The Spinning Heart – Donal Ryan

Having first heard of The Spinning Heart, from Sarah-Davis Goff as she was appearing on RTE radio 1’s Arena show. She spoke of The Spinning Heart with such love, and how the journey through the book was really touching.  The co-publisher for this book is The Lilliput Press, Dublin with Sarah being a previous employer she spoke of Ryan’s second novel being “a hidden gem”.

This novel, has 21 characters, spanning 21 chapters, in the centre is 1 person the very first character. Ryan writes like no other, he writes of these people and this particular setting with words and dialogue that mirrors Ireland is in so many contexts.

In one sentence Ryan makes your heart crumble, in one sentence Ryan makes you laugh so loud, and with just that one sentence Ryan makes you cry.

Talking in the character’s voice of Bobby, he describes his friend Seanie and how his dad’s smile felt to Bobby as a kid, Ryan hits you with simple yet powerful sentences like; “he would warm you with it”, in another sentence Ryan is talking in reference to his wife; “you can say things to your wife that you never know you thought. It comes out of you when the person you’re talking to is like a part of yourself” – MAGICAL!

The book is what I would call a series of links that make up a chain of a community that has been torn and broken by the recession, in particular, the property boom. He gives you a sense that it could be a part of rural Ireland (with one reference to Portumna) that got a ‘facelift’ by the many new estates and massive houses that were built within the Celtic Tiger.

At the core of the book is Bobby, and surrounding him are the many people who each gave their account of what has happened to them within this community. There are many small references that you need to take note of as they will be used again further on in the book (the character Réaltín is referred to by the character Brian) you find out who is who and what they are really doing through this circle around Bobby.

It touches on the harsh and tough welcomes Ireland gave to many eastern Europeans that moved to Ireland in the boom and how their journey led them to this so-called Promised Land. Ryan also shows the brutal goodbye Ireland gave to the many Irish that left this country in search of ‘a better life’ even though Ireland at this time was the best life possible, mountains of money and they go looking for more, the cheek!

Today in how this big balloon has burst and with it has sent many an Irish person flying to another ‘better place’ yet again looking for what is rightly theirs; a good life, they just don’t have the choice of where this life should be. Ryan shows though the eyes of Vasya how people belong to their native country and how Vasya address this community he is within; “these people are fixed, rooted, bound to a certain place”.

The story of this community widens out as you move through the book. The circle expands to people who are, in some way a weak link to Bobby. They take on a voice that is in a way a secret, a silent piece of gossip added in for your benefit to make you, the reader part of that community. Through the book, you as the reader react to it which keeps you reading and wondering what character you will meet next like you are going to the local shop.

I loved the way Ryan plays with the Irishness of a culchie and city person. And it is true how we view each other and make it that a city person is somewhat more developed than a country person, and how city people are just ignorant.

The story of The Spinning Heart, is pure love, loss, anger, guilt, pain, hurt, stupidity. How we as humans can spin our loved ones heart in so many ways. It gives voice to the mind of the old Irish way and one that as a reader I can truly relate to and understand.

The book is the mind of many Irish and how that mind is changing. The old Irishness of the 1950’s and how our parents were brought up. How they passed on their views to the next generation will not be passed on to the next generation. That spell can be broken and the heart will spin with an ease and comfort. In many ways, there will be an element of this Irish quietness that will stay with the Irish people the quietness that Ryan leaves in The Spinning Heart as you close the book.


Introduction to Information

The above video is Mike Eisenberg of the iSchool in Washington, while searching for a video I was hoping to find something that reflected what my profession does, however to simplify the topic of “Information Studies”.

Mr. Eisenberg speaks about the transformation of information and how we got to this point, he brings in

1. Information Production and how this increased over time

2. Information Storage and how this also increased over time

3. Information transmission being the fastest of all to adapt

4. Human Comprehension which to truly amaze us has not changed one bit.

As librarians we need to keep meeting these changes and find how people now interact with information.

I hope you like this introduction to information and how society is changing around it and how libraries are now more than ever at the core to this new switch in society.




New Blogs

This amazing new MOOC has recently started, and I found it through another library professional Michelle Dalton by chance and I have to say I am truly grateful to her for adding it into her blog post.

I only began engaging during the end of this week and already I have found numerous social media tools some that I have always been meaning to learn but never did however now because of the amount of information that is flying past me I want to save it and share it throughout the week.

#moocie posts various challenges throughout the week so far I am completing #2 and am choosing new professionals for #3 as I  feel the amount of  people I am following on Twitter is getting very large and I don’t want to make the mistake by checking in with a selected few.

