Library Management
Cost-finding Exercise


ILS565-70 Library Management

Pamela R. Dennis

April 5, 2003

Cost Finding Exercise


            Cost finding is used to determine the justification for providing certain services.  In this exercise, the cost of processing one book from acquisitions through cataloging and technical services will be determined.  This topic was chosen because of a program I co-presented at the Voyager User Group Meeting (VUGM) held in Chicago on April 27, 2002.  In that small library track session, Making the Most of Voyager in the Small Library: Integrating the Voyager Modules to Produce a Seamless Automated Environment, we emphasized the incorporation and integration of all modules of Endeavors Voyager system, including Acquisitions, Cataloging, Circulation, Reporter, System Administration, and WebVoyage (the programs online public access catalog).  By completing this cost finding exercise, I will determine whether this demonstration given to other Voyager libraries was cost-effective advice.

            In our session, we advocated that the Acquisitions and Cataloging personnel should work very closely so that duplicate tasks are not performed to acquire the same information.  We also advocated that cataloging is of no value if the information input into the system is full of errors.  Therefore, Technical Services personnel must be involved in proofing the information and making sure everything is correct before the item is placed on the cart to be shelved.

            Therefore, this exercise involves salaries and materials of the Acquisitions Librarian, the Cataloging Librarian, student workers who serve in Technical Services, and our Government Documents Professional, who proofs behind the above library staff members.  It also includes administrative costs, and services by the Maintenance and Housekeeping staffs as well as Security, all of whom provide services to maintain the working area.  Excluded from this study are costs related to the Mailroom (sorting and delivering the materials to the library), faculty time in requesting items, the Academic Dean (whose signature must appear with mine on every order), and the Business Office (approval of the request, crediting it to the librarys account, and actually paying the bill).


Direct Costs ($22.70 per item)


            The direct costs included the following: salary of Acquisitions Librarian including benefits and percent of time spent on acquisitions, salary of Cataloging Librarian/System Administrator, salaries of student workers and percent of time by Government Documents Professional in proofing, the annual cost and value of the Voyager integrated system, the cost of using OCLC services (both annual service and monthly usage), and furniture, equipment, and supplies needed to implement the service (Appendix A).

            After working with each person involved, it was determined that it takes 105 minutes (or 1.75 hours) to process one book.  The Acquisitions Librarian generally uses Baker & Taylor to order books, spending approximately 47 minutes per book.  However, many times the book must be ordered from another source, and that time equals approximately 1-1/2 hours.  Therefore, I took the average of these amounts, resulting in the acquisitions process taking 68 minutes.  This process includes searching for the book, checking for duplicates in our holdings, converting the information to an existing purchase order, placing the order, making notes on the purchase order for approval, editing and printing the record in Voyager, recording statistics and purchase information in the ledger, and filing an order card.  Upon receipt of the item, she unpacks the item, pulls the order card and places it in the item, checks the shipment against the invoice, places call number and price notes in the book and gives it an ownership stamp, processes the invoice for payment, makes entries in the ledger and statistics sheet to be included in the Directors monthly statistics, and edits the Voyager entry and prints out the information.  The items are then given to the Cataloger, who spends approximately 24 minutes per item.  The standard cataloging process includes searching OCLC for the record, creating a Table of Contents in the Notes field if there is not one, producing and exporting the record from OCLC to Voyager, customizing the call number if needed, ordering the OCLC shelf list card, printing the spine label, creating bibliographic, holdings, and item records in Voyager, and deleting the imported list.  Some items do not need Tables of Contents, so the time is less, but some items are more difficult to find and require more search time.  The item is then moved to Technical Services, where student workers place the final stamps on the item, paste on a date due slip, paste in author information from the removed dust cover, paste on the barcode and spine label, and file the OCLC card in the shelf list drawer.  This process takes approximately 13 minutes per item.  Finally, the Government Documents Professional proofs the information written in the book and information on the spine label against the record as it appears in the online public access catalog.  He also checks for typing errors and returns any problem items to the Cataloger.  The proofing takes approximately 3 minutes per item.

