Monday, December 11, 2017

The Library as a profit center

Tweed, Stephen C.“The Library as a Profit Center” Special Libraries, October 1984, pp. 270-274. 

The Library as a Profit Center 
Stephen C. Tweed 
Tweed Corporation, Oil City, Pa. 
The article is an excerpt from a presentation of the same title given by the author at the Fall Conference of the Texas State Chapter, Special Libraries Association, held in Dallas, September 16, 1983. 
• Special libraries and information centers can increase their effectiveness by changing the way they are seen by the organizations they serve. Two ways that perceptions can be changed are: to change the methods used to account for the library financially; to change the way services are provided to better meet the users’ needs. Seven steps for increasing the real and perceived value of the library to the organization are proposed. 
Any individual or organization that provides some product or service in exchange for something of equal value – usually money – constitutes a business. Special librarians are in the business of providing information services in exchange for the money in their department’s operating budget. Compensation is received for the services the librarian / information manager personally provides: salary, benefits, working, conditions, and job security. 
In order to increase the budget or raise the library manager’s compensation, both the real and the perceived value of the services provided must be improved. 
Tracking financial performance
There are five basic methods of tracking the financial performance of the library. One is to show how it contributes to costs; the other four are methods that demonstrate how the library contributes to the profits of the organization.
 
Most special libraries operate as cost centers; that is, every year a budget is prepared to include direct labor and material costs, and perhaps also fixed costs for the operation of the library. The budget is approved, and these funds are charged to the administrative expenses of the organization—in accounting, terms, “burden” or “overhead.” 
When top executives review financial performance, one of the things they look at is expenses. If the library chronically has trouble getting the funding it needs and deserves to provide good service, it is probably because management views it as a “burden.” Yet, by changing how the library is perceived by the organization, it can change its value. 
True profit center
The special library that operates as a true profit center is identified as a profit making segment of a business. It sells its services outside the company and is held accountable for its financial performance just as any other division would be. Revenues are generated by selling products and services. In most cases, the true profit center no longer serves as the internal service for the company.

An example of a true profit center would be a special library that establishes a computer database. Once the database comes into such demand that the company sees an opportunity by selling data services, the database is set up as a separate business unit.

Going one step beyond the true profit center, many library managers are deciding that they have had enough of corporate life and are leaving their organizations to start their own consulting and information service operation. These businesses range from one-person shops operating out of a spare bedroom, to large firms with many employees providing a multitude of services. Although risks are involved, many former librarians have found satisfaction in putting their skills to work for personal success and profit.

Protected profit center
The protected profit center is a special library that exists primarily to serve the needs of its own organization. However, this library offers some services which are in demand outside the company. Thus, the protected profit center begins to sell services on a limited basis. The profits from outside sales are put back into the operating budget of the library. While the library is not expected to show a profit at the end of the year, a sizable number of dollars is earned to offset operating expenses.

For example: the engineering records library of a major equipment manufacturer began receiving requests for information from the company’s customers. At first, it offered the information at no charge as an added customer service. As demand grew, more staff and equipment were required. The library director started to charge a fee for the service and found that clients did not mind paying for this valuable service. The director began to promote the services of the library to clients through the company’s sales force. Soon, he was recovering 45% of his operating budget through sales to customers. His boss was thrilled, and he got more money for staff, equipment and materials.

The advantages of the protected profit center are that additional funds can be generated that are not charged to administrative costs. Also, the library can provide a valuable service to the organization’s clients, for which they are willing to pay.

The disadvantage is that it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of earning money; one may lose sight of the real client – the organization’s own users.

Self-sufficient cost center
The self-sufficient cost center operates on a charge-back system. All services are charged back to the using department or division as they are used. The library has an objective to recover all or part of its operating budget.

An example of a self-sufficient cost center might be a library serving a company that is heavily oriented toward research and development. Each research project manager allocates money in his or her budget for information services. As the services are provided, the library charges the project account. At the end of the year, the library expense budget shows only a small portion of the actual cost of information services. In some instances, the net library account might equal zero, meaning that every dollar spent by the library was charged back to users. 
 
At one chemical company, the manager of information services reported he was able to charge back $1,1179,485 of his $1,189,000 budget. By setting up this charge-back system, he learned that 85% of his business was from research and development, and 15% from the rest of the company.

The advantage of the self-sufficient cost center is that operating expenses show up as part of the cost of doing R&D, and not as an item of “burden” under administrative expenses. The disadvantage is that spending may be tied to how much the library takes in. If there is not an active clientele willing to pay for information services, the library may be limited in its ability to expand. There is also the danger that potential users will go elsewhere if they can purchase the same services for less.

