Tag Archives: libraries

Knowledge Transfer Ireland – Keeping Dead Academic Experts Alive….

Knowledge transfer Ireland is, as I have noted, rather error ridden.  It is designed to allow companies to find experts in academia with whom they can work. This was launched with great fanfare to be a new portal.

Lets say I am a company that wants to look for a TCD based art and design expert, to collaborate on a new project.

In I go, and select Art and Design, and TCD.

Hmm .. John Joshua, the Earl of Carysfort sounds good… classy. Oh, hang on … he died nearly 200 years ago…

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What about this foreign sounding gent.. Le Broquey. I shall get my PA to give him a ring..

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Ok, so maybe you are an architecture firm, and want to consult with someone on sensitive interpretations of norman and later material.  You find Edwin Rae – a wonderful American professor of art history who was one of the experts involved in the post WW2 years in returning to their owners art works looted by the Nazis. Prof Rae was an expert in Irish medieval art and donated thousands of beautiful photographs of Irish medieval churches and sculptures (including those of norman tombs) to Trinity. Through the generosity of TCD’s Art History Department these images are available through TARA (Trinity’s Access to Research Archive). If only it was possible to contact Professor Rae and get him to aid your company… he died about 10 years ago. As the Iron Islanders say “that which is dead shall never die”

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It is not just TCD. These errors abound in other universities.

Sadly, EI in designing a knowledge expert portal have ignored RIAN.ie (Ireland’s Open Access Portal) which provides a beautifully-designed and technically-sound extract of the universities’ repositories of actual research (papers, books, book chapters etc.). The repositories are also used to host lots of other things, making the most of the resources & storage space to provide multiple cost-effective services for the universities and univ libraries. But even it is only an aggregation of archives.  It does what it’s supposed to do very well. But it contains theses of past postgraduates and publications of departed colleagues as well as existing material. It and the open access repositories from which KTI are drawn are the wrong sources for a database of current experts. They should have used the current research information systems in all of the universities – just like expertiseireland.com did over 10 years ago (and so much better). They could have read the National Research Platform report or at a pinch asked any librarian or research information staff. Libraries nowadays are so much more than bukes on shelves – the modern university library is the cross platform organic heart of the university. Ignore and belittle it at our peril.





Spending on Libraries by Irish Third Level Institutions

So how much, as a proportion of total expenditure does an Irish higher education institution spend on its library service? Thanks to Peter Mathews TD we now know. On average its about 3.6m per annum, or about 4.5% of total spend. This is very small I think. Libraries are the heart of universities, not innovation hubs, or business accellerators, or MIS projects, or new forms of administrative complexity.

Mind you some US evidence is available which might give us a small boost. This suggests that there spending has fallen to below 2% of total.

Library spend might be expected to fall with greater efficiencies and less reliance on printed books etc. They might also fall as a percentage if they lose out in the internal fight for resources. So a lot more analysis is needed as to whether this is a good or a bad thing.

The data are below ; interpretation and analysis I leave to others.

Spend by Institution on Library Services as % total institution spend

  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Athlone IoT  3.4  3.3  3.0  3.5  3.5
Cork IoT  1.6  1.6  1.9  1.8  2.3
DCU  3.2  3.0  3.0  3.1  2.9
Dublin IoT  5.3  5.1  5.3  4.9  5.2
Dun Laoghaire IADT  2.9  2.8  2.4  2.1  2.1
Dundalk IoT  2.4  3.0  3.0  3.0  3.7
Galway-Mayo IoT  4.4  4.0  4.2  4.1  3.7
IoT Blanchardstown  12.9  12.4  11.5  5.7  5.6
IoT Carlow  2.6  3.3  2.9  3.8  3.8
IoT Sligo  4.7  4.2  4.6  4.3  4.2
IoT Tallaght  6.5  6.4  6.5  6.3  6.6
IoT Tralee  5.6  4.9  5.0  5.3  5.5
Letterkenny IoT  2.4  2.3  2.4  2.4  2.6
Limerick IoT  4.8  4.8  5.1  5.0  5.3
NUIG  4.4  4.0  3.7  3.7  3.6
NUIM  5.3  4.5  4.3  4.1  4.1
TCD  5.5  5.2  5.1  5.2  5.0
UCC  3.6  3.4  3.2  3.3  3.5
UCD  4.0  4.1  3.5  3.8  3.2
UL  4.4  4.4  4.1  3.7  3.6
Waterford IoT  4.0  4.1  3.7  4.0  3.7

