EQUALITY FOR ALL! WOO-HOO!

HEY FRIENDS!

What an exciting day! I had another post written for this week, but I’m saving that for another time. This breaking news couldn’t wait!

Earlier this morning – like within the last few hours – the Supreme Court has made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states!

“What’s the deal, Justin? Why is this important to you?”

While I’m not one to discuss politics on my blog, I’m an advocate for freedom and equality. As a librarian, I believe in equal access to information, and the freedom of information…why not root for equal access to marriage, and freedom of marriage?

I am not gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, asexual, etc…I’m just a straight man who believes everyone should be allowed to marry who they want. Remember, I was a theater major in undergrad – if I only had straight friends in college, I would’ve been pretty lonely. Many of my friends today are gay or lesbian and have long felt like the legal system treats them as second-class citizens; I’m so happy to see them so excited! As a divorced friend once joked, “I believe gays and lesbians are entitled to all the headaches and stress straight people have”.

What else does this mean for the USA? First and foremost, this means…

MORE WEDDINGS!

Think about it, you can now have twice as many:

  • Opportunities to wear your nice suits/dresses
  • Glasses of champagne
  • Free dinners
  • Groomsmen/bridesmaid gifts
  • Tuxedo rentals
  • SLICES OF CAKE
  • Hours on the dance floor
  • Chances to meet a special someone if you’re single
  • Chances just to meet new/fun/cool people
  • Great stories and memories to share
  • Bridal showers to attend
  • Bachelor/bachelorette parties

Don’t forget, all this money going towards food, cake, venues, DJs, officiates, champagne, wedding planners, dress makers, wedding gifts, parties and so on helps stimulate the economy. Everybody wins!

I wonder what else you might learn today.

Didn’t think about all that, did you?

That’s all for this week. Go out and have a great day, America!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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We Are Charleston…Honoring A Fallen Librarian

Hey Friends,

I’m afraid this week’s post is a somber one. As most of you are aware, nine people were shot and killed during Bible study at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Eight died at the scene and a ninth died at a hospital – six women and three men. The angry side of me wants to censor the shooter’s name and give him zero attention so I can focus on the victims. However, the librarian side of me feels obligated to provide information without bias. With that in mind, I will say the shooter is 21-year-old Dylann Roof  and leave it at that.

Among those who lost their lives was Cynthia Hurd, librarian and sister of former North Carolina state Sen. Malcolm Graham. Hurd, 54, has worked in libraries for 31 years and was the manager of the St. Andrews Regional Library. On Thursday, officials closed all 16 libraries and announced they would be naming the library in her honor.

cynthia hurd

Cynthia Hurd examining a newspaper display. (Courtesy of The Post and Courier)

Hurd’s coworker, Kim Odom, said Hurd “really opened up to me what library service meant…(It’s) not just a building where you come for storytime but a place where you really can get help…whether it is helping someone with a resume or helping them use a computer a little bit better.” The whole story on Hurd can be found here.

I’m glad Hurd was such an inspiration to others. We’re all here to help people, it’s part of why we joined the library profession. Day and night, we try to convince friends and family that libraries are more than just big boxes with books inside; We offer so much more than that – services, assistance, programs, presentations, shows, guest speakers, crafts, job help – you all know I could go on for another 12 pages.

Come to think of it, there’s a good chance Hurd was promoting the library while at her church. However, one thing library school doesn’t prepare you for is a shooting. When men and women sign up for the police academy or the armed forces, they know they’re signing up for potential combat. Librarians don’t sign up for getting shot at – especially while at church. In fact, NOBODY signs up for that.

Please keep Cynthia’s family in your thoughts this week, and don’t forget what she stood for. To me, it’s humbling to think she had been working in libraries longer than I’ve been alive. Take a moment this week, weekend or whenever you can to remember why we librarians do what we do…we’re here to help people and make a difference in the lives of those around us. Thank you for making a difference, Cynthia Hurd.

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Unusual Librarians Who Rock: A Hero to 90’s Kids Everywhere

Hey Friends!

I was looking over my agenda this weekend thinking about what to post about next. I know I’ve been heavy on the Brash Jobs lately and realized I haven’t done an episode of Unusual Librarians Who Rock (ULWR) in over a year! If you grew up during the 90’s, then you’re probably very familiar with this English museum-curating, vampire-vanquishing high school librarian.

I’m talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Rupert Edmund Giles, MLS.

Rupert_Giles

Librarians should totally dress this way.

