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PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES FEASIBLE OR MYTHICAL

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES FEASIBLE OR MYTHICAL CUTTING COSTS JOSEPH EISNER PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES: FEASIBLE OR MYTHICAL? As time goes by, procedure s change, needs vary, equip­ use of the tool in th e ne w format would increase, and that ment wears out or becomes obsolete, and materials are as a result, the unit cost per transaction would be some­ offered in new formats. Thus, the library administrator what similar. But what library keeps such records? What overseein g the budgetary process is continually con­ is the unit cost per use of Readers' Guide, Infotrac, the fronted with the prospect of evaluating procedures and World Almanac, or an encyclopedia? making changes to meet new requirements, replace or re­ Consider a situation in which neither the department pair equipment, and to purchase new material or replace head nor th e administrator is prepared to discuss the mat­ existing material in ne w formats. ter on a unit cost basis. Ther e are othe r factors to consider. Such decisions and cost evaluations may be based on For example, what is the cost of shelf space? The reference observable data whe n the purchas e of replacemen t or ne w tool in printe d format takes u p six linear feet of shelf space. equipment is contemplated. It is also possible when ana­ What is this space worth in dollars? Moreover, how does lyzing the cost of continuing an in-house procedure versus the administrator use this concept in th e preparation of an contracting with an outside source. For example, a library operating budget, which may o r may not reflect capital prints 10,000 flyers a year, supplying camera-ready copy costs? It may b e that the acquisition of the reference ma­ to a commercial printer. Analysis of past bills indicates that terial in CD-ROM format will also require the purchase of the unit cost pe r copy averages 1.3¢. A salesman suggests a PC and a ROM reader. While an economist will term this that his "jim-dandy machine" costing $2,975 can produce an "opportunity cost," this required capital outlay for the a much better copy, reduce turn-around time, and offer supposed savings in shelf space, taken up by the printed the convenience of in-house production. Assuming no ad­ version of the tool, should be calculated. How? ditional printing, simple arithmetic shows that, at a print­ ANOTHER ISSUE ing cost of $130 per year, about 23 years would be required to recover the purchase price ($2,975 ÷ 130 = 22.88). It could be that neither the department head nor the Obviously, purchase of the machine would not be cost- administrator is prepared to evaluate the "bonus" of shelf- effective. space or the penalty of the "opportunity cost" for the re­ The foregoing comparison was based on verifiable data. quired PC and ROM reader. Yet, they feel the savings in user time provided by the ne w format is a factor that jus­ Now for a not-so-simple evaluation: A library subscribes to tifies the expenditure of additional funds. If the library is a reference tool at a cost of $695 per year. The publisher announces that this material will also be made available on a public, college, or school unit not billing its users for CD-ROM, at a cost of $2,975 per yea r (software included, staff time and materials, ho w can a value be placed on the supposed savings in time? Such savings often are not re­ but PC and CD-ROM player are required at an additional flected in th e library's operating budget, which is probably cost). The library department head feels that the acquisi­ tion of this tool in the new format merits consideration, a line-item budget showing only expenditures. Even if th e because experience has shown that the use of reference library prepared a program budget, it woul d be difficult to identify the costs of unit use reflected either as an expres­ tools in CD-ROM format has increased compared to their sion of unit cost per use o r as unit cost in time per trans­ use in printed format. Fair enough — bu t what is the unit cost of the use of the tool in printed format? What is it action by staff members for each reference tool. anticipated to b e in CD-ROM format? From the library ad­ FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS ministrator's point of view, a budgetary increase of $2,280 will be required if the tool is to be acquired in the ne w These may b e considerations for the next go-round, but format. This might be justifiable if on e could demonstrate, the likelihood is that few, if any, libraries are sufficiently or even predict with some reasonable certainty, that the equipped to make such determinations. At best the appro­ priating authority will be enthralled by the library advanc­ ing into the "information age" and agree to the additional Joseph Eisner is Director, Plainedge Public Library, Massapequa, New expenditure. Carpe Automatum! ═ York. Volum e 5, Numbe r 1 The Bottom Line 39 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances Emerald Publishing

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES FEASIBLE OR MYTHICAL

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
0888-045X
DOI
10.1108/eb025321
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

