Brash Jobs: RFID and Inventory, Week Two

Hey Friends!

So last week, I posted about my library starting our inventory and tagging our collection with RFID tags.

If you’ve been following me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, then you’ve already started to see my progress videos on how it’s going.

Great to hear! But just in case, tell me about this RFID thing because I didn’t read last week.”

Well, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses radio waves to automatically identify and track tags that contain electronically stored information. Libraries use them, Amazon uses them, and your dog probably has one, too. Just go back to last week’s post here, silly!

“So how did the process finally go?”

Well! We finished ahead of schedule! It was a ton of dedication and hard work, but we did it!

#RFID and #inventory is done! #Happy #Friday, y'all! #Books #library #librarian #work #snapchat #BrashLibrarian

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It was a fairly straight-forward process but there were a few things you guys had questions about, like staggering the tags and how the computer side of things worked.

We certainly picked up a few other tricks and ran into hiccups along the way, and I’ll be covering more those completely in next week’s post.

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.

That’s all for this week, time to really pull all this together and make a definite RFID guide!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: RFID and Inventory Has Begun!

Hey Friends!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, because this week is ALL about the Labor!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my library would be performing inventory for our branches and tagging our collection with RFID tags.

If you’ve been following me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, then you’ve already started to see my progress videos on how it’s going.

Day 1 of #RFID tagging and #inventory at the library! We're turning #books sideways as we tag them to keep track. More updates soon!

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That’s really cool! I’m a little lost though, what’s this RFID thing?”

Fair question! Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields and radio waves to automatically identify and track tags that contain electronically stored information. “Active” tags have a local power source like a battery and can still work from several hundred yards away. “Passive” tags just use ambient energy via radio waves from a close range RFID reader, and are the ones most libraries and retail stores use. Since it doesn’t need to be scanned like a barcode, RFID tags can be put inside the book, DVD, audio book, or any other object. 

RFID tags are used in many industries now. Like I said above, passive tags are great for retail stores. Some can get more technical like an RFID tag slapped on a car during to track its progress through the assembly line and warehouse; a Pfizer warehouse with RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals or can be tracked as it ships, just like Amazon does with its products. Got a dog or cat you had micro-chipped in case they went missing? That’s RFID, too.

“Hmmm, interesting. So what’s the actual process for getting it done?”

Well, it’s a fairly straight-forward process:

  1. Place an RFID tag inside the book.
  2. Scan the barcode to bring up the book’s information.
  3. Place the book on the RFID pad so the pad can program the corresponding information onto the RFID tag.

The original plan was to separate into 3-person teams as such:

  • One person grabs and opens the book
  • The second person tags it
  • The third person scans the barcode and programs the tag.

However, we brought in an RFID expert who has done this kind of collection conversion several times and recommended breaking the teams up and having everyone focus on one thing, as the assembly-line style is apparently slower. So to sum up his plan:

  • Start with one side of the library to tag and work your way over to the other side, tagging everything first
  • After about half the library is tagged or you’ve tagged an entire section (e.g. Fiction, Nonfiction, etc), half the people can keep tagging while the other half begin scanning barcodes and programming tags. They start on the same side and begin working their way across the library. By the time the last of the books are tagged, about half the books should be scanned and programmed by then.

As we go along, I’ll be covering any problems, questions, issues, observations and other things we encountered along the process. Got any questions about the process so far? Ask me on here, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

After we finish this branch, we have another next week. If you need me, you know where I’ll be!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Author Jennifer Martinez Returns!

Hey Friends!

This week, I’m taking a break for work stuff and focusing on one thing we all love: BOOKS.

Some of you may remember my friend and author Jennifer Martinez, whom I previously teamed up with to announce her debut novel, Don’t Kill Dinner.

don't kill dinner

Available on Amazon!

Jennifer is back with another book and asked a select group to reveal the cover on her newest book., Catch and Release. Of course, I was honored to be in such a group! I believe talented writers and artists of any kind should receive recognition for creating something the world can enjoy.

So let me tell you a little about her latest novel…

Lila is one of the last Succubi alive. After the anti-paranormal group known only as “Corporate” attacks her family’s tribe she is completely alone, until she meets Artie.
He knew better than to let his emotions get the best of him but with her he couldn’t help it. Now he is stuck with Lila and he can never tell if its the bond he forged or her choice that keeps them together. Corporate is closing in on the pair and the only option to save the two of them is to risk losing the only person he cares about.

“If you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were.”

Always hunt to Catch and Release.

catch and release

With a cover like that, you know it’ll be a movie at some point.