Giles (played by Anthony Steward Head) serves as mentor, trainer and kinda-sorta father figure to heroine Buffy Summers (made famous by Sarah Michelle Gellar) and her friends who help protect Sunnydale from vampires, demons, werewolves, zombies, witches, and the like.

Before he became a librarian, Giles was a pretty bad dude. He was raised and groomed to be part of a secret organization called “The Watchers” – they pretty much mentor and teach slayers. Was Giles down with this? NO WAY. Rather than carry on the family legacy, he dropped out of studying history at Oxford so he could dabble in dark magic, demonology, witchcraft, hot-wiring cars, sorcery and punk rock. Long story short, Giles summoned a demon, got one of his close friends killed, and learned how to sing and play guitar with mad skill!

giphy

(Probably because Anthony Steward Head is an accomplished guitarist/singer in real life.)

After failing to banish the demon that killed his friend, Giles finally accepted his destiny and became a member of The Watchers. Trained in martial arts and fencing, Giles breaks the stereotype of being some mild-mannered librarian. Giles’ Wikipedia page recounts a time be beat a vampire “senseless with a flaming baseball bat”. Oh, he’s also fluent in Latin, ancient Greek, Sumerian, Japanese and possibly Gaelic.

The Toast made up a great fictional course list for Giles during his time in library school. I’m only mentioning a few of my favorites, but you can read them all here.

Course List for Rupert Giles, Master of Library Sciences Candidate, Michaelmas Term 1982

  • Taking Your Glasses Off And Slowly Rubbing Your Temples: An Introduction
  • Guarding A Vampire Slaying-Teen: Is It For You? Non-Traditional Employment In A Saturated Library Sciences Market
  • Late Fees And Love Spells: Intro to Communications Systems
  • Making The Most Of Your Resources: How To Acquire Medieval Assault Weapons And Strange Tinctures On A Limited Library Budget
  • Distinguishing Between Third-Degree Burns And Spontaneous Combustion
  • Integrated Library Systems And Standard Runes
  • Supernatural Harassment In The Workplace: What Every Librarian Should Know
  • There’s An Ancient Prophecy For That: Matching Your Present-Day Disturbances With Twelfth-Century Romanian Curses

You keep doing you, Giles.

tumblr_inline_mnbmugnS1D1qz4rgp

That’s all for this week! Don’t forget also comment or discuss on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about this or any of my stuff!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Brash Jobs: Liability and Policy

Hey Friends!

Recently, I had an interaction with a patron that I’d to share. To me, it’s a great example of policies, procedures and liability – the pragmatic side of any business. I know many of you out there have had your differences and conflicts in the work place, but sticking to the rules is what’s going to save your skin. As such, I’m going to provide a few extra tips and tricks to surviving our world or legal, fiscal and personal responsibility through my example.

While reading this article, I have one major thing for you to keep in mind:

CONSULT YOUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK.

These are helpful hints I’ve learned along the way, they are NOT gospel. If your handbook says something different from me, the follow your handbook.

HANDBOOK GOOD, NO HANDBOOK BAD.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dive into the story.

I recently had a patron come in with a parrot on his shoulder. Before approaching him, I grabbed a tri-fold brochure of my library’s general code of conduct and highlighted the following passage:

“ANIMALS: Bringing animals into the library except those needed to assist patrons with special needs is not allowed.”

Next, I made sure a coworker was nearby to listen in. I then approached the man and began this conversation:

“Pardon me, sir…is your bird a special needs animal?”

“Huh?”

“Is your bird a service or therapy animal?”

“I don’t understand what you’re saying, son. He’s a parrot.”

“Yes, but does he assist you with a disability?”

“No. I said he’s a parrot.”

“Is he a pet then?”

“Yeah, what else would he be?”

“Well, our patron code of conduct states here that we can only allow animals that assist a patron with a special need in the library.”

“He’s a parrot, he ain’t gonna do nothing.”

“I’m sorry sir, but it’s a liability and hygiene issue.”

“You government people will always find a way to keep people down. I’ve been coming here for years, but you can be sure I won’t be back again.”

“I apologize for the inconvenience sir, but you can speak with my manager if you’d like.”

“Hmmph, like that’ll do any good.”

He then promptly left the library. On his way out, a mother with two children passed by who wanted to pet the bird. What if that bird had bitten one of the kids? Lawsuit city.

Now then, this story brings up several elements I’d like to address:

  • Teamwork
  • Documentation
  • Enforcing policy
  • Staying up on policy trends

Do things in a team.

