An examination of the impact of the current economic recession on academic library budgets in the Republic of Ireland and the measure introduced to implement budgetary cuts

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Hickey, Marita-Anne
Issue Date
MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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In recent years the deterioration of the economic climate has adversely affected the Higher Level Education sector in Ireland. This has led to the inevitable erosion of the financial resources of academic libraries. This research paper reports on an investigation into the impact of the current economic downturn on the budgets of academic libraries in the Republic of Ireland and what measures are being implemented to make these cuts, particularly in relation to the areas of staffing, information resources, services and infrastructure. A predominately quantitative survey was undertaken to obtain the primary data from Irish academic libraries, further supported by internal library documentation. The research found that academic library budgets have been affected by the economic decline. Within all four areas of library expenditure patterns of spending have changed. The areas which have received the most significant cuts are Staffing and Information Resources, with Services and Infrastructure being the most protected. Non-replacement of staff and a freeze on recruitment are the main mechanisms employed to achieve cuts in staffing. In regards to information resources, as database and journals absorb the majority of the expenditure in this area, they are targeted in budget cuts. This research provides an insight into emerging patterns and trends in the current financial environment of academic libraries in Ireland and how they are contending with the economic downturn. It is hoped that this research will be of benefit to academic librarians to provide an Irish perspective on academic library budgetary challenges.