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MONEY, LIBRARIANS, AND EDUCATION

MONEY, LIBRARIANS, AND EDUCATION GUEST EDITORIAL MURRA Y S. MARTI N MONEY, LIBRARIANS, AND EDUCATION A GREAT deal of recent library news has been about think more about developing unbiased collections than money : rising prices, budget cuts, staff cuts; generally, about using the dollars they have to meet minimal needs. th e call to d o more with less. Sometimes citizen protest Th e old formulas about budgets have outlived their o r the recognition that reduced library services harm usefulness, but w e have not begun to develop new ones. everyone has managed to turn the tide. Mostly, however, Budget allocation made to college libraries has varied libraries and librarians have simply bowed to pressure little over the years, and town councils make budget cuts and tried yet again to stretch their budgets. As Barbara across the board. Yet libraries, which are already a very Moran said, "even in the sixties libraries never overcame small proportion of those expenditures, quietly accept their traditional poverty" (Academic Libraries, 1984, these decisions. p . 25). Now, whe n information sources are multiplying Librarians should be ready to show in terms that and the cost of accessing information is escalating, those others can understand what those cuts mean in benefits already inadequate budgets are being reduced once foregone. Even more, librarians should be prepared to again. show ho w the money spent on the library supports and fosters local development or the academic goals of the There is a consistent pattern of statements insisting parent institution. Librarians need to be able to show that those who benefit from education and libraries should be the ones wh o pay for them. Why is this sen­ that they are running their libraries prudently, that they understand the meaning of fiscal management, and that timent so common? It is partly because librarians have they realize th e budgetary implications of setting up new no t learned to use financial and accounting arguments services. effectively. Information is a public good and has to be protected as such. Nevertheless, it does have a cost and If librarians are not prepared to put their ow n houses ou r profession has not learned ho w to defend that cost in order, then others will do it for them. Peter Drucker as a reasonable public expenditure. suggested long ago that librarians tend to remain inside their own world, and later, in a more general criticism Although few librarians would acknowledge their of American business, h e suggested that too many man­ ow n involvement in their library's finances, almost everyone in a library has some kind of financial respon­ agers rely heavily o n reports, whic h only give us answers sibility. It may be direct involvement, such as ordering to th e questions w e have decided to ask. If w e d o not ask the right questions, we will not get the information we books or purchasing services; or indirect involvement, need. like accounting for time spent. Th e setting of policies an d procedures has budget im­ Th e most crucial questions for librarians today con­ plications, too. No matter what takes place in th e library, cern money. Such questions are rarely asked and more it is paid for from the library budget. In that sense all li­ rarely pursued. Our governing institutions are no w ask­ brary employees are responsible for making sure that ing wha t they get in return for the funds they supply, and they act in a fiscally responsible manner. we are having a hard time coming up with the answers. There appear to be some contradictions in the way Library schools and library associations need to take librarians regard money and what that money pays for, the lead in helping librarians through what has become in much the same way as the average citizen has man­ a continual problem. More attention has to be paid to aged to divorce taxes from what they pay for. In these basic financial matters—not just the choice of a budget days when governing boards must realize that the system, but how to use financial information effectively, botto m line cannot accommodate everything, librarians ho w to understand financial reports, how to predict ex­ must be doubly concerned with financial matters. penditures, and ho w to relate these to the resultant prod­ ucts. The teaching of all these skills has to be brought Librarians have begun to venture into performance into the library science curriculum, if not through the li­ measures, and have tried to fight exploitation by certain brary schools themselves, then perhaps through cooper­ publishers. Yet some librarians have remained naive ative programs with other schools and colleges. The about financial management. Too often I have found li­ costs and benefits of library service are no w major ques­ brarians unaware of the implications of a proposed tions, and if we as a profession do not want to become course of action or unable to calculate the costs, bene­ irrelevant bystanders, we must find the answers. = fits, and opportunities behind various alternatives. They Volum e 5, Number 3 The Bottom Line 3 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances Emerald Publishing