When enforcing any policy or procedure, having a partner with you is vital. Not only can they provide a second opinion in matters, but they can also corroborate your story on any incidents that may occur. Did a patron accuse you of something? “Their word vs yours” suddenly becomes “Their word vs yours with a witness who can back up your story”. It may just save you from getting fired.

Read the story again and you’ll notice that I had somebody else close by to monitor the interaction should anything have happened.

Plan your documents, document your plans.

What do I mean by that? The first part of this is having paperwork to back you up (plan your documents) and following up with documentation of the encounter (document your plans).

When I approached the man, I had my library’s code of conduct in hand and highlighted. I planned my documents, and was ready to show him in case he asks for such documents. After the encounter, I emailed my supervisor describing what happened in the event that he calls.

Enforcing policy.

Hey, we’ve all felt conflicted. Somebody doesn’t have the 10 cents needed to print something food-stamp related, the little old lady needs five more minutes on the computer, things like this happen all the time. At some point, we all have to make moral judgment calls and live with ourselves. Have I ever given a food stamp recipient a free page printout or extending a little old lady’s time by five minutes? I won’t say either way, but I know I can sleep at night.

However, a violation like an animal is a much greater problem. Do I really think that this little tiny parrot the size of my palm is going to hurt anyone? Probably not, but our policy doesn’t allow non-service animals so we have to enforce it. I felt bad about making the man take his bird elsewhere, but that comes with the job. If I didn’t do it, one of my coworkers would have.

Staying up on policy trends.

“I don’t know, Justin…am I allowed to ask that? It seems very personal and could get us in trouble with HIPAA.”

Yes, you can. The American Disabilities Act (ADA) policies regarding service animals is very clear:

ada1

However, this statement released from the ADA is dated 2011 and their website is not very organized or easy to navigate. If anyone has anything more recent, please tell me!

If you’re worried about violating any health and privacy laws, many policies advise to simply ask “Is that a pet?” and leave them alone if they say no. Again, I cannot stress this part enough – CONSULT YOUR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK.

POLICIES AND PROCEDURES HANDBOOK > ME.

Got any questions or comments for me? I’ll answer them to the best of my ability. Don’t forget you can also ask me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram about this or any of my stuff!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Brash Librarian Celebrates 100 Posts!

Hey Friends!

Sorry I’ve been out of the loop the last week, I’ve been on vacation and enjoying my birthday! More to come on that in the future.

This week is extra special, this will be my 100th post! However, this post isn’t about me, it’s about everyone who has made this blog possible. I’d like to take this post to thank those people who have helped me out over the life of this blog.

I’ll start off with thanking my first follower/commentator msnoseinabook. You’re that $1 on the wall in my coffee shop!

To my library mentors, I’d like to thank MJ, Edenia, Sol, Gene, Katy and others for teaching me over the years and showing me how to be a real leader. In that same vein, I want to thank Delonda and Anita for being the best bosses a person could ever have. Special thanks for Dr. Christie Koontz for being a great professor, an inspiration, and I wish you the best for your retirement next year!

Dr. Koontz and I back in 2012. How time flies!

 

For those fighting with me in the trenches, I want to thank Shane, Rachel, Barrett, Josh, Mara, Dakota, Aida, Marilyn, Sheree, Jamie, Ricci, Kelly, Julia, Meredith, Jacqui, Martha, and many others. Together, we’ve helped many people.

Although I’ve been away from home, having great coworkers makes it much easier…Thank you to Tina, Christina, Tinachris (it’s a nickname), Lalli, Lily, Angelica, Norma, Coiette, Yvonne, Anita and everyone else at work who makes my job feel like Disney World. Another special thanks to Heather, Keoni, Colleen and Roy – they’re not coworkers, but they’ve helped me call Houston home.

Every good librarian needs friends outside the library world to keep them sane sometimes, and I would definitely be insane without my non-library friends. Dylan, Grant, Maya, Caitlin, Troy, Kayla, Amy, Rheanna, Dave, Barrett, Donny, Justin, Jovon, Zoe, Zack, Jeanell, Beth, Sean…I’d be here all day if I listed every single person!

Finally, I want to thank my family for their unrelenting support and all that they do for me. Alex, Bill, Ashley, Nigel, Upuli, Pop…

Saving the best for last, I’d like to thank my mom. Since she’s family, a friend, a mentor and a library person herself, she gets her own dang category. Thanks, Mom!

