Brash and Back in Action

HELLOOOOOOO, FRIENDS!!!

What an exciting time it has been these past few weeks. As director Michael Bay or actor Simon Pegg might say, “a no-holds-barred, adrenaline-fueled thrill ride”.

La-dee-da, hum bum WHOA TAKE COVER

When we last we left in our intrepid Brash chronicles, I announced that I would be taking a break from writing to focus on my Finance class. There was a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears, but I finished the class with an A! When I first started, I was hoping to escape with a B- but came away with a 95. It was at great cost, but worth it. I isolated myself from friends, family, hardly didn’t speak to anyone, just studied almost non-stop like a machine. It also helped having a really great teacher who was there for any questions I had, helped me work on what I was weakest at, and just helped me believe in myself. (If you’re reading this, Dr. Wang – thank you.)

So, what did I do to celebrate? Some food, some drink, some merriment, some relaxing…

And then signed up for my second finance class.

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I know, right?

I wish finance were over, believe me, but I need two finance classes to get my MBA. It’s gonna suck taking them back to back, but what’s the alternative? Forget all of it, take a year later and have to relearn it all? Nah, I’ll just suffer through it. I won’t get as many posts out as I’d like, but I can still get plenty of content on through on FacebookTwitter and Instagram when time allows. If you haven’t, you’re missing out on great tips like how to protect yourself from the Equifax data breach. If you haven’t heard about it, click here to see if you’ve been affected by the incident.

Great! Well, it looks like I’m ready to start class agai–

HI, MY NAME’S HARVEY! LET ME GIVE YOU A HURRICANE HUG!

Nice to meet you too, 10 trillion gallons of water.

Thankfully, my apartment and car didn’t flood! Our library got a little water, but nothing serious. We were closed the last weekend of August, and saw a whole lotta water! Fortunately, we’ve had FEMA workers in our library helping people file papers and get their lives back together. Our library has decided to waive any fines for books damaged in the hurricane and any late fees. Because libraries are people, too!

With the water slowly leaving the roads and things returning to normal, I can resume my to-do list:

  • Beat round 2 of Finance
  • Finish the backlog of laundry
  • Catch up on season 7 of The Walking Dead (bout time, Netflix)
  • Clean my car (because I can’t clean it out in the pouring rain)
  • Eat all the junk hurricane food we saved up
  • Get back to running and losing weight (I regret that previous one)
  • Write Brash Librarian posts (working on that now!)

My Florida friends were checking on me all the time, and were all very happy that I was okay. We had power and internet the whole time, so things were okay for the most part. The worst part came when my Florida friends were–

HI!!! I’M IRMA!!! YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY IN FLORIDA LOOKED LONELY, SO I’LL GIVE THEM A HURRICANE HUG, TOO!

apocalypse

Hurricanes are emotionally needy creatures.

Everyone I know of turned out okay though! My sister had her second baby right before Irma hit, so they stayed in the hospital. My mom lost power for about two days but was otherwise alright, and most of my friends were okay. My friend Caitlin had some power lines and a fence torn down by a neighbor’s tree – thankfully, the tree landed in her pool instead of her house! Some friends still don’t have power, but the majority of them are back to normal.

So what’s the overall current score?

  • Justin: 1, Harvey: 0
  • Justin: 1, Finance: 2 (I dropped out twice, and beat it once!)
  • Florida friends and family: 1, Irma: 0

That’s all I have this week, friends! Next week, I have my first exam and my library will be doing inventory, so another post might have to wait until October I’ll try to check in weekly with some quick and fun posts and surveys, this new Finance class isn’t going easy on me. Just know that I’m here for you, just as everyone has been for me. Stay safe in this season of 500-year storms!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Taking a Short Break

Hey Friends!

If there’s one thing I don’t like admitting, it’s that I can’t handle everything at once…and math is not my strongest suit.