Want to see more of Jennifer? Take a look at her links below:

Jennifer Martinez Official Webpage
Jennifer Martinez on Facebook
Jennifer Martinez on Twitter
Jennifer Martinez on Amazon
Jennifer Martinez on Libboo
Jennifer Martinez on Pinterest
Jennifer Martinez on Wattpad

About the Author, Jennifer:

One day while slaving away at her monotonous day job, Jennifer Martinez found her true calling. Like a firefly in the night, the pages called to her. Once she caught the bug there was no stopping it. Her fingers flew furiously across the keyboard winding tales of love, mystery and anger. She snapped out of her reverie to find herself still behind the desk but at least she knew who she was… Author Jennifer Martinez.
I like to think of myself as a beautiful conundrum. When I am not writing, I can be found surrounded by my amazing family or doing yoga at the beach. I love who I am and don’t mind at all when I get strange looks from people. I am a tattoo covered, child and animal lover who looks forward to destroying peoples preconceived notions of what “someone like me” would be interested in. You only live life once… you may as well make it interesting.
I love to get lost in a good book and hope that everyone will get lost in mine.

jenn headshot

Always lookin’ sharp, this one.

That’s all I got for this week. Do you know an author who should be featured on Brash Librarian? Are YOU an author who wants to be featured? Let me know! Next time on BL, it’s going to be all business – the dreaded RFID and inventory. Stay brash like Jennifer and have a safe Labor Day weekend!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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Brash Jobs: MBA Program & Other Updates

Hey Friends!

Whew! Once again, I’m going through another week at a hundred miles an hour. This week has been focused on migrating to a new computer management system and the end of my summer MBA class. Add in somebody from reference who just put their 2 weeks notice in, and you’ve got some of us moving at super speed.

barry run

Snapshot of me on a Monday.

Work aside, school is going well. If you’ve been following my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then you’ve seen some of my school hi-jinks.

My first #HR exam wasn't so good, but it showed me how to prepare for exam 2. #MBA #IHRM #business

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When it came time for group projects, my extremely proactive teammates had already assigned team roles almost the moment teams were created. My team randomly nominated me as the editor for all the team responses.

Yes, give the writing/editing to the guy who writes his own material all the time.

MBA Group


What else is going on?

Well, some pretty big stuff if coming. Starting in about two weeks time, my library is going to inventory AND tag our books with RFID tags at the same time. I posted about our training session with a neighboring library system last week on Instagram and I got several responses asking the hows and whens of RFID tagging.

Here we go, #RFID tag #training at our #library has begun. #thefuture #technology #BrashLibrarian

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Rest assured, I will be posting about my experiences with it in the coming weeks. All the joy, sorrow, questions, problems and strategies that will help us get through this transition.

To answer a few of your questions thus far:

  • We are going with 3M. We tried and tested a few other companies out at ALA and TLA, but we found their tech to be the best for us.
  • The tagging consists of a regular bar code scanner, an RFID pad, a laptop, a translation module (that little magic box beneath the laptop and pad,), the tags to put inside the books, the 3M software, and a wooden or plastic cart.
  • NO METAL CARTS. The metal carts interfere with the radio frequency and cause errors when the pad is programming the tag.
  • We are borrowing spare RFID tech from a neighboring library system that has already made the transition.

Got more questions on it? Let me know and I’ll answer them on my social media and here as well!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian


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Brash Jobs: Better Library Leaders

Hey Friends!

WOW, I can’t remember the last time I was this busy. In the last week or two, I have:

  • Traveled to several libraries to look at RFID technology.
  • Rolled out new computer/print management software in the library, and all the bugs that includes.
  • Had 5 quizzes, one exam, a research paper, and preparing for another group project. (And that’s all just one class. Welcome to summer MBA classes.)
  • Performed a magic show for the Texas Children’s Hospital Back-to-School event at the local mall.

That little girl was SO happy! This was right before I blew her skeptical brother’s mind.

Despite being that busy, I still found time to sit down and speak with Dr. Sarah Clark over at Better Library Leaders, a podcast, blog, and Facebook community designed to explore the elements of great libraries and great library leaders. This week, Sarah and I discussed getting into libraries (particularly actors-turned-librarians), social media, our shared struggle of living as library celebrities, and more.

Listen to our conversation on her podcast here!


better library leaders

Awesome! This is totally going on my instagram and twitter, BTW.

