I Did Something I Thought I’d Never Do.

Hey Friends!

So lately, I’ve been trying to expand my social media presence when I have the time. At the moment, I have my blog (which you’re reading now!), my Facebook page (which you should totally be part of!), and my Instagram (which will make you laugh!). I’ll be honest, I first joined Instagram to win a prize at the FLA conference in 2014 and have been doing it ever since.

Recently, I’ve been working with my publicist to step it up and get even more involved; I’m not saying I want to be a household name in the library industry, but I certainly wouldn’t refuse it. Of all the ideas we’ve been trying, there’s one that I keep repeatedly shooting down. That’s right: joining Twitter.

I’m not the biggest fan of Twitter, “tweeting”, hashtagging anything, etc…I think it was because I was forced to join for a film studies class back in undergrad when it was more clunky; I quit Twitter when the class was over and haven’t been back to it since. I’ve railed against it since then, often mocking the Kardashian-esque #OMG #LOL #IDKMYBFFJILL drivel on most Twitter accounts. Thankfully, I have a great publicist who sat me down and bluntly hit me over the head: “Justin, you already have a WordPress, Instagram, and Facebook…The Brash Librarian needs Twitter.

Alright…but if I have a Twitter, I’m going to tweet about the important stuff that matters!

Well, mostly important stuff! Feel free to follow or tweet me at “brashlibrarian”

(I still feel weird saying “tweet me”.)

 

That’s all for this week, hope to hear from a few of you!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Librarian Celebrates Three Years!

Hey Friends!

It’s been three years since my first post came out on April 4th, 2012. Wow, what a ride it’s been! Let’s recap some of the coolest parts in our last three years:

I flew a plane.

Terrifying, but awesome.

Terrifying, but awesome.

When you enter the library field, you get to know the Friends of the Library (FOL) members…sometimes, one of them will have a plane and let you fly it.

I ran my first race with my best friend, Dylan.

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Shortly after, Dylan was diagnosed with cancer. He beat it down and has been cancer-free for almost two years!

I met my friend/library school mentor/brash sidekick Katy!

This girl is awesome, I’ve learned alot from her.

Katy has given me advice on countless topics over the years and has occasionally had to hit me over the head. Don’t worry, I deserved it.

I got to do a comedy event with the very talented Meredith Myers, AKA The Stand-up Librarian.

And I got to visit my friend, Amy!

And I got to visit my friend, Amy!

There was gingerbread, singing, dancing, and lots of other good stuff. Meredith and I met at a Florida Library Association (FLA) conference and had wanted to do a project together for awhile. I’m looking forward to doing another project some day!

I helped raise funds for FSU’s School of Library Science.

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Selling off a chocolate basket I won to raise funds with Dean Dennis. We raised $232!

I had the pleasure of being approached by my friend/other mentor/super fan, MJ to help out with the CCI Goldstein Endowed Scholarship Fund. This was my first time doing fundraising and I was glad I could help out. If you’d still like to give money, you can donate here.

I became a trivia host at my favorite hang out.

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Fellow hosts, friends, and my blonde roomie Caitlin!

Yeah, this isn’t a super milestone, but it was my one weekly “get out of the house” ritual during grad school. I love trivia and I love learning, so there’s nothing better than to write trivia and get people to learn what you love!

I graduated from FSU’s School of Library Science.

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Official and everything!

I became Technical Services Manager at Putnam County Library System.

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A clipping from the local newspaper about one of my computer classes.

I had the pleasure of working as their Technical Services and Social Media Marketing Manager and learned more than I could have ever hoped.

I moved to Texas.

...Well then.

…Well then.

I moved to Houston for a new job (and pretty girl) in August of last year and I’ve enjoyed my time here thus far!

 

That’s all for this week, folks! I hope you enjoyed the highlights with me!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

 

 

 

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This Will Be My Last Post…Brash Librarian is Closing Its Doors.