As most of you know, I’m in the MBA program at A&M, and I’m taking one of my toughest classes yet: Finance. I once took it in undergrad, and it beat me up so much that I had to drop out. After much research and patience, I think I found the right professor and the right semester to take it. Even with all that…the class is still getting extremely tough. I thought taking it in a 6 week summer class would be like ripping off a band-aid, but it’s more like ripping off a finger at this point.

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Visual representation of me and Finance.

I certainly didn’t want you guys to worry about why posts weren’t coming out, so I’m giving you all a heads-up that there might not be any posts for the next 5 weeks or so while I combat this numbers monster. I really wanted to follow up on how Amazon Prime Day went last week, but that’s just gonna have to wait. I’ll still try to keep y’all entertained on FacebookTwitter and Instagram when I have a spare moment or two!

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how the class goes.

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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Amazon Prime Day is Back…and it might be good this time?

Hey Friends!

This week, I’m revisiting two of my favorite passions: research and shopping. Couple these together, and you have a Scrooge McDuck librarian who scours the internets for the best deals. This week, we’ll see if Amazon Prime Day delivers those deals.

“I’m lost, Justin. What the heck is Prime Day?”

For those who don’t know, Amazon debuted what they call Prime Day for Prime members two years ago (read more here). It was supposed to be a day to celebrate Prime memberships and say thanks by giving members exclusives deals with all kinds of great deals. However, the deals were…bad. How bad? Here’s a recap:

What did Twitter say?

(View the full recap here)

It was so bad, I didn’t even write about it last year. I wrote a few recommendations about what they should do in the future, and it seems they’ve listened. Did they actually listen? They might have.

  • I asked for notifications for when deals go live, and the app/website do that now.
  • I asked to give more previews instead of keeping us in suspense, and they did it for the most part.

I don’t know what else is in store, we’ll find out when Prime Day actually gets here.

One thing they’ve really upped their game on this year? THE GIVEAWAYS. They’ve been doing giveaways for the past 10 days or so, all products you’d actually want. One a scale of “check them out if I have time” to “keep my eyes glued”, I’m at “set alarms for every major one”. Ya dang right, I want a Nintendo Switch and Macbook!

I already missed a shot at a free Playstation 4 by MERE SECONDS, I ain’t making that mistake again.

Yes, these deals are still going on. Enter for free stuff while you still can!

Did I mention that these are just the giveaways offered by Amazon? There’s literally thousands of giveaways – of course, many of these are offered by people or companies that want you to follow them on Twitter/Facebook/etc to be eligible, but if the product’s worth it to you…

Will the deals actually turn out to be worth it? After 2 years of nothing to show, maybe Amazon is hoping third time’s the charm. I’m not holding my breath, I’ll patiently wait for Black Friday and snag my stuff at 60% off. If you want a TV, get it in the first 20 days of January (that’s when every retailer is trying to make room for new TVs just in time for the Superbowl)

If you asked my mom, she’d tell you “Justin will squeeze a penny until a nickel falls out”. I guess we’ll see how many nickels Amazon can squeeze out of me tomorrow.

What I do with all those savings, you ask?

Are you looking forward to any deals? Any good giveaways you’re interested in? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Finals, TLA, and other stuff that kept me from writing.

Hey Friends!

By Thor’s hammer, it’s been a long time. I’ve been drowning in so much stuff, that I haven’t posted in a month. I’m pretty sure that’s a record for me. (And one I’d rather not try to break.)

So, let’s try to catch y’all up on life recently.

RFID is finally coming into place.

As you guys might remember, we underwent our RFID tagging during inventory last September. Many tears, lots of insanity, it was something we’d prefer to never do again. The whole point of RFID is to get us ready for self-check stations that were coming in October…and then got pushed to December…then January…then February…you get the idea.

900-years

This is how old I felt waiting for all this stuff.

Once it finally arrived, things started crashing, computers were going offline, our branch was half-functioning for a week, and other glitches in the Matrix that made things wonky.