Sarah has a PhD in Higher Education Leadership as well as an MLIS, and has worked in just about every job from front desk paraprofessional to associate library director. She provides helpful tips, insightful interviews, and other resources that will help you make your career (and your library) the best they can be. Public library? Academic? School? Some special offshoot? Not even in libraries yet? It’s cool, she’s still got stuff you could learn.

This all started when Sarah and I stumbled upon each other in the Facebook library community some time ago, and have tried to promote one another whenever possible. While being an actor is a cutthroat business, being library superstars like ourselves is (usually) not. Recently, Sarah asked me if I’d like to do a piece with her and I was honored. I’ve never been on a podcast before! I’ve done some stuff with my friends on film critic and comic book podcasts, but never anything library-related before.

Give it a listen here and tell me what you think. I want to hear from you: what’s most important to you? Let me know and I’ll follow up on what’s important to you! You can also let me know on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram what you’d like to see!

Alright, back to this computer/MBA circus I’m running, I hope you all enjoy listening to the podcast as much as we enjoyed making it!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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ALA: Hold Tight, People.

Heeeey Friends!

Whew, this last week or so has been wicked-mad-cool-sick-nasty-awesome! So in my last few posts, I’ve mentioned that I would be attending the American Library Association (ALA) conference this year in Orlando. If you’ve been following my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the past week, then you know that the last week or three has been krazy – that’s right, krazy with a K.


“Wow, Justin, it’s taken you awhile to get posts out.”

Yes it has, astute person! However, lets cover what’s been going on the last 3 weeks or so:

  • I went to ALA (more on that later)
  • I’ve been touring libraries throughout Houston looking at RFID technology (more on that later)
  • My library is switching over to a new computer management software – most people know ANY change in software is usually a nightmare (especially for patrons)
  • My summer MBA classes started
  • Building renovations and inventory are imminent
  • I did a podcast interview with Sarah Clark over at Better Library Leaders (more on that next time)
  • It’s summer time in general, AKA the busiest time of the year
han solo falcon

You said it, Han.

Yeah, whew! So before I have to get back into the fray, let’s talk about ALA.

“I’m not familiar with ALA, Justin. Tell me more!”

Well, person who just stumbled onto my site, the ALA conference is pretty much the biggest library conference of the year and is held in different locations all over the US; other places include San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and other big places that hold such a huge and awesome conference (like Orlando). While I have been to Florida and Texas library conferences (FLA and TLA, respectively), I have never been to an ALA conference.

Let’s start with I knew going in:

  • Conferences are awesome.
  • You get to make new friends. Yay, meeting new people, making new connections, getting to see new perspectives.
  • Free travel and hotel. Getting paid to drive somewhere and live away from home for a few days is a fun little adventure. Driving to TLA or FLA is always exciting!
  • Lots of learning. Sessions, round tables, presentations, demonstrations, workshops, and all that jazz.
  • Conferences usually have free food. You usually have be quick on your feet before it runs out.
  • Conferences sometimes have free drinks. Sure, I’ll take a mimosa!
  • Conferences have good swag. Stress balls, bracelets, flash drives, pens, and everything else you can find in the Oriental Trading Company catalog. (No disrespect! I love you, OTC.)
  • People try to sell stuff to you left and right. Some are more laid back, others can be a little more pushy, and some care about you as a person.
  • You get paid to do it. Living the dream, people!

So I should expect about the same at ALA, right?

actually no

ALA pretty much takes all the things I like about a conference, and turned them up to 11. Things I learned about ALA:

  • ALA conferences are AMAZING. No wonder everyone is always fighting to go!
  • You make ALL the new friends. I was lucky enough to meet tons of new library peeps, vendors and the like.
  • Travel and housing is super serious. Driving to into Houston for TLA or a 2 hour drive from Gainesville to Orlando for FLA is one thing, but being flown from Texas to Florida and given a hotel room for a week? That’s something else.
  • These guys don’t kid around when it comes to setting up. The exhibit hall at ALA was hustling and bustling getting ready for the opening. I don’t mean vendors with teeny tiny booths, I mean frickin’ forklifts bringing stuff in.

A week ago, I was looking at #ALA booths getting set up! #ALA2016 #occc #orlando #behindthescenes

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All the gadgets when finally set up are crazy cool! One example is PV Supa’s RFID tagging and book delivery systems.

I had a great time checking out PV SUPA's #RFID tagging and check in stations at #ALA2016 this year! #thefuture #ALA

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  • ALA has tons of free food. Pinwheels, cupcakes, egg rolls, ribs, cake. Not just cake, I’m talking white cake that has a vein of cream cheese frosting running through it.

