Wednesday, 28 February 2018

When Everything Feels Like the Movies by Raziel Reid (Book Review)

Raunchy, riotous and real” (James Dawson, author of This Book is Gay)

Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award in 2014, Raziel Reid is the youngest ever winner of this award. Calls for the award to be stripped because of the books content have thankfully been ignored.

This is the story of Jude, a junior high school aged boy who is flamboyantly gay and very comfortable with his sexuality even though very few of his peers are. His best friend is a self acclaimed “Slut” and his family is a mess.

It reads quite well and is fast paced. You get drawn into the World of Jude but when he retreats into his fantasy World of movies to hide from what’s really going on around him it can get a bit confusing. But, maybe this is indicative of life in the 21st century for teenagers, with so much going on around them they probably have to retreat at times. From about the halfway point, I realised the book was building to something huge and this is the only reason I kept reading but the ending was, unfortunately, very predictable.  At about 160 pages it’s a quick read and I read it at one sitting, although if I was a slower reader I would be compelled to keep reading to find out what happens.

It’s the debut novel for Raziel Reid ( and is certainly not shy or modest in anyway. In my opinion the book is crass, violent and unnecessarily graphic, but it is viewed as a book with subject matter that is important, relevant and perfectly appropriate for young adults. I disagree. Whilst I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting banning or limiting its availability to young adults, I think it is more suited to the 15+ teens. Whilst I like books that push the envelope, it’s constant vulgarity and page filled jock-shock just doesn’t work. It’s like if a friend rarely curses and then shouts out – Oh for FxxK’s SAKE – you pay attention but the friend that can’t say a sentence without some expletive you ignore. A little less in this book would have been better.

It is so important to question violence and homophobia and to initiate debate but I don’t think this book should be the starting point. This book is loosely based on the real story of Larry Fobes King who was shot in school after asking his crush to go to Valentines with him so either his story, that of Matthew Shepard or in Ireland the story of Declan Flynn would be a better starting point to start a debate.

For those who don’t know who Declan Flynn was check HERE

A quote from the original article reads - Bonfires were lit and street parties were held in celebration in Fairview as the five murderers returned home to heroes’ welcomes

33 years later, people laid flowers at the bench Declan sat at before he was murdered on the day Ireland voted YES for Marriage Equality.

There are moments in the book where there are cracks in Jude’s armour, in his fantasy World and there are moments of gentleness, protectiveness and reality which are really important. However, the overpowering style of the book stops you seeing these important moments. For this reason I give it a 7 out of 10 planets.

Other LGBT books I have reviewed are

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan HERE

Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde HERE

Noah Can't Even by Simon James Green HERE

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli HERE

John the Captain Ryan

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Library Professional Groups (Thing 21)

What professional groups are out there...

I decided to do exercise 2.

2a. Subscribe to a social media account of a professional body of your choice.  I chose 3 as follows: 

Library Association of Ireland FACEBOOK & TWITTER


2b. Did you learn anything new about that organisation after joining?  Was it useful?

LAI – I assumed because I have no library qualifications I would not be able to join the LAI. Delighted to find I can join and will do so shortly. Looking forward to attending some of the events and meeting other library staff.

CILIP – I’ve seen “CILIP” but didn’t even know what the acronym meant.  Woowoo. It means Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. I know nothing about them but hope to learn more in the next few weeks.

ALA – American Library Association - I’ve already done a lot of research on their website so know a lot about them. Obviously the situations in US, UK & Ireland are hugely different due to the massive funding cuts they have both been experiencing in comparison to Ireland but it’s important to know what’s happening around the World. To quote Jim Rettig (ALA past president)

“What happens to one type of library effects us all. Library communities around the country need to become a unified voice, ready to advocate for all libraries”.

The ALA have a huge amount of fantastic information and reports about providing services and resources to the LBGT library patron.

2c. Reach out to that organisation on social media.