Spend by Institution on Library Services €000

  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Athlone IoT  €1,412  €1,470  €1,398  €1,520  €1,533
Cork IoT  €1,338  €1,450  €1,784  €1,686  €2,126
DCU  €2,659  €2,821  €2,825  €2,907  €2,597
Dublin IoT  €9,982  €10,245  €10,916  €9,274  €9,429
Dun Laoghaire IADT  €538  €545  €489  €424  €430
Dundalk IoT  €1,268  €1,366  €1,446  €1,415  €1,726
Galway-Mayo IoT  €2,722  €2,594  €2,707  €2,547  €2,222
IoT Blanchardstown  €2,338  €2,552  €2,527  €1,185  €1,135
IoT Carlow  €818  €1,079  €1,022  €1,282  €1,274
IoT Sligo  €1,741  €1,699  €1,912  €1,707  €1,723
IoT Tallaght  €2,136  €2,338  €2,486  €2,231  €2,260
IoT Tralee  €1,832  €1,706  €1,838  €1,818  €1,841
Letterkenny IoT  €697  €750  €796  €758  €808
Limerick IoT  €1,921  €2,216  €2,504  €2,305  €2,383
NUIG  €6,431  €6,637  €6,656  €6,482  €6,054
NUIM  €3,374  €3,105  €3,113  €3,005  €3,075
TCD  €11,028  €10,926  €10,917  €10,216  €9,659
UCC  €6,846  €6,875  €7,339  €7,156  €7,008
UCD  €10,618  €11,147  €10,346  €10,522  €8,410
UL  €4,506  €4,774  €4,879  €4,358  €4,145
Waterford IoT  €3,194  €3,572  €3,399  €3,332  €3,197

Spending per FullTime Student per annum

2011 Spend €000 2011 FT Students Per FT Student €
Cork Institute of Technology 2,126 7,387  287.80
Dundalk Institute of Technology 1,726 4,225  408.52
Institute of Technology Sligo 1,723 3,783  455.46
Limerick Institute of Technology 2,383 4,724  504.45
Waterford Institute of Technology 3,197 6,833  467.88
Dublin Institute of Technology 9,429 12,329  764.78
Institute of Technology Carlow 1,274 3,525  361.42
Athlone Institute of Technology 1,533 3,611  424.54
Institute of Technology Tralee 1,841 2,459  748.68
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology 2,222 5,468  406.36
Dun Laoghaire IADT 430 2,104  204.37
Institute of Technology Tallaght 2,260 2,919  774.24
Institute of Technology Blanchardstown 1,135 2,184  519.69
Letterkenny Institute of Technology 808 2,493  324.11
UL 4,145 10,267  403.72
UCD 8,410 19,536  430.49
UCC 7,008 16,006  437.84
TCD 9,659 14,482  666.97
NUIM 3,075 7,412  414.87
NUIG 6,054 13,873  436.39
DCU 2,597 8,352  310.94

STEM and HSS journal cuts in Irish University Libraries

Universities are research and teaching institutions, and at the core of research lies the ability of the researcher to discover what is and what is not known about an area. This in effect involves as comprehensive review of the literature as possible and if the library holdings of journals are not as complete as possible then research will be misdirected or delayed. If a library has not got a journal then one faces either paying for it oneself (usually of the order of $30-50 per journal article) or scrounging it from a colleague in more favoured institution.
Irish university libraries have, as I have noted, been hollowed out by staff cuts. We can now show the further hollowing out. Peter Mathews via a PQ sourced these data and we should be grateful to Peter for his ongoing interest in the education issues. First, we can see the relative spend on STEM and HSS (Humanities and Social Sciences) on journals. For the most part these journals were sourced on a national consortium basis under the rubric of IRel. Spending, since 2006 has increased 11% on STEM journals while it has fallen 3% on HSS; the ratio of spending on STEM versus HSS journals (2007-12) has bobbled around but on average stands at close to 2:1. Some of this spend is outside the control of IReL as it is a price taker but the relative spend is still extraordinary. Bear in mind: the greater proportion of graduates hired are from HSS disciplines, and while the present thrust is to STEM the value of the (A)HSS sector cannot and is not underplayed. It would be nice if the government and HEA were to honour the fine words of the 2010 report on the value of that sector

As resources have fallen so to have journals have been withdrawn. They number over 400, and what is astounding is that all these journals lie in the STEM (Science, technology engineering and mathematics) domain, the very domain that we are told will be the foundation of the Smart Economy. The data show the journals, the year cancelled, and some notes. The notes should be read as follows ; 7 – was available in the 7 universities ; 7 RCSI – was available in the RCSI and the 7 universities ; 7 Irel DCU NUIM – was available in the 7 universities and is now being subscribed by a mini-consortium of DCU and NUIM

Some issues emerge from this data.
First, it is almost certain that a mini-consortium of two midsized universities will not get as avourable terms as a national consortium.
Second, what on earth went wrong in negotiations in Taylor and Francis?
Third, while some readers may look at any individual journal and say “sure what use is that” , the simple answer is that unless one is a researcher in that domain you cant say. As I noted a comprehensive literature study requires comprehensive library resources. There is no point in spending time and money studying an area that is already done to death AND which you did not know about as the journals were not available. As an editor of a journal it is disheartening to desk reject papers which assert primacy or novelty when one knows that this is an illusion caused by poor or inadequate literature searching.

here is the list in Excel format….i would appreciate comments  from STEM researchers and librarians in particular.

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