Did I fool you? Probably not, but it’s still fun to try! Now that I’ve given you a morning jolt, you’ll be on edge and distrustful of all people for the rest of the day. If you haven’t gotten ready for it yet, there’s plenty of time to still get your friends and coworkers with 15 different ideas from last week’s post. Make it a fun and safe April Fool’s Day!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Ready for April Fools? 15 Ways to Get Ready

Hey Friends!

So April is right around the corner, and that means a good joke or two on April Fools Day! While there are a plethora of jokes and pranks out there, many are crude, mean, inappropriate, dangerous take lots of planning or are just a mess to clean up; I intend to list a few that are silly, clean, safe, require some or no planning and don’t make too much of a mess. Some you’ve probably heard of or done, some you maybe haven’t, but we all know some of these are just timeless classics. Put your trickster hats on and engage in some office hi-jinks!

1. Ye Olde “Post-it note under the mouse” Trick

The Mouse Troll

One guy puts photos of Nicolas Cage.

The easiest, cheapest and safest of them all! Stick under the mouse and watch them go crazy. If your work place is stingy on the Post-its, paper and tape will do just fine.

2. Spill “milk” on your coworker’s stuff.

Spill "milk" all over your kid's most prized possession.

This mess-free mess via Instructables is made from soap and glue, and won’t actually damage anything.

3. Or spill nail polish on a coworker’s stuff.

Spilled Nail Polish

It takes about 2 days to make, get started here!

4. Or spill juice on a coworker’s stuff. (Spill SOMETHING.)

People really love spilling stuff, apparently. Learn how to do this one here.

5. Keep a severed head in the fridge.

Picture of head in a jar prank

Absolutely crazy, only do this with coworkers you trust. Or on Halloween. Get your head rolling here.

6. Superglue a coin to the ground.

Superglue a couple coins to the ground outside.

If you work near a window and can see the sidewalk or parking lot, this could be fun watching kids try to get it.

7. Print out a scary picture and hide it in a drawer.

Doo-doo-doo, just let me grab a pen from OHMYGODWHATISTHAT

What if you opened your desk drawer for a pen and saw this?

8. THIS.

funny dollar book troll face

Those folks over at Metapicture are diabolical.

9. Buy everyone in the office an eye pad.

Tell your kid you bought them an iPad.

“Did you think I said iPad? Oh, you silly goose!”

10. Bring in brownies.

Tell your kids you’ve baked them a pan of brownies.

“Oh no, just a few brown E’s!”

People will hate you for this one. Nobody likes being cheated out of brownies.

11. Coat a soap bar in nail polish so it won’t lather.

I’ll admit, this one was for me. Most work places do the soap dispensers now, but that won’t stop me from doing this at home!

12. When at lunch, rush in and ask what year it is. Shout “it worked!” when they respond.

Those Whatburger people won’t know what hit ’em.

13. Swap out foods/drinks of their original containers to scare people.

Some great examples include:

  • Eating vanilla pudding out of a mayo jar
  • Drinking Gatorade from a Windex bottle
  • Eating Frosting from a tooth paste tube
  • Gulp down some strawberry milk from a Pepto-Bismol bottle
  • Drink water from a vodka bottle (not recommended for work!)
  • Pop Tic-tacs mints from an aspirin bottle
  • Eat white chocolate from a deodorant stick
  • Chug grape juice from a Listerine bottle
  • Slowly drink apple juice from a syrup bottle

If you do any of these, make sure you rinse out the container REALLY well!

14. Anything involving Jell-O.

Serve up a glass of juice that is really Jell-O.

Put a coworker’s stapler in it or fill a glass and let them try to drink from it – you can’t go wrong with Jell-O! Find more here.

15. Fake animals.

Fake anything is good this time of year. Fake bugs, fake snakes and other fake scary things are great to spread around the library. However, keep it in employee areas…the last thing you want is a patron running out screaming you have a spider infestation. Otherwise, go crazy! Coworker’s keyboard, desk drawer, mail box, break room…possibilities are endless.