I sent a tweet and posted the following message on each Facebook page & to each Twitter of the three organisations listed as follows:;

“Hi, just saying hello from Wexford in Ireland. I’m a Library Assistant and currently studying a self-directed online course about online tools in particular social media tools and learn about what's current in the ever changing web 2.0 sphere. #Rudai23 #WRSLAI”

I am awaiting responses.


John The Captain Ryan

Advocacy in the Library - Thing 20

A lot done, more to do...

This was a huge lesson with a vast amount of information (maybe too much) so in response I’ve a huge blog about it. I managed to do 8 out of 9 of the exercises.

Exercise 1: Name three detrimental effects to a local community when a public library is closed.

Many areas of our community suffer if a library is closed or even when the library hours are shortened. These include:

1a. Literacy and reading ability in children. When children are deprived of free access to books there reading levels drop. This is why there is such an emphasis on the summer reading challenge, keeping children reading during the summer. The “Summer Slide” affects those children from disadvantaged areas, who can least afford a reduction in their reading ability and studies in America (Cooper, Nye, Charlton, Lindsay, & Greathouse, 1996) show that a child can lose a staggeringly one and a half years worth of reading ability during 6 years of primary education during the summer holidays. This would be made worse if libraries closed and the problem would be compounded in disadvantaged areas.

1b. The library is a social hub of the community. During the best of times and the worst of times the library is the hub of any community. With the very mundane (we are 2 days away from landfall of Storm Emma) the library is a place for people to congregate, get warm and charge their mobile phones. Then we have essential links the library provide for those people who are lonely, unemployed, in education (both first timers and those returning) and every other aspect of everyday life, the library is one of the only places left for the community to get together and share time and ideas with each other.

(image courtesy of Carnegie Trust)

1c. IT facilities and skills. The library is an essential link to the vast & growing world of technologies. We provide free access to the internet (essential in many areas in Ireland outside of the “The Pale”) especially in areas without a decent broadband connection. But take a step back, one objective of the library in Wexford to have a base level of physical equipment in all our branches and to continually provide basic IT skills (classes and workshops) to those in need. Ensuring an IT literate population and workforce, is, in my opinion one of the most important things the library can do to help the community, particularly for the vast numbers of unemployed. (Wexford has the 3rd lowest number of people going to third level education and one of the highest levels of unemployment in Ireland). Closing the libraries in Wexford would be devastating for the future prospects of Wexford’s workforce. Through the Work Matters program the Library is also playing a key role in tackling the unemployment problems in Wexford.

Exercise 2: Find a Library Strategic Plan in Ireland or beyond for a library of any size.  Identify three ways in which the strategic plan also advocates for the Library Service.

This is a silly exercise, if the strategic plan has been done properly; taking into consideration all National and Local plans & initiatives coupled with the needs of each community the Library supports, well then the whole plan should advocate for the Library Service. Surely, they should be one in the same.

Anyway, I looked at the Hamilton Library and the Strategic Plan because New Zealand is comparable to Ireland in lots of ways plus they have a current up-to-date plan, i.e. 2015-2025. In Ireland lots of counties are waiting for the new National Plan before publishing their own. It can be found HERE 

Three projects they hope to work on that helps advocate for the library are:

2a. CONTINUE TO BUILD THE DIGITAL AND PRINT COLLECTIONS AND SUPPORT LIBRARY USERS TO ACCESS THEM. This helps meet the current needs of the community, increases peoples IT skills and builds the digital collection which is of course a direct link to the manner in which we access information (i.e. digitally rather than on paper)

2b. DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A MARKETING PLAN FOR THE LIBRARIES. This speaks for itself, a comprehensive communications plan constantly (and consistently across all mediums) promotes what the library does.

2c. IMPLEMENT EFFECTIVE SYSTEMS TO ENSURE THE FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY AND REPUTATION OF OUR LIBRARIES. If done properly, this guarantees the future of the service but also keeps the library to the forefront of people’s minds (especially elected representatives). Rather than being reactive to a threat in the service, constantly seeking for and gaining recognition for the work the library does should stop any threats from even being mooted..

Exercise 3: Name three ways in which you can demonstrate the impact and value of the library service that you work in or use.