Thankfully, everything started coming together, things got un-crashed, and we started opening self-check machines to the public. If you’ve been in public libraries for any amount of time, you know that people don’t embrace change well. To quote a mentor, “If you move the salt shaker one inch to the left, everybody loses their minds“…boy, were they right. While some people liked how they work, many people didn’t appreciate the new-fangled technology. I mean, REALLY didn’t appreciate it. On a scale of 1 to “never coming back here”, they cranked it up to 11: Dropping their books on the counter, telling us “if we can’t have a person check us out, then we’ll go another library”, and then walk out telling staff that these machines will replace them. Did I mention some people don’t like change?

no love

That’s pretty much how it felt.

I went home for vacation.

In the longest vacation I’ve taken in at least five years, I spent two weeks going down to visit family and friends in Florida It was a very bittersweet vacation, as I also went down to help my parents pack up their house to move. They’ve been in that house since I was a teenager, filled with years of laughter, joy, sadness, and everything that comes with over a decade of memories.

I drove from Houston to Florida to help my parents pack up and move. We moved into that house when I was 17, and I’ve watched my bedroom become my brother’s room, then a utility room, and so on. I got to take home some pretty awesome stuff! Items ranged from, “Holy moly, I haven’t seen that in forever! Sure, I’ll take that with me” to, “Hey Justin, are you suuure you don’t need another bowl/pot/pan/bag/lamp/family heirloom/sweater/book/movie/thing nobody else wants or has room for?”

I was so happy I got to hang out with so many of my friends – Jessie, Megz, Grant, Kayla, Drew, Stephanie, and a dozen more – especially before some of them left town as well. My best friend Dylan is moving to DC to up his lawyer game, and my friend Cree is moving to LA to chase her modeling/acting/writing careers. (Don’t let them take your spark, girl!)

Then I went to Tampa and saw even more friends and family! I got to see Caitlin, Jovon, my sister Ashley and plenty more. If you don’t remember Ashley from my post about her Etsy shop, she’s still going strong – which I recommend you check out!

I went to TLA in San Antonio!

I went to sessions, I met some great people – Gerrye, Micki, Alan, I’m looking at you…Oh, Alan! We talked about a few directors that we both know, but I forgot to ask if you knew Lisa Brasher. That’s my mom! (Small world, right?)

I also made a new friend named Cory who I’ve become good friends with, but I’ll get to back to that.

I had finals. UGH.

In between sessions and the exhibit hall, I was writing my final papers. While advanced macro-economic theory was very interesting and helped me better understand how global economies work, I now feel like every little thing I read in the news looks like the beginning of an economic crash.

You know how a first year med student gets a headache and now wonders if they have a brain tumor? It’s like that, but with money.

I had my birthday!

Yaaaay…I’m kidding, I’m really excited, but still feel like I can do more and be more. I’m sure everyone feels like that, but still! At least I can tell people I’m on the wrong side of 30 now. :p

Renovations started.

So pretty much my entire area got gutted to become our New Book area and we got moved to a new part of the library. We’re getting a totally sweet desk when all is said and done, but that means temporary desks and tables until that comes in. My team feels like a family without a home…but like Gloria Gaynor, we will survive.

RFID Gets a Friend

I’ll be covering this more in a future post, but we’ve looking for a book sorter unit. We’ve already started automating the check-out process, so it makes sense that we do the same to the check-in process.

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Just an idea of what a sorter unit looks like.

While we had decided between two different vendors and were trying to make up our minds, and that’s when I met my new friend Cory at TLA. See? I told you to get back to that.

“So who is Cory and what does that have to do with RFID?”

Well, annoying nasal voice in my head, Cory is the President of Lyngsoe, a company that produces the kind of book sorters units we’ve been looking for. A few emails and phone calls later, Cory and his team came to visit our library and demo their unit. I’ll be going further in-depth on this in another post, but Cliffnotes version: we liked it so much, we had their demo unit installed before summer reading started. We’ll get a brand spanking new one after the summer crowd has died down a little and we can install it without inconveniencing patrons.

So, talk to me, people! Does your library do RFID yet? If not, are you considering it? I’m thinking about writing a crash-course guide to RFID installations – “All the things I wish I’d known/done before RFID” or something of the sort…comments? Questions? Suggestions? Let me know!