CUTTING COSTS JOSEPH EISNER PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR LIBRARY SERVICES: FEASIBLE OR MYTHICAL? As time goes by, procedure s change, needs vary, equip­ use of the tool in th e ne w format would increase, and that ment wears out or becomes obsolete, and materials are as a result, the unit cost per transaction would be some­ offered in new formats. Thus, the library administrator what similar. But what library keeps such records? What overseein g the budgetary process is continually con­ is the unit cost per use of Readers' Guide, Infotrac, the fronted with the prospect of evaluating procedures and World Almanac, or an encyclopedia? making changes to meet new requirements, replace or re­ Consider a situation in which neither the department pair equipment, and to purchase new material or replace head nor th e administrator is prepared to discuss the mat­ existing material in ne w formats. ter on a unit cost basis. Ther e are othe r factors to consider. Such decisions and cost evaluations may be based on For example, what is the cost of shelf space? The reference observable data whe n the purchas e of replacemen t or ne w tool in printe d format takes u p six linear feet of shelf space. equipment is contemplated. It is also possible when ana­ What is this space worth in dollars? Moreover, how does lyzing the cost of continuing an in-house procedure versus the administrator use this concept in th e preparation of an contracting with an outside source. For example, a library operating budget, which may o r may not reflect capital prints 10,000 flyers a year, supplying camera-ready copy costs? It may b e that the acquisition of the reference ma­ to a commercial printer. Analysis of past bills indicates that terial in CD-ROM format will also require the purchase of the unit cost pe r copy averages 1.3¢. A salesman suggests a PC and a ROM reader. While an economist will term this that his "jim-dandy machine" costing $2,975 can produce an "opportunity cost," this required capital outlay for the a much better copy, reduce turn-around time, and offer supposed savings in shelf space, taken up by the printed the convenience of in-house production. Assuming no ad­ version of the tool, should be calculated. How? ditional printing, simple arithmetic shows that, at a print­ ANOTHER ISSUE ing cost of $130 per year, about 23 years would be required to recover the purchase price ($2,975 ÷ 130 = 22.88). It could be that neither the department head nor the Obviously, purchase of the machine would not be cost- administrator is prepared to evaluate the "bonus" of shelf- effective. space or the penalty of the "opportunity cost" for the re­ The foregoing comparison was based on verifiable data. quired PC and ROM reader. Yet, they feel the savings in user time provided by the ne w format is a factor that jus­ Now for a not-so-simple evaluation: A library subscribes to tifies the expenditure of additional funds. If the library is a reference tool at a cost of $695 per year. The publisher announces that this material will also be made available on a public, college, or school unit not billing its users for CD-ROM, at a cost of $2,975 per yea r (software included, staff time and materials, ho w can a value be placed on the supposed savings in time? Such savings often are not re­ but PC and CD-ROM player are required at an additional flected in th e library's operating budget, which is probably cost). The library department head feels that the acquisi­ tion of this tool in the new format merits consideration, a line-item budget showing only expenditures. Even if th e because experience has shown that the use of reference library prepared a program budget, it woul d be difficult to identify the costs of unit use reflected either as an expres­ tools in CD-ROM format has increased compared to their sion of unit cost per use o r as unit cost in time per trans­ use in printed format. Fair enough — bu t what is the unit cost of the use of the tool in printed format? What is it action by staff members for each reference tool. anticipated to b e in CD-ROM format? From the library ad­ FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS ministrator's point of view, a budgetary increase of $2,280 will be required if the tool is to be acquired in the ne w These may b e considerations for the next go-round, but format. This might be justifiable if on e could demonstrate, the likelihood is that few, if any, libraries are sufficiently or even predict with some reasonable certainty, that the equipped to make such determinations. At best the appro­ priating authority will be enthralled by the library advanc­ ing into the "information age" and agree to the additional Joseph Eisner is Director, Plainedge Public Library, Massapequa, New expenditure. Carpe Automatum! ═ York. Volum e 5, Numbe r 1 The Bottom Line 39

Journal

The Bottom Line: Managing Library FinancesEmerald Publishing

Published: Jan 1, 1992

There are no references for this article.