This is more difficult and problematic. Rather like Ray Bradbury’s intrinsic quote of “finding oneself” it’s hard to quantify. We know that education and literacy skills are the golden key. We know that having access to books, historical documents and computers/internet are really important but how to demonstrate it is a different matter. For example, I cannot unequivocally state that of the 100’s of people who attend IT skills workshops, and of those that get a new job, this is purely because of the course we provided. 

But, on further investigation, I have found some good ways to measure the value of reading & literacy (see slideshare , Presentation by Carol Tenopir)

3a. Implied Value. By providing statistics to library use we can infer a knowledge gain by the community. From children’s literacy to a local business developing their long term plans, thus growing their business and employing more staff to the knowledge gained when new academic work is published, these are all things facilitated by the library. In fact some of these gains may never occur without both the facilities and staff in the library.

3b. Explicit Value. How much would it cost a private company or someone to provide the books, facilities and building of a library? Wexford library has about 388,000 items in stock. This would cost millions to replace and that’s not even considering the buildings, equipment and staff.

3c. Derived Value. This is more difficult to show as it touches more on long-term gain and intrinsic value, these impacts can be shown with the results from surveys and the open-ended questions library users are asked. Having regular and well publicised surveys and questionnaires, are, in themselves a great way to get people to realise how good a service we provide. Examples in Wexford (survey December 2016 of 1,195 responses) are;

·       Fantastic staff in library, always available and offering help to everyone.
·       Our library is a very valuable asset and serves the community very well
·       Your services have improved so much over the years and you have some wonderful passionate staff working in the libraries. Younger members need to see this passion! Continue the good work and strive to be better
·       Don't introduce a librarian free library. Good Librarians are the heart of the library service. Machines can't take the place of a person.
·       Staff excellent, very good customer service particularly with computer assistance and local knowledge and advice.
·       I think the service is excellent. I studied as a mature student and was so impressed by your academic books.
·       The library has been a wonderful resource for me since I arrived in Wexford 2 years ago. I have participated in many of your courses. I was living in London before I retired here and saw the library service being decimated so I really hope you can continue to carry on this excellent service.

Exercise 4: Identify three key people (name their role) outside of the library in the wider organisation/community that you need to network with in order to advance the development of the Library Service.

4a. Kevin Lewis, chief executive of Waterford & Waterford Education and Training Board. Link up with the WWETB to provide and promote a wide variety of courses to meet the educational and training needs of Wexford people.

4b. Enda Kavanagh, chief executive Wexford Chamber of Commerce – co-ordinate and provide a wide variety of services with existing local business & potential start-ups.

4c. Minister Brendan Howlin, (only Wexford TD to ever do anything good for Wexford).

Exercise 5: Write down in 200 words or less an idea for Library Ireland Week for a library you work in or use.

I skipped this question. When you look at the LAI’s website the most up-to-date information is for the 2016 week. There is no information on dates, topics or themes. The only thing there is information on is who is on the board. (HERE). I have no previous knowledge or experience of Library Ireland Week to guide me.

Exercise 6: In your opinion what are the three best features of the My Library, My Right Campaign and why?

6a. I think having a co-ordinated plan and the possible result of hundreds of people tweeting, emailing and letter writing with the same message has the potential to really impact the decision makers. A similar example to this is during the Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland in 2015, there was a clear message plan provided for all the YES Equality teams around the country to combat propaganda and have a cohesive message at the same time. Remember the videos everyone started posting like “Ask you Granny” and the #HometoVote campaign?

6b. There is great information put together under “The Value of Public Libraries” to help people understand and advocate for the service especially the infographic on “What makes a great library service for the 21st century” HERE 

6c. I also liked the poster with the call for action (i.e. #MyLibraryByRight ) HERE 

Exercise 7: In 200 words or less, describe a new area of librarianship that you are passionate about. How would you go about promoting it within the library that you work in and/or the wider library profession?