MONEY, LIBRARIANS, AND EDUCATION

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0888-045X
DOI
10.1108/eb025334
Publisher site
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Abstract

GUEST EDITORIAL MURRA Y S. MARTI N MONEY, LIBRARIANS, AND EDUCATION A GREAT deal of recent library news has been about think more about developing unbiased collections than money : rising prices, budget cuts, staff cuts; generally, about using the dollars they have to meet minimal needs. th e call to d o more with less. Sometimes citizen protest Th e old formulas about budgets have outlived their o r the recognition that reduced library services harm usefulness, but w e have not begun to develop new ones. everyone has managed to turn the tide. Mostly, however, Budget allocation made to college libraries has varied libraries and librarians have simply bowed to pressure little over the years, and town councils make budget cuts and tried yet again to stretch their budgets. As Barbara across the board. Yet libraries, which are already a very Moran said, "even in the sixties libraries never overcame small proportion of those expenditures, quietly accept their traditional poverty" (Academic Libraries, 1984, these decisions. p . 25). Now, whe n information sources are multiplying Librarians should be ready to show in terms that and the cost of accessing information is escalating, those others can understand what those cuts mean in benefits already inadequate budgets are being reduced once foregone. Even more, librarians should be prepared to again. show ho w the money spent on the library supports and fosters local development or the academic goals of the There is a consistent pattern of statements insisting parent institution. Librarians need to be able to show that those who benefit from education and libraries should be the ones wh o pay for them. Why is this sen­ that they are running their libraries prudently, that they understand the meaning of fiscal management, and that timent so common? It is partly because librarians have they realize th e budgetary implications of setting up new no t learned to use financial and accounting arguments services. effectively. Information is a public good and has to be protected as such. Nevertheless, it does have a cost and If librarians are not prepared to put their ow n houses ou r profession has not learned ho w to defend that cost in order, then others will do it for them. Peter Drucker as a reasonable public expenditure. suggested long ago that librarians tend to remain inside their own world, and later, in a more general criticism Although few librarians would acknowledge their of American business, h e suggested that too many man­ ow n involvement in their library's finances, almost everyone in a library has some kind of financial respon­ agers rely heavily o n reports, whic h only give us answers sibility. It may be direct involvement, such as ordering to th e questions w e have decided to ask. If w e d o not ask the right questions, we will not get the information we books or purchasing services; or indirect involvement, need. like accounting for time spent. Th e setting of policies an d procedures has budget im­ Th e most crucial questions for librarians today con­ plications, too. No matter what takes place in th e library, cern money. Such questions are rarely asked and more it is paid for from the library budget. In that sense all li­ rarely pursued. Our governing institutions are no w ask­ brary employees are responsible for making sure that ing wha t they get in return for the funds they supply, and they act in a fiscally responsible manner. we are having a hard time coming up with the answers. There appear to be some contradictions in the way Library schools and library associations need to take librarians regard money and what that money pays for, the lead in helping librarians through what has become in much the same way as the average citizen has man­ a continual problem. More attention has to be paid to aged to divorce taxes from what they pay for. In these basic financial matters—not just the choice of a budget days when governing boards must realize that the system, but how to use financial information effectively, botto m line cannot accommodate everything, librarians ho w to understand financial reports, how to predict ex­ must be doubly concerned with financial matters. penditures, and ho w to relate these to the resultant prod­ ucts. The teaching of all these skills has to be brought Librarians have begun to venture into performance into the library science curriculum, if not through the li­ measures, and have tried to fight exploitation by certain brary schools themselves, then perhaps through cooper­ publishers. Yet some librarians have remained naive ative programs with other schools and colleges. The about financial management. Too often I have found li­ costs and benefits of library service are no w major ques­ brarians unaware of the implications of a proposed tions, and if we as a profession do not want to become course of action or unable to calculate the costs, bene­ irrelevant bystanders, we must find the answers. = fits, and opportunities behind various alternatives. They Volum e 5, Number 3 The Bottom Line 3

Journal

The Bottom Line: Managing Library FinancesEmerald Publishing

Published: Mar 1, 1992

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