Unloading more #ALA pics. Did I mention all the #food? #nomnom #ALA2016

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And that was just the first vendor, literally 10 steps inside the hall.

  • ALA has all the drinks. Champagne? Sure, okay. Beer? Oh, cool. Mimosas? Yum. Margaritas? Wow, ya’ll don’t play. When the drinks are right and the music’s playing, you just want to sing and be happy!

I couldn't resist #Elsa and her #frozen self. #LetItGo #sing #ALA #ALA2016 #brashlibrarian

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  • ALA has some twisted swag. Power banks, signed books, bags, holograms, flashlights, binoculars, headphones, ear buds, jewelry…

Bracelets and flash drives? More like bracelets that ARE flash drives!


Oni Press speaks to my childhood.

When it comes to best ensemble of swag, Ingram won without a doubt. Durable bags? Journals? Power banks? Bottled water? That’s a package deal that’s hard to beat.

#Ingram had the best #swag set. Power bank, bags and journals! #ALA #ALA2016

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“Bottled water? That’s not really swag I would want.”

Florida? In June? The water was a godsend, don’t even argue.

Library webcomic series Unshelved had a booth as well! You may recall my recent post regarding Copyright and Fair Use where I spoke to Angela and learned best practices for sharing their work. On Sunday morning, I got to meet Angela in person and buy one of their many awesome shirts. That star on my shirt? It’s actually Banned Book titles in you look closely!

freedom fighter

Want cool stuff like this? Click here to get it.

  • Top vendors don’t just care about selling you. Jamie Cutlip and the rest of the team over at Ingram make for the best example. Some of you have heard me talk about Jamie before – she’s brilliant, wily, professional, honest, and cares about you as a person. I’ve seen her visit smaller libraries and see how people are doing, even when she knew that their library had no money to buy anything. She appreciates the internal and external relationships between library systems, companies and people, which usually means she’s very connected on the grapevine. (Need juicy info? Want to know about libraries that are hiring? She’ll know who’s hiring before they advertise.) That kind of appreciation is why libraries buy from her when they finally have money.
  • Good vendors know how to make things happen. Jamie and her people invited me to dinner one of the nights, and they always make sure everyone mingles and has a great time. I can’t remember how many times I heard Jamie ask people, “Have you met Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian?” and convincing the restaurant that I’m a super star. (I don’t know about super star, but I’m getting there.) I met plenty of new friends/contacts/future associates. (I’m looking at you, Brian, Suvi…Jim… Rachel…Janice…) To quote Michael Gambon in the film Layer Cake, “The art of good business is being a good middleman.” Thanks for being the best in business, Jamie.
  • Non-library people are totally blown away. The great thing about coming to ALA this year is that it was hosted in Florida! For those who don’t know, I lived in Florida for nearly half my life and most of my family/friends live there. Among the people I got to show the beauty of ALA include one of my best friends Caitlin and my nephew, Trevor. Like most non-library people, they’ve never been to a library conference and expected a bunch of book nerds just standing around. BOO. 

To say the least, I think they were impressed!

1st day of #ALA #ALA2016, I think they liked it. #work #conference #library

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Give Trevor a hand, everyone – he’s going into the Marines!

  • I’m still getting paid to be here, but also flown and housed. Driving to into Houston for TLA or a 2 hour drive from Gainesville to Orlando for FLA is one thing, but being flown from Texas to Florida and given a hotel room for a week? That’s something else.

My #Hilton Hotel room for #ALA #ALA2016 thanks, #work! #charmedlibrarylife #library

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My work put me up in a place with granite counter tops, balcony, and executive hotel services with discount tickets. Tickets to take my nephew to Universal? $140 per person after taxes. Tickets after some sweet talking to the Hilton desk people? $15 per person. As in FIFTEEN. 


$30 > $280 in this case!

“Wait, so you did other things besides library stuff?”

Absolutely! You have to remember, ALA caters to all libraries – academic, public, school, private, etc – which means not everything will be for you. OH, a workshop on cataloging trends and changes in academic libraries? That would be awesome…if I worked in cataloging, or academic libraries for that matter. Some days are more heavy on the academic stuff, and some are more geared towards public library things. Sunday wasn’t a super-heavy public library day, so I decided to take my nephew that day.

I also had the pleasure of seeing my friend Meredith Myers, though most of you know her as The Standup Librarian if you’ve followed my adventures! We were lucky enough to find a place that combined my love of video games and a good beer into one place: Player 1 Video Game Bar. From 80s arcade games to 90s shooter games to new stuff like Playstation 4 and Xbox One, it had all the games you could ever ask for (if that’s your kind of thing.)

