SOAS university library cuts prompt student backlash

London’s School of Oriental and African Studies plans to cut library staff by some 25%

The university, founded in 1916, is at risk of using up its cash reserves. SOAS

Students at one of London’s top universities have launched a campaign to save what they say would devastating cuts to one of the UK’s top libraries for Middle Eastern and oriental studies.

The School of Oriental and African Studies announced staff cuts of almost 25% this week, prompting students to a launch campaign with the hashtag #SaveSOASLibrary in a bid to stave off the cuts.

The proposed cuts would see half of the institution’s specialist librarians lost, numerous other support staff would be affected too.

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition address to SOAS chancellor Valerie Amos, which reads: “SOAS Library is the UK National Research Library for Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and one of the world’s leading academic libraries, heavily used by students, academics, and the general public.

“These cuts would have a devastating impact on Library services and threaten the future of this internationally important collection,” it warns.

The school, which currently has a student body of 6,000, has produced dozens of heads of states, diplomats and parliamentarians, including Myanmar's beleaguered Nobel-prize winning leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Current UAE ambassador to the United Nations, Lana Nusseibeh is also an alumnus.

Students both past and present took the internet upon hearing the news to voice their disappointment at the cuts. Christopher Adams tweeted “As a SOAS alumnus who relied heavily on the library—particularly the special collections—I am deeply concerned by these proposed cuts to library staff.”

Whilst another graduate, Francesca Fuoli said “We all know how difficult it is to navigate libraries and archives without proper support and specialised staff.”