Irish Universities Have Seen a 22% Cut in Library Staff Since Recession

Irish university libraries have seen an average reduction of 22% in staffing levels since the recession, with UCD experiencing one of the largest staff cuts. While the declines began to occur in the late 2008s during the last recession, staff numbers are still slowly dropping in some institutions or just stabilising at others. The drop in staffing figures was revealed from records requested from each university library released under the Freedom of Information act.

The UCD Library employed 206 staff in 2006, before experiencing a period of decline which saw its staff fall to less than 200 by 2010. The official number for 2015 listed 137 staff, which represents 69 less staff than a decade ago. Trinity College Dublin has seen a continuous decline in staff numbers over the past few years. Staff levels declined from 154 in 2012 to 130 by 2017.

Trinity College Dublin has seen a continuous decline in staff numbers over the past few years, staff levels declined from 154 in 2012 to 130 by 2017.

Dublin City University (DCU), University College Cork (UCC), and National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) have also experienced the largest library staff cuts alongside UCD. There were 114 staff at NUIG’s library in 2007, the 2016 figure is 86. UCC’s library staff numbers continuously declined between 2008 to 2015, from 118 to 75. However, 2016 staff levels indicated an increase back up to 79.

DCU’s library staff dropped from 51 people in 2009 to 30 in 2015. In September 2016 the DCU Institute of Education was founded when the university saw St Patrick’s College, the Mater Dei Institute of Education, and the Church of Ireland College of Education merge with DCU’s School of Education Studies. The merger has resulted in total library staff numbers listed as 48 for 2016.

Staff levels at the University of Limerick have stabilised in recent years, with a drop from 54 employees in 2013 to 51 in 2016. Only NUI Maynooth has maintained the same number of staff over the past decade. It had 53 employees in 2007, with its lowest point of 48 staff recorded in 2010. Its 2016 staff level is recorded at 55 persons.

The overall trend reveals the majority of Ireland’s major universities have been reducing staff numbers. The cuts to library staff reflect a general trend in cutbacks to educational support in universities across the country. UCD Library’s spending on new books and renewing journals dropped by over €1,700 between 2010 to 2015. The figure of €3,101 for 2015 represented an increase from a low point of €2,442 spent in 2012.

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Cian Carton   News Editor 

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