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.

Lyngsoe.jpg

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…

tumblr_static_shawn_5

 

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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Brashly Returning From The Dead

Hey, Everyone.

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted, but for good reason. Well, more like bad reasons but the reasons are solid!

Firstly, Happy Halloween!

Reference for those who use Bounty instead.

Reference for those who use Bounty instead.

I wasn’t sure what to be for Halloween, so I put about 10 choices on my Facebook and threw in the Brawny paper towel man as a joke. Of course, Brawny Man won by a landslide.

Since it was a totally work-appropriate costume, I wore it to our City costume contest, held at City Hall. While I didn’t win, I got the entire room to applaud with my humor. Just imagine half deep booming voice/half car salesman voice telling all of the council chamber, “Don’t be fooled by that quicker-picker-upper impostor, Bounty! Shop smart…shop Brawny!”

halloween-employee-costume-contest_2016_037

After being asked 20 times if I’m a lumberjack, I wore a name tag and carried the roll.

  • Our comic con happened.

I know I’ve promised you info about our comic book convention, but that will have to wait because there’s just too much to cover today.

  • I was in a car accident.

My car accident felt like an SNL skit or something. While on my way to our annual strategic planning meeting, I was about halfway through the intersection when a kid in a Dodge Avenger blew through a red light and hit me. He hit my front corner so hard, he whipped around and boomeranged into the back of my car. That’s right, I GOT HIT TWICE BY ONE CAR.

You can see the wheel well crumpled around the tires with not too much cosmetic damage. I was almost able to drive away from it! His car pretty much exploded like a toy, everything from the front wheels forward was gone. 

So cops show up, insurance is called, kid admits fault to everything. Turns out we both have State Farm for insurance, which contracts cars to pick us up and take us to the Hertz rental. I RODE TO HERTZ WITH THE GUY WHO HIT ME.

insane

But wait, it gets better. I get to talking with the kid, he’s in school for mechanics. He works at a car dealership getting a job in the COLLISION REPAIR DEPT. I can’t make this up.

I was thinking another Honda because this one took it like a champ. I really hoped they  wouldn’t total it, but they did. I loved my little Honda, but they’re so expensive now. I looked around, but found nothing that really seemed good. Is a Honda 2013 or newer certified pre-owned that’s reasonably priced so hard to find?

So some of you know I was debating between a Honda Accord and a Hyundai Sonata for my next car. My rental choices were either a large SUV…or a Hyundai Sonata. Extended test drive, begin! Spoiler: I ended up with a Hyundai.

  • Happy Thanksgiving!

Due to the whole “shopping for a new car thing”, I didn’t really have much to spend for Black Friday. However, I did spring about $39 for 1500-thread count sheets so I can be spend my sleepless nights of anxiety in comfort. Adulting done right, am I right?

jingle-yay

My spirit vs. my wallet.

  • General Stress

So the whole car buying experience was a nightmare, dealing with a bunch of scamsters who tried to bait-and-switch me. Lesson: Don’t mess with a librarian – we research, compare, verify and double check to make sure you’re trying to pull a fast one. From start to finish, I think I knocked about $2300 off the price tag. Not bad for my first car buying experience!

On top of all that stress, I started to feel some of the effects from the car accident. I wish I could say that I walked away feeling 100%, but I’m afraid not. I wonder how Batman manages all this.

  • I got a haircut!

I decided the hair needed some kind of change, so my stylist decided to swoop my front hair to the side. It’s not a life-altering difference, but it’s nice! My hair says “new!”, but my face says “stressed”.

  • Lots of great holidays!

Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they’re great (AND SAFE). Here’s to the next post being happier!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: Work-Life Balance

Happy Halloween, Friends!

Sorry for the lack of posts the last week or three, it’s been one of those times where finding a proper balance of life and work has been out of whack. When last we left off on our most recent adventure, we had just finished two weeks of RFID tagging and inventory, followed by the onslaught of checked out books returning home that needed to be tagged and programmed. With most things tagged by the end of September, I decided it was time for some vacation. Thankfully, I already had a vacation set up! I was given the opportunity to be a groomsman in the wedding for one of my best friends, Jovon, back home in Florida.

I was lucky enough to have another bestie Caitlin pick me up from the airport in Orlando and spend a day or two with her!

With a spare day to run around town, Caitlin and her roomie Ian were kind enough to take me around town and show me some of their neighborhood. Thanks to school and work, I’ve become something of a homebody and cooking my own meals, so it was nice to stretch my legs and see the sights! Once we got to this lovely little Viet/Thai restaurant, I was torn between to dishes: the pork fried rice, and the volcano chicken. Of course I asked our server what’s she would recommend.