I want to help develop the LGBT resources we have. I say resources rather than books. Young LGBT people need to be able to locate the books they need themselves, they should have access to information on support groups and social groups. The staff also needs awareness training and if there are any LGBT staff in libraries it would be great if they were out and able to provide support. Following Thing 17, I have identified a deficit in both our collection and the manner in which we catalogue same. I plan on reading as many LGBT titles as possible, reviewing them and providing that list to every library in Ireland. I have also contacted the Irish Queer Archive and offered my extensive knowledge and expertise in digitising the collection. I am going to identify the LGBT titles that could be better catalogued and provide a buying list for libraries. Once I develop my ideas better I will approach my line manager to discuss them. I am also fascinated by the recent launch by UCD of their new Gender Identity and Expression Policy and am going to investigate how we can approach the issue. This is a huge area for staff awareness training.

Exercise 8: Choose an area of library practice that you feels requires debate.

Developing LGBT resources and better cataloguing the available stock. Have a display in their branches during Pride Month.

Exercise 9: Open up the ALA Frontline Advocacy Plan. Complete the plan for a real/fictional advocacy campaign.

What is your goal?
 Improve the LGBT resources the library provides

What are your objectives?
·       Have more resources that are easier to find.
·       Help LGBT people feel more part of their community.
·       Visibility of LGBT resources with awareness & normalise the idea of LGBT people in the community. 
·       Increasing awareness and education.

·       Have a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment, make LGBT staff and users of the service feel more welcome and protected.
What are your strategies?
·       Identify existing stock and how it is catalogued.
·       Suggest updates to catalogue.
·       Identify stock that needs replacing.
·       Review new LGBT books and create a recommended list (used for purchasing material and also libraries can publish the list).
·       Provide a comprehensive list of resources for LGBT people.
·       During Pride month (June) have displays and exhibitions details the history of LGBT people in Ireland and around the World and available resources in the library and community
·       Particular attention needs to be paid to the older LGBT population, particularly in rural areas where isolation is a huge problem. 

What is your message?
Improving the lives of LGBT people in Wexford and provide them with a safe space.

What data (or stories) support this message?
The fact that if you google; LGBT & Library & Ireland you get very few results is an indication in itself that much work needs to be done. At a minimum, there should be at list of titles for people to read, services, facilities and events of interest to the LGBT community. The internet is the first port of call for any young people these days, therefore this lack of information sends a really bad message.

We need to understand the history of the LGBT rights movement and the irish perspective -

We should have a day to celebrate LGBT history - HERE

Whilst by law, we have equality and protection in Ireland, this is not the case around the World and we need a forum to remind people about this - HERE

Similar to how Ray Bradbury found himself in the library, we have a similar quote by Jerry Kosinski - “Here was one place where I could find out who I was and what I was going to become. And that was the public library.” - HERE 

Here is an interesting article from the ALA - HERE  

Who is your target audience? 
·       LGBT Population, their families & friends
Why should they care?
They need reliable, up-to-date information, books and resources that is provided in a non-judgemental way in a safe environment.

How are you going to reach them? What will be your best tools?
·       Use all forms of social media & websites.
·       Provide information to schools, youth groups & community centres of the resources we have. (email, newsletter and posters)
·       Displays and exhibitns during Pride month
·       Better catalogued stock

Wow, that’s it. I read through this Thing 3 times before I even attempted doing it. It could have been broken up a little. Anyway, that was fun. A lot done, more to do.

Toodles for now.

John The Captain Ryan

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Movie Reviews - Black Panther, Jigsaw & Greatest Showman

"I know it will inspire people of all backgrounds to dig deep and find the courage to be heroes in their own stories" (Michelle Obama tweeting about Black Panther)

I've watched 3 movies in the last week so here is a podcast reviewing them.

Hope you enjoy

Jigsaw gets

Greatest Showman gets

and Black Panther gets

John The Captain Ryan

Thing 19 - Podcasting

Podcasting, I loved it. I'd previously done a couple with a friend to promote the Wexworlds Festival but he did all the techy work, so, I downloaded Audacity, watched a few youtube how-to videos and gave it a shot.

Here it is.

Great fun.