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all my exclusives!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: The Elon Musk Way to Succeed in the Library Industry

Hey Friends!

So last week on April 30th, billionaire entrepreneur/genius/green energy philanthropist Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Energy Powerwall, a new series of batteries based on the batteries that currently power Tesla Motors vehicles. Instead of cars, however, these batteries can power homes, businesses, and even purposed for public utility use. Business Insider is calling it “the beginning of the end for fossil fuels”.

If you’re thinking “wait, I’m still a little fuzzy on this Elon Musk guy”, then let’s bring you up to speed:

  • Musk is the co-founder of Paypal, (which you’ve probably used at some point)
  • Co-founder, CEO and product architect of electric car company Tesla Motors
  • Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, which designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft
  • Chairman of SolarCity, an energy company in California that specializes in solar panels, electric vehicles and charging stations
  • Taught himself computer programming at age 12

Basically, he’s the real-life Tony Stark. Speaking of which, Musk took the fictional interactive gesture interface from the Iron Man films and made it real.

Seriously, this guy could build an Iron Man suit.

 

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

I’m getting there, hang on.

Justine Musk (ex-wife of Elon Musk) recently gave advice on how to become a billionaire on the question/answer website Quora. Being married to a guy like that nearly a decade, she’s seen what somebody has to do to become a billionaire. I’ll focus on specific parts, but you can read the whole thing here. Someone asked:

 “Will I become a billionaire if I am determined to be one and put in the necessary work required?”

Justine’s reply?

“No.

One of the many qualities that separate self-made billionaires from the rest of us is their ability to ask the right questions.

This is not the right question.

You’re determined. So what? You haven’t been racing naked through shark-infested waters yet. Will you be just as determined when you wash up on some deserted island, disoriented and bloody and ragged and beaten and staring into the horizon with no sign of rescue?

We live in a culture that celebrates determination and hard work, but understand…Determination and hard work are necessary, yes, but they are the minimum requirements. As in: the bare minimum.

A lot of people work extremely hard and through no fault of their own — bad luck, the wrong environment, unfortunate circumstances — struggle to survive.

Ask yourself what you have the potential to offer that is so unique and compelling and helpful that no computer could replace you, no one could outsource you, no one could steal your product and make it better and then club you into oblivion (not literally). Then develop that potential. Choose one thing and become a master of it.  Choose a second thing and become a master of that.  When you become a master of two worlds (say, engineering and business), you can bring them together in a way that will a) introduce hot ideas to each other, so they can have idea sex and make idea babies that no one has seen before and b) create a competitive advantage because you can move between worlds, speak both languages, connect the tribes, mash the elements to spark fresh creative insight until you wake up with the epiphany that changes your life.

There is no road map, no blueprint for this; a lot of people will give you a lot of advice, and most of it will be bad, and a lot of it will be good and sound but you’ll have to figure out how it doesn’t apply to you because you’re coming from an unexpected angle. And you’ll be doing it alone, until you develop the charisma and credibility to attract the talent you need to come with you.”

While nobody enters the library industry to become a billionaire, I think Justine touched upon some very important tips to bring out the best in anyone. To me, the most important part is developing your potential – becoming a master of two things and merging them together. I’m pretty sure Justine would tell the average librarian, “Sure, you’re a librarian…so what?” and then tell you to combine it with another skill and become something rare that a library needs. For me, I would want master a few:

  • Libraries
  • Business/business management
  • Technology (especially social media)

I always try to tackle problems from a unique angle and find solutions for everyone – a good example would be when I was a manager at Putnam County Library System and founded a partnership with the Florida Department for Children and Families (DCF). DCF now has a presence in every library branch in Putnam County, FL, and the library got over a dozen laptops and desktops donated to them…everybody won FOR FREE! Would I be good in management? I’d certainly like to think so. Perhaps my future has “MLS/MBA” written on it.

The other duo I’m working on on would be libraries and social media, mostly for Brash Librarian. Sure, I want to climb the ladder in the library industry and create new things nobody has seen before, but I want to share that with everyone in and out of the library world. Out of all the people reading this, I want millennials to see it most of all. The average age for entering the library is 36; One of the goals for BL is to develop/master those talents while building the charisma and credibility needed to pull in younger adults and breathe new life into the library world.

Maybe the next phase will be merging all three and using social media to promote libraries for money? It’s not revolutionary, but it’s a starter idea baby.