Cost-justified center
The cost-justified center operates on its own budget, provided by top management from administrative expenses. Requests for services are recorded, and a dollar value is placed on them. Each year, the library has an objective to achieve a set level of savings or value recognized. Usually this value is some multiple of actual costs.

Example: A company has a very active cost-saving program. Project teams explore ways to take cost out of the manufacturing process without sacrificing quality. Frequently, members of project teams come to the corporate library for assistance. By assigning a portion of the savings from a cost-improvement project to the efforts of the librarian, they demonstrated the value of library services. In this example, the librarian was able to get credit for several hundred thousand dollars in cost savings—an amount equivalent to three times the library’s operating budget (and this does not even include all of the services that were provided but could not be documented and cost justified).

Since cost savings go directly into corporate profits, it is relatively easy to demonstrate the value of the corporate library without getting involved in a lot of money transfers. The disadvantage of the cost-justified center is that the justification is based on an assumption about the portion of savings or recognized value that results from the services of the library. If that assumption cannot be easily validated or reasonably supported, it may be challenged later by some bright executive with a sharp pencil.

There are many ways to generate revenue or justify expenses. It is clear that top executives respond to managers who demonstrate the ability to run a sound business operation that contributes to bottom line results in a measurable way. It is not important which model profit center one selects; what is important is that the library’s money-making potential is clearly understood by the top executives who making the decisions that affect its future. For those things top executives best understand things they can count—in dollars and cents.

The concept of the enthusiastic customer
Successful business people recognize that there are three types of customers: satisfied, dissatisfied and enthusiastic.

A satisfied customer is one who got exactly what was expected from a product or service; a dissatisfied customer believes that he or she received less than what was expected; and an enthusiastic customer is one who got more than was expected.

Without question, the best way to promote a business is through word-of-mouth advertising—having enthusiastic customers tell other people what a great job the library did for them. One firm in the hospitality industry discovered an interesting piece of information about its customers: the dissatisfied ones each told an average of ten people about their bad experiences, yet the enthusiastic customers were likely to tell only three other people. Based on this example, one would need 3.3 enthusiastic customers for every dissatisfied one just to break even.

Dissatisfied customers have two possible choices of action. One is to come and complain. Complaining customers are easy to deal with—the author discusses this in a seminar called “Techniques for Communicating with the Upset Public.” The second choice is to stop using the service or to purchase it elsewhere. Customers who follow this option are the difficult ones to deal with. You often don’t know that they are unhappy; they just don’t come back.

Business strategy
Developing a business strategy is a process that involves taking an in-depth look at where you are now, and where you want to be at some clearly defined point in the future. Consider, also, what must be done to get there, and the forces that will help or hinder the effort.

Begin by asking four strategic questions:
  1. What is your business?
  2. Who are your clients? 
  3. What do they expect and
  4. How can you give them more than they expect. 
Consider what would happen if the library’s services were no longer available. Many businesses take their existence for granted. They assume they are so important that their customers cannot do without them. Yet, many established firms have, in fact, gone under, and others have quickly stepped in to fill the breach.

A special library has three types of customers: consumers, clients and sponsors. The consumer is the one who actually uses the information you provide; the client recognizes the need for information and makes arrangements to get it; while the sponsor is the one who ultimately approves payment. Sometimes, the consumer, client and sponsor are three separate individuals; at other times, they are one. The key is to identify all three.

For example, the president of the company requests the corporate librarian to gather information on a company that has just introduced a competing product. In this instance, the president is consumer, client and sponsor. In another situation, the president has directed a cost-improvement project to make certain recommendations. The team needs some information and the coordinator comes to the library with the request. The library’s budget is approved by the vice president for administration. Here, consumer, client and sponsor are three separate people.

What do customers expect? To find out, observe their reactions to the service the library does for them. Ask them what they like and don’t like about the service. In Search of Excellence, by Peters and Waterman, devotes a whole chapter to being “Close to the Customer.”

In order to give customers as much and more than they expect, one must meet their basic needs, get the information to the right person at the right time, and then, go a little further—give a little extra information, a little better service, a little better price, and give it sooner than promised.

It does not take any more time or energy to be cheerful and friendly than it does to be dull and uninteresting. The most powerful “extras” are those things that help to develop rapport with customers. A relationship based on comfort, trust and confidence is the best way to gain an enthusiastic customer.

Generally, there are two contrasting library strategies. One is called “dusting the books.” This is used by the corporate librarian whose image is projected as being isolated from users needs and more concerned with maintaining the collection. When users come to the library for information, they get the impression they are interfering with the librarian’s work. Most librarians hate this image, but they allow it to exist.