Which ones will you use? Got any other crazy ones you’d like to share? Post your thoughts below or on the Facebook page! Happy April Fool’s, everyone!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Do you like Carnivals?

Hey Friends!

Sorry, no heavy and in-depth post this week…my library has been busy gearing up for a carnival this Saturday! We’ve been putting this thing together for months for getting kids into reading during spring break. (It also coincides with our book sale!)

As such, I haven’t had much time this week for a post. Just a quick sneak peak at some things I’ve been working on if you haven’t been following my Facebook page:

Regular Carnival games like Big Mouth will be attendance!

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Big Mouth: Throw the tennis ball through the hole and win!

 

All of our games were designed, cut, painted and crafted by library staff. All the nails in our Plinko board were put in by yours truly!

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176 nails. WHOO-EEE, is my hammer arm tired!

Other games included will be picking out rubber ducks for prizes, ring toss, football throw, penny drop, fishing for prizes and more – 11 games total.

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I think it’s pretty good at this point.

We even made a display with mini versions of our games!

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Very adorable!

It’s all been built and is ready to go – don’t worry, I’ll get pics of all the games now that they’re done. If I’m lucky, I’ll get some pics of me doing my MAGIC SHOW!

Yup, I’m doing a magic show with all kinds of crowd pleasing tricks. For this show I will:

  • Freeze water instantly!
  • Make things levitate!
  • Make things teleport
  • Make rabbits vanish! (It’s only paper rabbits, but come on)
  • Pour juice into a hat without ruining it!
  • Slice a banana with a laser pointer!
  • Turn scarves into a flag!
  • And much more!

Librarians, are you guys doing anything for spring break kids? Let me know what your library is up to!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Brash Jobs: Weeding and Liability

Hey Friends!

This week, I’m going to address more of the manager/HR/legal side of libraries. Specifically, liability. Recently, ABC News reported about a library that threw away 100,000 books and the uproar it has caused. The Alameda County’s East Bay Branch, located in Fremont, CA, has indeed thrown out thousands of books and is now a witch hunt by citizens over the books they’ve thrown away.

“This is an outrage, Justin! How dare they throw away books!”

NO. STOP RIGHT THERE.

If your first thought is, “all those poor books!”, then you’ll need to take a minute and breathe, because you won’t like what I’m going to say next.

The truth is that many of those books probably needed to go. I know hearing that might raise your blood pressure, but please hold your tempers until I finish with my reasoning. First and foremost, I want you to keep the following phrase in the back of your head when reading:

BOOKS THAT DON’T CHECK OUT DON’T STAY.

With that phrase in mind, let’s dive further into the world of collection development and the reasons why books are thrown out:

Weeding for damaged books.

Books get dirty. Books get damaged. Nobody wants to read a book that’s ripped, smelly, or stained (Especially if it’s 50 Shades of Grey.), and Alameda County Library Director Carmen Martinez didn’t mince words about that. Martinez confirmed about 172,000 books were discarded over the past two years, saying, “Some things have to go. They’re outdated, they’re worn out, a dog chewed them up, they have coffee stains”; Martinez told ABC News they were forced to make shelf space after spending about $3 million on new books.

We come across books all the time that come back in terrible condition. The spine is broken, pages are missing, mold or mildew stains, coffee rings, cigarette burns, corners torn, odors from cigarette smoke to cat urine – many of these are books you wouldn’t want in the first place. I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving a book like that to anyone, would you? A dirty/ripped/smelly book doesn’t get checked out, so it just sits there taking up space that a perfectly good book could be in. In other words…BOOKS THAT DON’T CHECK OUT DON’T STAY.

Weeding for unpopular books

By now, I’ll trust that you’ve read the article, so let me address some snippets from it:

Capture5Yes, many of those books were unpopular. Maybe the book was a passing fad that has outlived it’s 15 minutes of fame. Maybe it was just a boring book and nobody wanted to read it. Maybe it fell behind a shelf and nobody has seen it. Either way, they haven’t been checked out in years and they’re taking up space that a popular book could be in.