Don’t forget you can follow these RFID adventures on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram as well!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

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This is bigger than you or me. Get Brash and save your library.

Hey friends.

I know, it’s been two months since you’ve heard from me. I’ll explain all that next week – right now, there are bigger problems at hand.

As our new administration continues trying to de-fund entities like the National Endowment for the Arts, NPR, PBS, and healthcare, another target is now in their sights – libraries.

Two of this year’s “Dear Appropriator” letters began circulating in the Senate, one seeking $186.6 million for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the other $27 million for the Innovative Approaches to Libraries (IAL) program for FY 2018. When a majority of Senators sign these letters, it sends a clear message to the Senate Appropriations Committee to reject requests to eliminate IMLS, and to continue funding for LSTA and IAL at least at current levels.

The deadline for senators to support libraries is May 19. As of this afternoon, only 14 Senators have signed for IAL and just 22 have backed LSTA, both WAY under last year’s totals. That means that we need all library supporters to call their Senators TODAY and ask them to support federal funding for libraries.

Let me rephrase that, because it sounds vaguely important.

YOU HAVE 9 DAYS TO CALL YOUR SENATORS AND TELL THEM TO SUPPORT LIBRARIES, OR WE WILL LOSE $213 MILLION DOLLARS IN FUNDING.

Not sure if your Senators have signed? Check The American Library Association’s handy database! The ALA’s Legislative Action Center gives you everything you need to identify your Senators and to tell him/her to sign the letters and save libraries.

Not sure what to say? Repeat after ALA:

“please support federal library funding by signing both the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) Dear Appropriator letters being circulated by Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.”

 

 

If you’ve ever used a library, supported a library, or had a library impact your life in any way, I implore you to call your representatives regarding this. I’ve already started the the phone war on Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Since nobody picked up during the 5 times I called today and all their voicemail boxes being full, I took to Twitter to get their attention.

If we can crash the FCC to protect net neutrality, we can let senators know that libraries aren’t to be messed with. We can do this, people!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Coming Up For Air…

HEY FRIENDS!

Just taking a moment to thank you all for your patience during these trying times over at BL. Here’s a quick 30-second recap since our last intrepid experience:

  • My phone got fried by an update (more to come on that)
  • School has many papers this semester, my writing hands have been busy
  • I’m giving annual appraisals to my staff all this month, more busy!
  • RFID self-check stations finally come this week (MORE BUSY)
Break time, people.

Break time, people.

“Wait Justin, didn’t you already handle the RFID stuff?

Nope, that was only the beginning. Back in September, we did inventory and tagged our entire collection, followed by more tagging and stress. There was some crying, some bleeding, but we all came out in one piece. This week, the actual tech comes in for the difficult parts.

While I don’t always have time to write the amazing posts that you guys love so much, my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are great for keeping you entertained between posts. If you didn’t follow me, you might have missed my totally awesome circulation display!

I put these hearts up along the back of our desk area, total credit to Pinterest for the idea.

Maybe advice is more your thing? Always looking to improve your game?

BOOM: Pro tips, free of charge.

Maybe you just need a laugh or live vicariously through the misadventures of others.

Yup, we’ve got that covered, too.

(I say, “we” because this was a team effort to clean up.)

And back to the grindstone! I’d way be writing about library adventures than structural vs. cyclical unemployment and monetary vs. fiscal policy, believe me. However, it’s necessary if I want director jobs and and consulting. (I am available for consulting, FYI. Apparently, people didn’t know that I do consulting?)

Next time on BL (probably): Technology and the struggles of it – especially if you’re an Android user. Have a great weekend and/or week next week!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

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Happy New Year From Brash Librarian

Happy New Year, Friends!

Here we are, already into the beginning of our second week of 2017. We lost many great people in 2016 like Alan Rickman, Elie Wiesel, Prince, and library supporter/book lover David Bowie, to name a few. Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher were particularly close to my heart. Not only am I an avid Star Wars fan, but I can also make the claim to being serenaded by Debbie herself.

That’s right, Debbie Reynolds personally serenaded me.