Then there is the “Disneyland” strategy. Following the wisdom of the late Walt Disney, this librarian defines the unique factor that makes the library different and attracts users. The librarian demonstrates and flaunts this service, making certain that it receives good word-of-mouth publicity from enthusiastic users—hopefully, all the way to the board of directors. This unique factor is never taken for granted. And the librarian is always bright, cheerful and optimistic, treating users like Guests, with a capital G. To increase both the library’s real and perceived value to the organization, follow these seven steps:
  1. Define your business
  2. Identify your customers (consumers, clients, sponsors)
  3. Determine what they expect from you
  4. Find out how they will pay for it
  5. Select the right “profit center” for you 
  6. Develop a business strategy 
  7. Give customers more than they expect—with a smile! 

The result will be a greater number of enthusiastic customers and greater recognition from management for the library’s contributions to the organization.
Received for review Feb. 13, 1984. Manuscript accepted for publication June 19, 1984. 

Stephen C. Tweed is president of Tweed Corporation, in Oil City, Pennsylvania, a management consulting firm specializing in business strategy and customer service. 

Bibliography 
Considine, Ray, and Raphael, Murray / The Great Brain Robbery, Los Angeles, Calif., Rosebud Books, 1980. 

Gibson, Larry / “After the Budget Freeze,” Training and Development Journal: 104-106. (Sept. 1980) 

Girard, Joe / How to Sell Anything to Anybody. New York, Warner Brothers, 1979. 

Nadler, Len / “What is Your Financial I.Q.?” Training and Development Journal: 64-68 (Oct. 1980). 

Owens, Frederick H. / “From Library to Information Service.” CHEMTECH: 464-468 (Aug. 1983). 

Peters, Thomas J., and Waterman, Robert H. / In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-run Companies. New York, Harper & Row, 1982. 

Shook, Robert L. / Ten Greatest Salespersons. New York, Harper & Row, 1978.

Thomas, Bob / Walt Disney, An American Original. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1980. 

Tregoe, Benjamin B., and Zimmerman, John W. Top Management Strategy. New York, Simon & Schuster, 1980. 

Tweed, Stephen C. Techniques for Communicating with the Upset Public. Oil City, Pa., Park Avenue Press, 1982. 

Tweed, Stephen C. / “How to Turn Your Training Department Into a Profit Center,” (cassette tape). Washington D.C., American Society for Training and Development, 1983 National Conference.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Write Procedures That Work

WE WRITE PROCEDURES because we want people to follow them. Unfortunately, many procedures are so poorly written that no one can follow them. A classic case of a poorly worded, overly condensed instruction is this puzzling sign, placed next to the elevators in a high-rise building: 
Some thought this is a magic formula, others thought that the elevator did not stop at every floor. In reality, this “simple” instruction meant to suggest that if those did not have far to go should take the stairs rather than tie up the elevator. (Chapanis, Alphonse, “Words, Words, Words,” Human Factors, No. 7, 1965, p. 1-17) 
Written procedures are a necessary part of library work. Complex operations must be performed by a variety of workers, many of whom are part time. Rapid turnover of part-time workers means that the training of new employees can take up a great deal of time. 
Library literature does not give guidance for the constantly recurring task of writing procedures manuals. However, there are professionals who make a career of this kind of writing and we can borrow some of their principles to make library procedures more useful. 
Words are primary
The tools of written communication are words, illustrations, typography and format. Librarians may be particularly prone to rely on words alone and need to be aware of the importance of illustrations and typography/format. 
Nevertheless, words do come first. The terminology and vocabulary used in procedure writing should be consistent. This is not the place for creativity or the use of synonyms. Terms should be consistent not only within a set of instructions but with regard to labels on equipment and supplies referred to within the text. 
State instructions in the shortest, simplest words possible so that they can be understood by all users. One writer confused his audience with “WARNING: The batteries in the AN/MSQ-55 could be a lethal source of electrical power under certain conditions.” The men using the equipment had written the words “LOOK OUT! THIS CAN KILL YOU!” on a piece of paper and placed it right next to the equipment. (Chapanis) The simplest words are best. For example:
PREFER TO
show demonstrate
try endeavour
use utilize
now at this point of time
can will be able to 
Although you should use the terminology appropriate to your discipline, avoid unnecessary jargon. Define the terms you use if they are not commonly known.

Use positive language. Negative statements frequently require interpretation and mental rephrasing. “Do not leave lights on at night” is less clear than “Turn off lights when you leave.” Save your negatives for warnings.

Indirect orders are also difficult to interpret. Figure 1 shows the contrast between a procedure written in indirect order and then in direct order.
 


Use simple, direct sentence structure. Procedures are written in second person imperative voice. This means that they are commands, not suggestions. Often procedures include the word “should”. This unnecessary word involves the use of a phrase that lengthens and clutters the procedure. Compare the two phrases in Figure 2.
Often unnecessary words have also been eliminated in the second phrase. The “you” is implied, not stated. A symbol for “Return” is used consistently throughout and explained at the beginning of the procedure.