“Should I get the volcano chicken, or -“

“You want volcano chicken.”

*Cue skillet of delicious smelling chicken passing by to another table, a pillar of steam rising*

“Whoa, what did that guy order?”

“That volcano chicken.”

…Yup, that giant pile of chicken and veggies was GLORIOUS!

The next day was mostly catching up, resting, relaxing and walking around Gulfport. Caitlin even showed me her local little library! We also walked along the water and saw dolphins, got some fantastic breakfast, and enjoyed some much-needed friend time. Trips like these remind me of how much I miss my friends.

As the afternoon pushed on, we packed up an eventually headed over to the rehearsal wedding and dinner. Once again, the food was glorious and the decor amazing. Isn’t this little sign adorable? Also, the groomsmen wore Hawaiian shirts, shorts and Converse chucks. Why? Because my friends are awesome and also FLORIDA!

I got to see old friends (looking at you, DeVonne, Michelle, Scott, Bryan, Tim) and make new friends (bonus points to Alicia for her wicked dance skills and mad baking). Also, everyone in this family unit can COOK! Alicia make the French toast cake, and I’m 99% sure I have the recipe down.

If you’ve never read Brash Librarian before, you’re probably thinking I weigh 400 pounds by how much I mention food; it’s not just the food, but who I’m sharing it with. On the whole, I usually do all the cooking in my place and cook primarily for myself. Eating food that I didn’t have to make (and tastes 10 times better than mine) with people that I love and care about? It’s these little moments that I truly treasure. Congrats again to Jovon and Scott Harkless!

For more fun photos, be sure to check out my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram! If I included every photo and video, we’d both be here all day.

Once I got back from Florida, it was immediately back into the fray. The following week, we held our second annual comic book convention! There’s so much good stuff in that post, I’ll need to save it for next week. You know, costumes and stuff are a great topic for Halloween week.

So what’s this post all about?

Good question! The fact is, we all work very hard and take great pride in our work, but we sometimes forget to enjoy the little things. When you’re like me – working in a place where you have no family and only a few friends – you sometimes forget how important those little things are. As much as I love to think I’m Batman and capable of anything, even Batman needs rest and friends sometimes. This really recharged my battery and helped remind me how amazing my friends are.

Coming up later this week:

This week, I’m aiming for a double post week to make up for the lack of posts. Since I need to talk about our recent comic book convention, it’ll be a perfect topic for this week!

Take care until then (and don’t eat too much candy!)

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: RFID, The Revenge

Hey Friends!

This week, I realized I wasn’t ready to write about this post.

When last you heard from me, RFID tagging was coming to an end.last week at my library.

If you’ve been following me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, then you’ve already seen our great progress!  If you’re just starting out on this thread of adventure, start with the first post here.

“So you weren’t ready to write this post?”

Well, I thought I was ready. I said that I would be discussing my final thoughts on tagging and inventory on this post, but I wasn’t planning on what happened next. Sure, some books would come in and need to be tagged, but I didn’t realize how many…

jaws-rfid

All four Jaws movies are on Netflix right now, BTW.

Books, DVDs, materials coming in left and right that need tagging…we turned one of our RFID carts from inventory into a mobile RFID command center to tag and program books as they come in. Add in the new books coming in, and you’ve got some work cut out for yourself.

BUT IT DOESN’T END THERE.

During the inventory, we couldn’t tell what books were marked lost, overdue, etc…this was purely tagging and programming, because we would come back for them later. You pretty much have three kinds of books in the mix:

  • Lost Books: Books patrons supposedly never turned back in and got charged for
  • Overdue books: Books that haven’t turned into lost books yet
  • Blank ??? books: Books that have a barcode, but don’t exist in our records

Since blank books aren’t in our system, we don’t have a name to go on – just a barcode. How do we track down a single barcode? With a pretty clever idea: we look at the book that was scanned before the blank book, find that book and grab the book next to it. Easy, right? Super easy! Except there’s one problem:

WHAT IF THE BOOK NEXT TO IT WAS IN THE WRONG AREA?

If it’s next to 641.23 BLOK and that book somehow wound up in the 940’s, then finding it becomes incredibly more difficult. In other words, this adventure has only just started and my team and I have much to do!

scott8

How I feel when asked to track down lost books.

If you still have any other problems, questions, issues, observations or more, it’s not too late to ask me! Ask me on here, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and I’ll cover them in next week’s post (for real this time).

That’s all for this week, stay out of the water…duh dum…duh-dum…

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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