@standuplibrarian getting her drank on. #workinghard #wedeservethis #ALA #ALA2016 #standuplibrarian #brashlibrarian

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With all the fun said and done, I finally said goodbye to family and flew back home with all my extra prizes from ALA. Yes, ALL the prizes.

I got so much #swag from #ALA #ALA2016, I brought home an extra bag. #charmedlibrarylife #brashlibrarian

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Feeling differently about library conventions now? Ready to fight your coworkers for a spot at next year’s ALA? I want to hear your opinions! Don’t forget to stop by Better Library Leaders, Ingram and Standup Librarian’s places on your way out!

Next time on BL: Could be RFID, could be MBA stuff, we’ll see.

Have a great week everyone,

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian



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Batten Down The Hatches. It’s Summer Time!

Hey Friends!

Whew! This last week has been a blur. If you’re in public libraries, then you know that we’ve just entered the roughest, toughest, busiest time of the year. That’s right, the annual Summer Reading Program (SRP). For the last few months, we’ve started our planning and decorating, knowing the huge influx of kids we were about to have.


To keep things easier and more coherent, most state libraries agree on a certain theme nationally. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you might have read my post about last year’s SRP.

Contrary to popular belief, the American Library Association (ALA) DOES NOT decide the themes, but often works with the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) or the Illinois Reading Enrichment and Development (iREAD) program.

(You can read about it all here if you really want.)

Previous themes have been “Dig into Reading” for those like dinosaurs and/or buried treasure, “Spark A Reaction” to get kids into science, and lots of other generic themes. Last year’s theme was “Escape The Ordinary”, which I think was the greatest one ever. From what I’ve seen in the library field so far, a superhero theme is really, really tough to beat. This year’s theme? “Exercise Your Mind“, a sports theme.

summer reading_n

I’m sorry, but I’m not loving this theme. Maybe it’s just my perspective, but I think this theme was poorly thought out. As a kid who wasn’t exactly athletic, I turned to things like chess, trivia, books and other intellectual pursuits because I stuck with what I excelled at. Come to think it, most book/library loving people that I know got into books because sports wasn’t their interest and/or forte as kids. Isn’t this how we got the “nerd vs jock” dichotomy? Isn’t there was a documentary about this?


Okay, maybe “documentary” was a stretch.

Sure, there are plenty of people out there who have a passion and talent for both sports and books, but I’ve seen that most kids fall to into one or the other. For some kids, this theme might be the opportunity to maybe try new sports and expand their horizons; for the more insecure kids who dive into books to escape sports, they may feel pressured like this theme is being thrust upon them in a “jocks invading the library” kind of way.

I was a bit of both – I turned to books because I wasn’t very good at sports, but books helped me learn about other sports that I’d come to like. I eventually found out that I’m really good at weightlifting (but mostly because I hated running at the time). Maybe I got into it because I started reading about it? Books + weights = informed weightlifter? I’d guess so, because that’s how I joined the high school weight lifting team.


NOW we’re talking!

Reading about mud and obstacle runs like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race inspired me to start running, more because of the challenge than anything else. As it turns out, I’m pretty good at it!

However, I think I’m good at it because I’m not competing against other people but against myself to be better than where I was before. Maybe the moral of the story is to read about sports until you find the right one for you. Yeah, I can roll with that!

“Justin, focus. Summer reading?”

Thanks, narrative voice in my head.

To kick off this year’s SRP, I was the main attraction with my super-rockin-awesome-wicked-mad-cool magic show. So cool, I had a patron try to pay me $20 because I have “dedication, attention, and great diction so those of us with hearing aids could understand ever word”…all that stage acting and practice projecting has yet again paid off. I told him I could not take any money, so he donated it to the library instead.

magic show_o

I’m building quite a following!

This isn’t the first time this has happened, but I still appreciate that they express how much they enjoy library programs. As one coworker told me, “you’ll never be fired because you make us too much money”. Sounds good to me, can we buy more magic tricks?

Ah, magic – now THERE’S a super power if I’ve ever heard of one. Speaking of superheroes…

batman summer


I miss you, superhero theme from last year! Come baaaaack!

How do you feel about this year’s SRP? Love it? Hate it? Ambiguously ambivalent?

What are you guys doing for your SRP? Got cool programs, displays or other stuff going on? Let me know on below or talk to me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share your opinions and ideas!

Til next time,

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian




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