A Public Libraries Costings Pilot Study in Nsw

By Wallis, Margie | Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services, December 1999 | Go to article overview

A Public Libraries Costings Pilot Study in Nsw


Wallis, Margie, Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services


In 1996-97 a NSW library development grant permitted a two year pilot study by fourteen country library services in the state's northeast to establish labour costs, program costs, adding to the collection costs and public service activities costs. Although the outcome did not provide accurate costings for benchmarking across country public libraries, the study did provide the library managers with the skills and tools to research, compile and present library costings data

The North East Zone of the NSW Country Public Libraries Association comprises fourteen library services, including three large regional library services servicing thirty six local government areas from Great Lakes to the Queensland border on the coast and Tamworth to Tenterfield west of the Great Dividing Range.

The North East Zone Costings Project as a pilot study, set out to facilitate the collection of costings data on a cooperative basis according to an agreed set of spreadsheet models. The following fourteen library services of the North East Zone all agreed to participate in the study

Library service                  Library manager
Armidale                         Jean McBride
Central Northern                 Alan Barclay
Clarence                         Richard  Nichols
Coifs Harbour                    Anne Burnett
Glen Innes                       Astrid Kreining (Carol Hallinan)
Great Lakes                      Chris Jones (Lynne Makin)
Guyra                            Bronwen Clark
Hastings                         Robyn Hardman
Inverell                         Ray Amos (Bobbie Miller)
Kempsey                          Gabi Brie
Richmond-Tweed                   Martin Field
Richmond Upper                   Gary Ellem
Clarence
Tenterfield                      Robin Riley

A library development grant in the 1996-97 round of funding enabled the study to be implemented. The sum of $46,420 covered the purchase of the necessary hardware and software and training in spreadsheets. Greater Taree's Library Manager, as the representative of the coordinating council, took responsibility for the purchase of equipment, organisation of training, the scheduling of meetings and the required documentation for the study.

Objectives

The aim of undertaking the study on a cooperative basis was for the zone to provide shared learning opportunities, a mutual support mechanism, and a two year time frame for its completion.

It had the following objectives for the North East Zone libraries. To

* undertake concurrent costings projects

* discover opportunities for improvements in the provision of public library services through a consistent approach to library costings

* provide library managers with the necessary skills and tools to research, compile and present library costings data

* facilitate both internal benchmarking from year to year and external benchmarking utilising a group support/mentoring approach

The study

The basis for the pilot study was to be the model prepared by Professor Barry McIntyre and presented in his publication Public library costings: a manual (Sydney NSW, Library Council of NSW with MPLA 1996).

This manual was derived from projects on costing conducted in public libraries in NSW during 1993 and 1994. The library managers undertook to trial the McIntyre models to assess the value of this approach to costings for NSW country libraries.

Models covered by the study were

Project 1 Establishing your labor costs

Project 2 Establishing program costs (resulting in the cost of circulating an item)

Project 3 The cost of adding an item to the collection

Project 4 Public service activities

The development of a common classification of public library work activities and the resultant spreadsheet models developed by McIntyre allow libraries to estimate broad program costs and unit costs. …

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