John the Captain Ryan

Monday, 19 February 2018

Thing 18 - Reflective Practice

Oh no, another one of these...

I have mixed feelings about these reflective exercises, of all the “Things”, these are the exercises I least look forward to. Picking up on one of the downsides John Cox writes about – that of over-analysis – I figured out this is why I don’t like these exercises.

As someone that for many years, with few friends or peers I spent a lot of time in my own head, I over-analysed things to death. I used to spend many hours every night, awake, not counting sheep, but over thinking the smallest things in my life, basically worrying myself to sleep. Ya! That was healthy.

Finally I figured out to ask myself two questions;

·       1. How does this affect me and/or
·       2. Is this something out of my control

These questions helped me “put-to-bed” a lot of things I worried about and allowed me to concentrate on those things that affected me the greatest that I could do something about. I was probably 25 before I figured this out after 15 years of being stuck in my head in circular arguments and worries. When it boiled down to it, it’s amazing the number of things we worry about that we can do absolutely nothing about so we have to learn to just let things run their course. I’m over 40 now and STILL get nightmares about the leaving cert exam. Go! The Irish Education System. Instilling fear and nightmares for life!

It’s really funny how one thing leads to another when you are on the internet, just browsing and something grabs your attention. I was looking for a nice picture to start this exercise with, (one of reflection) which lead me to THIS and then this article caught my eye. My thesis in college was comparing the Theory versus Practical experience of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

After reading this article I came to realise how close the Rudai21 course is to meeting people’s needs through technology


The last four exercises have been about:

Thing 14 - Personal Information Management. Using different apps to manage your life, timetable and to-do-list.
Thing 15 - Evaluating information and using the example of Wikipedia. We looked at how as library professionals we can change the perception of it’s weaknesses.
Thing 16 - My digital footprint, looking after, protecting and managing your online presence and 
Thing 17 - Sharing a slideshow.

Feelings & Evaluation.

I didn’t like Thing 14, I prefer to use old fashioned methods to manage my life (handwriting a shopping list) and dislike having multiple apps and programs having access to every aspect of my life. I also thought the title was misleading. On a first reading I though the exercise was about “managing (i.e. security & accuracy) the information that was available about you online. If you have multiple devices some of these apps would be useful.

Thing 15 (Wikipedia) was ok but I still think Wikipedia should employ information professional to fix the problems with Wikipedia rather than asking Librarians to do the job.  I think if libraries had more funding and resources to make their collections more accessible online this would do away with the need to go to Wikipedia as a first port of call.

Thing 16 was good but it should have been one of the earlier exercises, we shouldn’t have been working on our online presence with Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram and LinkedIn without first covering one’s online presence. I would suggest that this should be Thing 1 in the future.

Thing 17, sharing a slideshow was cool. I enjoyed this exercise and found it really easy (that is sharing the slideshow). Of course because I didn’t have a slideshow to share I had to create one which has given me an interesting project to do in the future.

Analysis & Conclusion.

I found little use for the apps in Thing 14 and will not be using any of them in the future.

Thing 15. I will still use Wikipedia as a first port of call when researching anything. I would like to learn more and will probably watch some more how-to videos about creating and editing articles. I’m against Librarians and Information Professionals being used to fix the mistakes in Wikipedia. I do however see the advantage of getting a group of volunteers together and doing a session, tackling a particular area and blitzing it for the day. This would be something I wouldn’t mind heading up.

Thing 16, my digital footprint was good but this should be Thing 1. I am fairly careful with my online presence but still need to what actions I should take if my laptop or mobile phone is stolen or lost.

Thing 17 was cool and it gave me an interesting project to get stuck into this year. Expect to see a much better selection of LGBT titles in Wexford by the end of the year.

Action Plan.

Ironically, after the last few exercises I have a to-do-list (and could use one of the apps from Thing 14)

1.       Learn more about Wikipedia, maybe organise a volunteer day to tackle a subject
2.       Invesitgate what to do if my laptop/phone is missing
3.       Look into the LGBT titles in Wexford Library.