How would you feel if you walked into an Apple store wanting the iPhone 6 and they only had iPhone 4S? The 4S came out in the last 5 years (2011), so you should be okay with it, right? Of course not! You’d demand to know why you can’t get the product you want. Many people have trouble accepting the simple truth that the library is a business, and we can’t be offering a product nobody wants to buy (or check out). If Apple didn’t have what you wanted, you’d take your business elsewhere. Likewise, you’d find an alternate means of reading your book if you didn’t find it at the library…or interlibrary loan.

Let’s say they had the iPhone 6…but only the commemorative Willie Mays edition. Would you still get it? If yes, cool for you. If no, why not? Don’t you want to shroud your phone in our collective history? Just because it’s available doesn’t mean people want it. If the book hasn’t been checked out since the day it was put on the shelf, then it’s just taking up space.

An iPhone 4S wouldn’t sell today, and things that don’t sell in a store don’t stay on the shelf…likewise in a library, BOOKS THAT DON’T CHECK OUT DON’T STAY.

(Sensing a pattern?)

Willie Mays might be part of our collective history, but its cultural significance won’t matter if nobody ever reads it.

Anyone here heard of Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi? Probably not, but he’s the oldest living ninja. My brothers and I have always been into martial arts, and this guy has been practicing Ninjutsu, Aikido and Karate for over 60 years; Dr. Hatsumi has been writing about martial arts, ninjas, and other topics since before I was born, and I read his books as a kid. Speaking of which, his latest book came out in 2014 – 83 years old, still fighting and writing! However, I doubt you’ll find his books in most libraries either, because most people don’t have a burning desire to learn about ninjas.

One of the most famous pictures of Dr. Hatsumi.

One of the most famous pictures of Dr. Hatsumi.

Weeding for Inaccurate and Dangerous Books

As time progresses, information changes and gets updated. In the education, financial and medical fields, this is very important. Let’s look at this next bit here:

Capture4Maybe you like older stuff to see how things were back in the day, but that’s what history books are for. If you want “historical value”, read a history book – there’s a difference between “depth for research” and “updated depth for accurate research”. A science book from 1955 would be fun to look through for historical value, but you’d be crazy to read it for accurate research…sometimes, we have to weed these kinds of books to stop people from unknowingly/accidentally using it for that.

Financial/legal information changes all the time. Tax information, the legal fine print, investments, money strategies…that stuff is always changing. Don’t laughed out of a bank, investment office or law firm because you were using data from 10 years ago.

Education information changes all the time. Would you want your kid using a 2010 SAT or ACT book? Of course not! The test format changes every few years, and you wouldn’t want your kid to fail.

Medical practices are the most important, and change all the time. New studies, new research, new methods, etc make it important to keep updated information. Why is it the most important one? I’m going to give this one it’s own line:

OUTDATED MEDICAL BOOKS CAN KILL.

I’ve seen several libraries in my time where a little old lady – be it a librarian, assistant, volunteer or even patron – holds onto a Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) like it was their baby.

“No, you can’t weed this from the library! It’s a PDR! Everyone uses the PDR! You just CAN’T take it!”

Um, yes I can. It’s from 1987, and that could kill people. Nowadays, every business needs to protect themselves from liability and the library is no exception. Here’s how it works:

  • Grandma uses 1987 PDR to diagnose a problem with Grandpa
  • Old and inaccurate information leads to misdiagnosis and therefore wrong treatment
  • Grandpa dies or suffers serious harm
  • Grandma sues the library for letting her use an outdated book
  • County/City gets into hot water
  • Public outcry ensues
  • Long legal process

I’m happy to replace it with a 2014 or 2015 PDR, but you can’t keep the one from the Reagan administration. Oh, and I know you’re lying about how often it’s used; the PDR is still sitting on page 60 where I left it four months ago.