The reaction I get from most people.

The reaction I get from most people.

I was about 7 years old when my family saw Debbie Reynolds live in Vegas. She spotted me at our table and asked me my name…then announced that she’d sing a song for me. It was a late night show, so I started falling asleep like any little boy. In my last moments before sleep, Debbie started to sing a song called “Goodnight, Justin”.

I truly wish I had been older when I met Debbie. I was too young to appreciate that this legend – the star of what would be my favorite musical years later, the mother of Princess Leia – choose to sing to me. Thank you for giving me a magical night I will carry with me forever. Goodnight to both of you, ladies.

You're missed, General Leia.

You’re missed as well, General Leia.

So let’s go back and look at some of the great highlights we’ve through together here on Brash Librarian!

I had the privilege to work with so many great professionals this year.

fist bump

I had the pleasure of interviewing with Sarah Clark over at Better Library Leaders, I got to learn about copyright and usage with the folks over at the Unshelved comic series, and I’m celebrating one year with Combatant Gentleman, an online clothier that offers a 15% discount for library professionals (just use the code BRASH15).

I was promoted to Circulation Manager! (AKA, “I want to see the manager”)

That’s right, it’s no longer Lieutenant Cruch now…

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One year ago today, I announced that I would probably be writing a little less because of the increased responsibility. I’m both pleased and sad that I didn’t disappoint. It comes with managing a team of 9 people.

I turned 30!

midnightn

I was so blessed to have the time and funds to travel back to Florida and ring in my 30th birthday with my best friends at my favorite bar in the universe. I was really terrified about leaving my 20s and entering 30, I’ll admit. Now that I’ve been in it for about six months…it’s not so bad. I feel a little wiser and braver. Just in time for ALA…

 

I attended my first ALA Convention!

That was an amazing trip. I made connections and new friends, I got to see friends and family, and even hang out with my nephew who visited from Denver!

I entered the MBA program at Texas A&M University.

I’d debated this for awhile, but I decided it’s what I needed if I really wanted to rise both professionally and personally. I love that I’m learning tons, but sad that my social life has dropped to zero…for now.

I went through my first inventory and RFID.

han solo falcon

And we’re just getting started.

It was certainly a fun and interesting foray into new experiences and technology. However, that was JUST the tagging part. The actual book sorting machine, self check-out stations and accompanying toys haven’t even arrived it.

I was in a car accident.

If nothing else, November 2016-present has taught me that car shopping sucks, insurance sucks more, and to have zero faith in anyone and everything car related. RIP little 2003 Honda Accord, I’ll have to make do with a Hyundai Sonata.

Resolutions? Hmm…that’s tough.

I’m planning to get back into working out – I injured my shoulder right before Christmas and I’m still waiting for that to heal. However, that doesn’t mean that I can’t exercise the rest of me and eat right. The main resolution here would be to have a body like Stephen Amell in Arrow.

stephen amell9

He’s like 34, I still got time. Yes, I did my research.

Body image aside, I think I want to improve my entire self. Way too often, people tell me that I’m too humble, that I don’t take enough credit, that I push myself too hard, that I deserve more and shouldn’t settle. Maybe I will this year! I used to be way more arrogant, cocky, dismissive, etc; I feel that I’ve really come a long way, but a few people suggested that I might have over-corrected and swung to far back in the opposite direction. I suppose I could try to put the “Brash” back into Brash Librarian?

(Yeah, that sounds catchy! The Brash is back! Watch out, world! He’s da coolest!)

Thanks, stereotypical late 80s/early 90s voice in my head!

As my mom always says to me when I talk about all the people I’m helping and the stress work and school can take on me: “That’s great, but have you been good to Justin?”

I think this year is about being good to me as well as others. Bruce Wayne can’t live as Batman 24/7, and I have to hang my cape up every now and again to help myself. To sum up this year’s resolutions: Be good to the world and to Justin (but especially in the 6 pack abs way).

That’s all for this week, I hope everyone is having an okay start to the New Year!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

 

 

 

 

 

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