To return to where this all started, the Rudai23 course has covered most of Maslow’s Heirarchy of needs. Here I’ve compared both...

Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this course and Things 14-17 were interesting. When looking at everything covered so far, you can see we have done so much. If there was one “Thing” that should be done for the next course is that Thing 16 should be moved to Thing 1.

I love blogging and my latest entry has had 1,535 views in 3 days.


John The Captain Ryan.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Sharing a Presentation - Thing 17

Down the rabbit hole I went...


Facing a Rudai21 Thing, but having no presentations or talks to upload “presented” me with a problem. After seeking advice from my course coordinator, she advised I could share (after gaining permission of course) somebody else’s presentation; I started looking for a presentation around the whole area of LGBT.

In the meantime, after reading the awesome book – Simon v’s the Homo Sapiens Agenda – I decided to read more LGBT titles and write reviews as a resource for library professionals. Then I realised, that’s what my Thing17 can be all about.

LGBT Material in Libraries.

The next step was to identify those titles that already exist within the national libraries and put them on hold.  This provided me with my first problem – I couldn’t find them easily. I then realised that as a member of library staff if I cannot find the titles easily how was a young person to anonymously find the titles. If you know of a specific title you’re sorted but if not...well it gets interesting.

I ran a report pulling out those titles with a Dewey number in the list below to identify the non-fiction (DDC21).

306.76 - Sexual orientation
306.762 – Asexuality
306.764 - Heterosexuality
306.765 - Bisexuality
306.766 - Homosexuality
306.7662 - Male homosexuality (gay men)
306.7663 - Lesbianism
306.768 - Transgenderism
306.7681 – Transsexualism

In order to extract all the fiction and items not listed with one of the above Dewey numbers I then ran separate reports extracting those titles with a subject of one of the following:

Sexual Orientation

All of these lists I exported, amalgamated on a spreadsheet, filtered out the duplicates, withdrawn and unavailable stock.

Finally, the total is 13,155 available items. Of the 15 million titles available this represents about .00087% of the national stock (if anyone would like the list just email me). This is quite a shockingly low percentage of the overall national collection.

Anyway, here is my small slide show about LGBT material, why they are important and what we should do now;


I found the process of sharing my slideshow really easy, like everything it’s the preparation work you do is what’s important. It’s like when you are giving a talk, the better prepared and practiced you are, the better the presentation will go. For some it was probably easier as they had a presentation they had previously prepared, for me I started from scratch.

Another advantage of sharing your slideshow would be to get someone else to collaborate with you online before your presentation.

I must say, the rabbit hole I dove into was very interesting. I think it asks more questions than it answers but it would be a really interesting project to get into.

If you are buying some LGBT titles, here’s a great starting point.

Toodles for Now

John the Captain Ryan

Monday, 12 February 2018

Best Science Fiction Movies EVER!


(image courtesy of

Where to start, well I could regale you with all my own memories of going to the cinema and watching movies at home, but instead I’m going to see what others are saying.

So, I did a Google search for "Best Scifi Movies" and ignored ones that were for specific years. I collected data from the following websites:

I listed each top ten and assigned points as follows; 1st = 20, 2nd = 17, 3rd = 15 etc until 10th = 1.

I also took note of how many times a movie appeared on the list, I’m ranking a movie that appears more often with more importance because it’s my list!.  Finally, I came up with the following top 11:

Alien (1979)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Blade Runner (1982)
Metropolis (1927)
Star Wars IV, A New Hope (1977)
Children of Men (2006)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
The Matrix (1999)
Star Wars V, The Empire Strikes Back
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Brazil (1985)

I’m going to try and watch these movies again during the year and write reviews on them all. From memory, the ones clearly sticking out are Children of Men & The Matrix. I’d love to see the Matrix on big screen as it never got a nationwide cinema release in Ireland.

Lots done, lots more to do!

John The Captain Ryan

IT, Chapter 2. (movie review)

After a 2 year wait we finally get to see what happens to the LOSERS. (source  fortniteinsider )  IT's been a long time coming, ...