I have noted previously the hollowing out of the academic sector in the non replacement of professors who have left the Irish univeristies. Now we also see this in action in the university library sectors.
Courtsey of Deputy Peter Mathews who solicited these data via a PQ we see in the first table the number of persons by grade by university who have left that university library since 2009. The second table shows the replacements. What do we learn from this?
First, there are a bewildering array of grades in the irish university library system. I understand that there is a table of equivalencies somewhere. Some rationality might be usefully brought to bear on this. Even within the old NUI system there are clear differences as to grade nomenclature. This may seem petty but the more opaqueness there is the easier it is to hide change.
Second, we see a tendancy for little replacement in the larger university libraries. These are the larger but then they are also the ones that support Irelands research intensive universities. But that support must now be creaking.
University libraries are not in general the physical books at this stage. They are the core nodes for the organisation and distribution of research knowledge. In a very real sense a university is its library, its information holdings that are accessible for knowledge creation and dissemination If we do not have sufficient, or sufficient qualified professional staff to assist in the collation, organisation, dissemination and retrival of information we cannot do research. There is another story to be told on the holdings of journals and databases in Irish universities but for now we are pretty well situated. But if we cant find them or the students cant find them, or researchers cant find them, then they are no use. There is little point in Sean Sherlock unveiling hundreds of millions of research grants, no matter how welcome they are, if over the course of the grant the ability of the researchers to access the frontier of knowledge is degraded.