The Acquisitions Librarian earns $23,576.00 per year including benefits.  Of that amount, 50% of her time is spent on acquisitions.  Based on 1.75 hours per book, her time equals $7.33 per item.  The Cataloging Librarian also serves as System Administrator for the Voyager system.  Since all of the modules are dependent on the system itself for the process of the items, her entire salary as cataloger and System Administrator ($38,130 including benefits) was included in direct costs.  Based on a 35-hour week, her part of the costs was $8.40 per item.  Student workers receive $5.15 per hour.  At a rate of 10 minutes per book, their contribution to the costs was $.86 per item.  The Government Documents Professional earns $21,000 including benefits.  At 3 minutes per book, his time equals $.58 per item.  Therefore, the direct cost of salaries is $17.17 per item.

Processing costs include the Voyager system itself (included under equipment) and the annual cost of $7,086.  Since the system runs 24 hours per day, that figure was divided by 1.75 hours per item to reach the cost of $1.57 per item.  Additionally, there is an annual cost of OCLC of $6,800, resulting in $1.37 per book.  OCLC charges monthly fees for its services, including numeric/derivative search, catalog cards and their shipping, online fees, cataloging export, and an hourly access and support fee.  Based on a monthly invoice, I totaled our monthly costs and divided them for one book, equaling $1.53 per item.  Therefore, support services are $4.47 per item.

Supplies included all items needed to stamp, write in, print, identify, bill, and otherwise process the items (i.e., stamp rack, book stamps, stamp pad, pencils, pens, printer cartridges, barcodes, spine labels, date due slip, invoice/POs, glue, book tape, barcode tape, and book order cards).  At an annual cost of $425.95, the approximately 800 books that we process cost $.53 per item.  Items are itemized in Appendix A.

Furniture and equipment took up the final part of these costs.  Items were divided by depreciation, with filing cabinets and shelving being considered to last approximately 20 years, desks and the Voyager server lasting 10 years, and all electronic equipment, chairs, software, divider panels, and phones depreciated at 3 years.  The total of $2,563.18 divided by 1.75 hours per items, equaling $.53 per item.  (Items are itemized in Appendix A).


Indirect Costs ($26.35 per item)


            Indirect costs included administrative salary, utilities, and costs of maintaining the building by the Maintenance and Housekeeping departments and by Security.  The Director earns $42,849 annually including benefits.  This amount was divided equally over the six other employees.  Therefore, the amount of time necessary to oversee the Acquisitions, Cataloging/System Administration, Technical Services, and proofing areas equals $3.94 per hour.  Multiplied by 1.75 hours per item, the administrative cost is $20.58 per item.  Duties included are working with the Business Office and Academic Dean, encouraging faculty to order books, fine-tuning electronic and personnel issues, computing statistics, etc.

            The library includes a total of 23,808 square feet.  Of that space, 1145 square feet (or 5%) of the building are involved in the areas where processing takes place.  According to the Business Office, a monthly utility bill is $2,296.75 for the library and includes electricity, gas, water, and sewage fee.  Since the utilities run 24 hours, the cost of 1.75 hours equals $2.81.  (Information is itemized in Appendix B.)  Approximate salaries were calculated by the Personnel Manager of the university.  Maintenance and Security personnel receive $21,000 annually including benefits.  Housekeeping is outsourced but is approximately $15,000 per year with no benefits.  Since each area has 20 buildings to maintain, a 40-hour week would include 2 hours per building.  The cost to maintain 5% of one building at 2 hours per week was $1.01 per item for Maintenance and Security each and $.94 per item for Housekeeping.


Findings and Conclusion


            The total of direct and indirect costs for processing one item at our library was $49.05.  I found this figure to be interesting since the lecture notes stated that interlibrary processing is approximately $40.00, a similar amount.  With one academic book costing approximately $65.00, we are looking at over $100 per item.  Costs could be cut by using fewer personnel to complete the process.  However, by using so many employees, there are checks and balances built into the process for detecting errors.  There are also more people aware of current books being added to the collection, allowing them better service during their times at the Reference Desk.  I believe the costs saved by eliminating multiple personnel would be equaled by a slower time by the cataloger, resulting in equivalent costs for processing in the long run.

            The lecture notes stated that utilities should average $1.00 to $3.50 per square foot.  Utilities at Lambuth equal $1.07 per square foot.  Custodial services should equal $1.00 to $1.75 per square foot; Lambuths services cost $.94 per square foot.  Maintenance of electrical, mechanical and structure should equal $.90 to $2.25 per square foot.  Maintenance at Lambuth is $1.01 per square foot.  Therefore, the university appears to be in line with the average, so it may be concluded that the $49.05 figure is probably also comparable to that of processing an item at other similar libraries.


Library Management