt with terrorists. While their Wikipedia stub describes Charlie Hebdo as “Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as strongly anti-racist and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, religion (Catholicism,Islam, Judaism), politics, culture, etc,” I describe them as writers who exemplify the need for  freedom of the press and the right to put things under the magnifying glass. Sure, their cartoons were often classified as extreme, over-the-top, crude, distasteful or even blasphemous (depending on your religion), but that doesn’t mean that they should be censored.

(More importantly, they shouldn’t have been killed over it.)

My point in all of this is that regardless of where we come from in this world, we all deserve freedom to information to better ourselves and our lives. Whether you’re trying to find a job, learning Skype so you can see your grandchildren, just learning E-books for pleasure reading or reading Charlie Hebdo, we all should have the right to learn and become more than what we are now. Rather, we have the right to learn and become better without fear and censorship.

Unfortunately, many countries are considering going the opposite way and taking a censorship-style approach; the New York Times reported that some European politicians are proposing “the kind of Internet censorship and surveillance that would do little to protect their citizens but do a lot to infringe on civil liberties…calling on Internet service providers to identify and take down online content ‘aims to incite hatred and terror’.” I don’t believe a rousing game of “let’s censor the internet!” is the way to go either. This is a very slippery slope into an eventual online police-state that was half Patriot Act, half SOPA and strip our freedom of information.

In the middle ground of reason, Pope Francis said last week that free speech is not only a fundamental human right, but a duty to speak one’s mind for the sake of the common good. However, there are limits to freedom of speech, especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith. Francis told ABC news, “If my good friend [Dr. Gasbarri] says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch…It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” Disclaimer: Francis didn’t mean the attack on Charlie Hebdo was justified but that a reaction of any degree could be expected, freedom of speech or not.

We are very blessed in America to have the right of free speech protected by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Thankfully, France has the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, a document passed in 1789 which takes from our American constitution in some regards, particularly article 11:

“The free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man: any citizen thus may speak, write, print freely, save [if it is necessary] to respond to the abuse of this liberty, in the cases determined by the law.”

Even with these rights set in stone, there are still people out there who would try to limit those rights and censor what they didn’t agree with, regardless of what havoc is incurred.

Librarians, this attack was not just an attack on a French newspaper; it was a fundamental  attack on rights, values, thoughts, the exchange of information and the freedom of that information. This week and for the times to come, we librarians are all Charlie.

Sorry for such a serious post, guys. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to my lighter self this coming week!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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