This also applies to damaged books – it’s so easy to hold someone liable in this sue-happy world. Take Iris Clay for example:

Capture7Well, Iris, I would say here’s what would happen:

  • Books with small amount of mold get donated to school
  • Child with allergies affected by the mold, has some kind of reaction
  • Parents sue the school for having dangerous books
  • Library gets sued for donating dangerous books

It’s a crazy world out there, and we need to protect ourselves at all times from such lawsuits. With that, I’ll say BOOKS THAT DON’T (belong on the shelf because they’re too dangerous to) CHECK OUT DON’T STAY.

Weeding For Shelf Space

If we keep all the old, dirty, smelly, inaccurate and dangerous books that haven’t been checked out in 5 years, then it becomes crowded, gets dirty, starts to smell and looks like a crazy cat lady thrift book shop.

Don't pretend like you can find a book here.

Don’t pretend like you can find the book you want in here.

The nasty books need to be disposed of to better serve the library and to make room for sparkling new books – or at least fresh and clean replacements of the nasty ones.

Do you really want to look for books here?

We’re the library, not grandma’s attic.

This makes the whole process safer and easier – patrons can find the book they want more easily, and they won’t be grossed it when they find it; library staff won’t feel the need for gloves when touching books and moving them around. Everybody wins!

Liability in Donating/Selling Books

 Now once we pull it from the library and replace it with a newer version, we DO NOT put it in the book sale. Why? Same legal liability as above. Donating or selling these books to somebody who then later causes serious harm or death to themselves or others results in the same lawsuits. This is like donating toys with lead paint to a preschool center, or Johnson and Johnson donating expired Tylenol.

There are some states however that limit liability under the Good Samaritan Law which offers “legal protection to people who give reasonable assistance to those who are injured, ill, in peril, or otherwise incapacitated”; while they mean this in the medical sense, it also applies to organizations that try to give reasonable assistance to others. If the local church gives the homeless canned food and the homeless person dies from it, should the church be held liable? Most people would say no – they offered it in good faith and were only trying to help. Libraries do the same offering books, but the library would rather throw them out then donate or sell an old PDR and be held liable if anything happened.

It’s very possible that Alameda County does not have Good Samaritan Laws or any limited liability and they threw these books out to protect themselves from potential lawsuits. I’m not a lawyer, nor have I consulted with Alameda County for their legal stance on Good Samaritan Laws. Can you really blame them now? Library Director Carmen Martinez isn’t some ruthless tyrant who needs to be fired – she’s a defender of the library and protector of her patrons who seems to be well-versed in HR and legal liability.

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Hopefully, the moratorium will allow them time to establish some liability protection so everyone can benefit!

Okay, NOW you can let your tempers flare! What do you think – understandable and sometimes necessary evil, or still a director with no soul who needs to be fired? Comment below or on the Facebook page and share your thoughts!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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What Library School Doesn’t teach, Part 3

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 covering customer service in Part Two of my on-going series, I noticed my poll voted that their biggest problems are often with computers and gadgets. In that vein, I thought I should cover the technological side of libraries and patron interactions for my next installment. Let’s get beep-beep-boop’n right into this mess!

Technology in General: All The Gadgets!

(But let’s break it down, anyway.)
  • Patron device problems

People bring in phones, tablets, phablets, palm pilots, Kindles, Nooks, laptops, even desktops! Seriously, a guy brought in his desktop and asked if he could hook it up to a monitor and show us what was wrong. After holidays, we often get the 80-year old man who brings in a first-generation Kindle. Oh, and he doesn’t have a computer at home (which is needed to transfer the e-books), he’s never turned the Kindle on, he’s never charged it and he wants 200 books on it in the next 10 minutes.

It’s still in the box. Hasn’t been charged, turned on, registered or anything.

Cue the rage he gets when we tell him that he needs to take it out of the box, charge it, turn it on, and register it first. No, we can’t do that for you – we literally CAN’T do that for liability reasons. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN I NEED A COMPUTER TO USE THIS THING?!? IT’S A KINDLE!!!”