So challenge #2 is a fun and engaging way of utilising Twitter, as the #moocie is for everyone not just library people I am finding it inspiring to see so many people blog, tweet, share their concerns or accomplishments within their selected profession.

One such tweet and blog which I was delighted to see is from Stephanie Mullane

I have had an interest in how teachers teach nowadays, and I feel my two friends who are teachers are really fed up with me asking questions!

So I hope I have made an online teacher friend who may help me understand today’s world of teaching.


Learning librarianship.

Having finished the MLIS in 2013 the decision to keep these skills active was urgent. I needed to showcase these skills outside the confines of an institution. Also I now had the opportunity to utilise my free time while searching for a full-time position.

In 2013 I embarked on developing my skills in a different way to what I have envisioned. Furthermore  I had enrolled for the “Hyperlinked Library MOOC” from San Jose State University so the transition from a student of the School of Library and Information Studies to becoming a facilitator was a strange yet exciting process.

However this process change my perspective on many elements of librarianship. Becoming involved in a global learning tool really opened my mind to the diversity of society’s mind and informational needs.

Having finished both the teaching and the learning I have found myself seeking literature surrounding these elements. These articles documented how librarians showcase how they reach out to teachers and guide them alongside their students. Librarians together with the ambitions of the teacher can utilise both of their skills in order to harness their students self-efficacy.

There are many ways this can be achieved. After some research into school librarianship and how librarians can introduce their skills into the many Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)that are now available, I shall outline how I can build on my skills and bring them forward into my career of librarianship.

The starting point of my research began by merging two aspects of librarianship that being academic and school libraries. Here the core goals of a librarian is to facilitate the teacher and the student.

Here I began my search with librarian bloggers and to my delight I came across Buffy Hamilton’s post which illustrates “librarians as instructional designers” (Hamilton, 2013). According to Hamilton the key to building a partnership with teachers is to adopt the Principles of backward design as a springboard for the students and a template for the teacher in order to progress at each stage of the project. This allows to secures two fundamental components of teaching: Identifying Common goals & Cultivating trust (Hamilton, 2013).

Moving away from the framework of a classroom based teaching to a more open and independent approach to learning again involving librarians and teachers. This relatively new approach to online learning has only surfaced in the last 5 years (Chant, 2013) a definition has been given by EDUCAUSE Library (2013) stating a MOOC is simply “a model for delivering learning content online to any person who wants to take a course, with no limits on attendance”.

During the small time of teaching, my purpose was very clear in every activity and this purpose will stay with me throughout my career. This purpose is clearly mapped by Cantwell (2013) here she showcases how librarians can adapt their individual purposes in this emerging online learning environment. One finding within her research mirrors my personal purpose of librarianship, here she employs the idea of the role of a librarian as an information consultant as an individual who “cultivates active partnerships with students and scholars, collaborating on the design of meaningful learning experiences for students and providing relevant value-added information” (Frank, Raschke, Wood, Yang, pg.90, 2001).

Taking this purpose a step forward and marrying the above elements, however giving them the context of a public library, would the librarians strength of purpose be too ambitious? Cant (2013) gives many examples of how MOOCs have been introduced into a public library. Consider how certain programs that run throughout many libraries, now consider the way many elements of MOOCs can link readers and communities to other services within the library in person and virtually.

If libraries are adjusting their vision to incorporate the many elements of technology we as librarians have to keep abreast of the many new elements of learning guidelines. Taking Montiel-Overall & Grimes (2013) vision on 21st Century Learner Guidelines declaring that “librarians must be sure to target their information literacy instruction toward essential twenty-first century learning skills, to collaborate with members of the community and to implement inquiry-based learning approaches regarding the information search process”.

In conclusion, if my goals as a librarian are to cultivate the above ideas, until my time comes where I have the opportunity to establish these ideas in a working environment I shall keep searching for the best practises and examples to expand my self-efficacy.


B Hamilton. (2013, December 6).  Librarians as Instructional Designers: Strategies for engaging conversations for learning. [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Cantwell, L. (2013). “MOOL” in a MOOC: Opportunities for Librarianship in the Expanding Galaxy of Massive Open Online Course Design and Execution. Policy Studies Organisation, 2, 47-71.

Chant, I. (2013). Opening up/ Next steps for MOOCs and Librarians. Library Journal, 1-4. Retrieved from

EDUCAUSE Library. (2013). Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Retrieved from

Montiel-Overall, P., & Grimes, K. (2012). Teachers and Librarians collaborating on inquiry-based science instruction: A longitudinal study. Library & Information Science Research, 35 (1), 41-53.