…Yes, I want to be Elon Musk/Tony Stark. But for libraries.

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all the Brashness!

 

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: Preparing for the Interview (Part 2)

Hey, Friends!

This week brings the next part in the Brash Jobs series where I offer tips and tricks for getting into the job industry. In part one of my job hunting posts, I talked about getting yourself prepared and figuring out your strengths/weaknesses before we began. If step one was knowing yourself, then step two is knowing your enemy. To break open the door to employment, you’ll need to study the lock that keeps it shut…in other words, you’ll have to research your potential employer and learn what you can before the actual interview. For libraries, this pretty much involves scouting their website.

For for this post, I chose a library at random to do a breakdown and show you what I look for. I chose Idaho’s Boise Public Library as my example.

What do you notice right away?

boiselibrary

Let’s start with bullet point observations and a few basic inferences. Sure, most of these are pretty simple, but paying attention now will pay off later.

  • Municipality: In the upper left corner, you’ll see that this page is “brought to you by the City of Boise”; I can infer from there that this is a city library system (as opposed to county, academic, or private libraries).

 

  • Scale: Just by looking at the “Locations & Hours” Tab on the left side, I can surmise that they have more than one location. I know it’s obvious, but I start with this stuff to get you thinking.

 

  • Technology: In the upper right corner, I have the option to log in and review my account. When coupled with the online calendar and dark grey tabs on the left hand side – “Donate Now”, “Get a Library Card [online]”, “Pay Fines & Fees Online” – it’s rather impressive. tabsI’ve worked with many library systems, visited dozens of others, and very few have the ability to take credit cards and payments online. I can reason that this library has a very strong IT foundation and is probably well-funded. Speaking of which…

 

  • Funding: With most government entities, you can find out their budget online through the city/county website. Trust me, you sound REALLY smart if they ask, “What do you know about us?” and you say, “Well, I know you have over 100 employees and a budget of about 8.9 million dollars, which has been a steady increase over the past few years and now accounts for about a quarter of the arts and recreation budget for the city.” How do I know what the budget is? Because I clicked on “See More” tab in the upper left corner and went to the Boise 2014 City Budget. Boise makes it very easy to find their information!
    Boise budget

    Found on page 113.

    How do I know that the budget has increased? Because I read the previous budget plan as well.boise budget2

    By the time you’re done talking to these guys, they’re going to think, “Holy crap, this guy did his homework!”

     

  • Charity: Not only is there the dark grey “Donate Now” tab, but there is also the “Idaho Gives” in the upper right corner, along with the Boise Friends of the Library and the Boise Public Library Foundation in the bottom center. FOLWith how much real estate it takes up on their page, I can gather that Boise Library System probably has a strong focus on altruistic endeavors.
  • Culture: Take a look at the highlight in the center for the Idaho Dance Theatre. Is there a large theatre/dance scene in Boise? Five minutes of Googling will find that out. Again, it’s very impressive if you have a passion for the arts and mention the Stagecoach Theatre and the Boise Little Theatre.
Thanks, Google Maps!

Thanks, Google Maps!

 

  •  Transparency: I really like a system that makes itself very accessible. call listNotice in the bottom left how easy they make it to call or click for assistance. If I have to dig through 3 pages just to find a number, I get the feeling I’m dealing with a nameless, faceless entity. Having the number and especially the director’s name right up front says, “Hi, we’re approachable and easy to reach!”

 

  • Social Presence: Boise makes it very clear on their front page in the bottom right corner that they have a strong social media presence.
    social media

    Caught it mid-scroll during their update on Free Comic Book Day!

    Facebook, Twitter, a YouTube channel and BookMyne! For those unfamiliar with BookMyne, it’s an app service through SirsiDynix; for my non-library peeps, SirsiDynix is an integrated library system (ILS) provider that keeps track of your book and patron records. BookMyne can scan a book’s barcode (to see if the library has it), access your account to check due dates, place a hold, renew a book – almost anything you do in the library can be done on your device.  You can even get alerts when books are due or holds become available. Searching the catalog by author, title, subject or keyword gets you book summaries, cover images, number of copies and more. You can even see what your friends are reading via Goodreads!

If this sounds super cool (or you have Sirsi and you’re interested in it for your library), check out this demo video on it.

A good question to ask during the interview could be, “How are you liking BookMyne? How much patron participation/usage do you get from it?”

Next time, we’ll delve even deeper into the preparation and *GASP* the actual interview!

Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get all the Brashness!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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