Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government
Library Services Staff
227. To ask the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government the position regarding the obligation on applicants for positions as librarians in county libraries to be fluent in the Irish language; if the obligation has been removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29546/16]
In July 2016 new qualifications for library staff were declared that removed the obligation for candidates to be fluent in Irish, in order to be considered for library posts.
In 2015 a working group was set up to revise the qualifications for professional and non-professional public library grades. The working group consisted of members of my Department, County Librarians (also members of the Library Association of Ireland), and senior human resources staff from various local authorities as well as representatives from the Libraries Development Unit (formerly An Comhairle Leabharleanna) in the Local Government Management Agency.
The output from this group was the production of updated draft qualifications, for all library grades, which were declared earlier this year.
The revised qualifications reflect the changes in educational requirements within the profession over the last 20 years. For more senior staff within the library profession, the revised qualifications place more emphasis on managerial skills in common with analogous professional grades. The qualifications also reflect the career structure and path from Grades 3 to 9, again in line with analogous professional grades.
The revised qualifications removed the requirement from previous qualifications whereby a successful candidate had to be proficient in Irish. The recommendation from the working group was that this created an unnecessary barrier to entry for those unable to speak Irish or those who never had the opportunity to learn the language.