The worst ones I know are the 3rd-rate devices nobody has ever heard of. “I bought this tablet on the Home Shopping Network for $20, but it doesn’t work. Can you fix it?” Ma’am, the only thing that will fix that is buying a real tablet. Honestly, we can’t really help you with your children’s Leapfrog device, either. Don’t get me wrong, we’ll certainly tinker with it and give it our best shot, but please no dirty looks when we can’t figure out why it’s not working correctly.

  • Patron software problems

No, we do not know why your obscure website will not load up.

No, we cannot get you into your Bank of America account.

No, we cannot fill out or edit your resume on that job website.

No, we cannot navigate your college webmail.

No, we will not download things on your laptop/phone/tablet for you.

No, we cannot sit with you and help you file your taxes. Just because we can use computers does not mean we can help with outside things.

Most of these contain sensitive material that we can’t help you with. Of course, we’d be happy to help you click the “Forgot Password?” link on Bank of America, get to the Work Force site, get to the college webmail login page, show you how to download the program or get to the IRS home page, but that’s legally as far as we can go. Some people really have trouble grasping this one, so let’s make another section:

Legal Liability

You see everyone, we’re really fond of protecting your information – so much so, that we are legally obligated to avoid anything that has personal information. I’m going to avert my eyes if you’re doing W-2/tax form/bank statement/social security/job application/etc things of any variety. Why? Because it protects us legally. If I help you file for unemployment, you could come back a month later with, “You helped me file for unemployment and had access to my personal information – my identity was stolen, it’s all your fault! I’m suing the city/county/district/local government of some kind!” and then I lose my job.

Promising me that you wouldn’t sue isn’t going to change my mind. I will not put my employer in a position where they could be sued. Nope, sorry.

The same goes for device help. I can tell you how to download an app to a device, but I’m not going to take your device and click the download button for you. Why? Because it’s either going to end with, “I got a virus on my computer! The library needs to replace my laptop!” or something like, “This app isn’t working! I think you did something while you were holding my device! I’m suing the library!” and then I lose my job.

(I really don’t like things that end with me losing my job.)

“Can’t you just do it for me?”

No ma’am. Not how this works.

Story time again! I have a lesson to illustrate this from a few years ago. I was working one afternoon when a lady asked me how to print her Word document from one of our computers. For clarity’s sake, I’ve color-coded my words and her words. Here’s how it went:

*Lady is standing at the printer, looking on either side of it*

“Hi Ma’am, can I help you find something?”

“Yes Sir, I was looking for my pages that I printed out. How do I print from here? Did I do it wrong?”

“Oh, it’s pretty easy, let me take a look…”

*I sit down to look at her Word document*

“Ah, I see what went wrong…just click FILE here, then PRINT, select black and white or color…”

*I click print, her stuff starts coming out*

“Oh, thank you so much!”

“You’re very welcome!”

*I go back behind circulation, she tries to walk out without paying for her copies*

“Um, Ma’am, you still need to pay for those.”

“Huh? Oh, I’m not paying.”

“No, you printed those out – you need to pay for them.”

*Lady gets angry eyes*

“No Sir, YOU clicked the button – YOU printed them out. I wasn’t ready to print them out.”

“Ma’am, when you’re standing there looking for the paper to come out of the printer, I assumed you were ready to print.”

“I THINK YOU’RE MISSING THE POINT, SIR. I DIDN’T PRINT THEM.”

*The more I stay calm, the angrier she gets*

“I’m sorry – you’re totally correct, Ma’am. I printed those, may I please have my papers back?”

*This sends her through the roof*

“THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! HOW MUCH ARE THESE STUPID COPIES WORTH?!?”

“It’s 10 cents a page for black and white, and three pages makes it 30 cents.”

*Lady throws a quarter and nickel at me. She starts leaving as her phone rings*

“Hey Pastor [blank]…Yes, I was just printing out the verses for tonight’s bible study…”

*Lady walks out the doors*

Really? Bible verses? Your church would have been so proud of your behavior.

Librarians! Tell me what gets your goat at work in the comments below or on my Facebook page! Here’s to a long, no computers on fire weekend.

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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