A picture is worth…
Illustrations and examples can replace or amplify words, but are seldom seen in library procedures. As people have become more visually oriented, they may be able to understand a procedure better from a line drawing, a photograph, a flow chart, or a screen simulation
(Southard, Sherry G. “Usable Instructions Based on Research and Theory: Part 1,” Technical Communications, No. 35, 1988, p. 173-178.). It is much easier to provide a printout of an OCLC serials record, with the pertinent fields labeled, than it is to try to explain what one looks like. Good examples of this type of illustration can be seen in reference books, where a sample citation is provided.

All figures, tables, graphs, and illustrations used should be labeled and referenced in the text. Any of these used for more than one operation can be produced once and referenced. However, it is always better to have illustrations as close to the relevant text as possible and to repeat them wherever needed
(Walton, Thomas F. Technical Writing and Administration. McGraw, 1968).

Creating a visual effect
An element of procedures fully as important as words and sentence structure is format and typography. Formatting and typography create a visual effect and make employees willing, even eager, to use procedures.
(Southard, Sherry G. “Practical Considerations in Formatting Manuals,” Technical Communications, No. 35, 1988, p. 173-178)

When referring to format, the term “white space” is frequently used. Both vertical (indentation) and horizontal (space between steps) white space is of the greatest importance. Frequently, procedures written in libraries with tight budgets attempt to save paper by eliminating the use of white space. If procedures are produced that are not used, not only is the paper and ribbon used to produce them wasted, the time of the writer is wasted as well. Moreover, the nonuse of procedures may result in errors by the employee, an even graver waste of funds.

White space indicates where ideas begin and end. It gives an opportunity to rest the eyes and brain. It provides space to write, take notes, and draw sketches. Vertical white space indicates organization and subordination. Research indicates that all these elements make a procedure easier to understand and use.
(Southard, Sherry G. “Practical Considerations in Formatting Manuals,” Technical Communications, No. 35, 1988, p. 173-178).

Most procedures writers use numbering, but subordinate numbering can be used to greater effect, providing spatial location cues. This can affect the ability to return to information.
(Frase, Lawrence T. & Barry J. Schwartz, “Typographical Cues That Facilitate Comprehension,” Journal of Educational Psychology, Vol. 71, No. 2, 1979, p. 197-206.) At the lowest level of subordination, bullets can be used with good effect.

Another spatial location cue is headings. These should be brief but descriptive. Good use of headings enables the user to skip the material not needed. It should be possible to scan the headings and see what is being accomplished by the procedure.
(Walton)

As with vocabulary, consistency is important in format. Headings, indentations, and other visual cues should mean the same thing whenever they are used. Segmentation of text into meaningful components affect both initial understanding and recall, but inefficient formats embody few cues to the meaningful components of a text.
(Frase & Schwartz.)

Compare the examples in Figure 3 and Figure 4. Both give the same information, the first in a format typically used in library procedures. In the second, white space, subordinate numbering, and headings are used to give visual cues. A list of materials needed is supplied at the beginning and an illustration is included.
Figure 3
Receiving Books from a Major Vendor


  1. Open the box and remove the invoice. The books will be listed on the invoice in alphabetical order by title. Remove each book and check it against the order slip. The following items should match exactly: author, title, publisher, edition, year. If these items do not match, set the books aside for your supervisor. Highlight on the order slip the nonmatching items.

  2. If everything matches, stamp on the back of the order slip the date received and place the order slip in back of the title page so that the end with the purchase order number on it is visible.

  3. Find the title on the invoice. Check that the purchase order number is the same and the price is the same or less than the amount on the purchase order.

  4. If there is a typographical error in the purchase order number on the invoice, cross it out and write in the correct number. If the number is completely different, set the book aside for your supervisor.

  5. If the price on the invoice is higher than the price on the purchase order, look to see if there is a price authorization card in the book. Attach it to the invoice.

  6. If there is no price authorization card, refer to the chart of acceptable price increases taped to the receiving table. If the price increase falls within the acceptable range, proceed to the next step. If it does not, set the book aside for your supervisor.
Figure 4
Receiving Books from a Major Vendor

Materials needed
Empty book truck
Box opener
Date stamp on today's date
Stamp pad
Pencil
Post-it note pad
Highlighter


PROCEDURE

1. Open box, remove invoice, and set aside. An order slip will be inside each book at the title page.


2. Remove each book and check it against the order slip and the invoice.

a. Compare the book to the information on the order slip of the book. The following items should match exactly (see Figure 1).
* Author
* Title
* Publisher
* Edition
* Year

** If these items do not match, set the book aside for your supervisor. Highlight on the order slip the nonmatching items.

b. Turn the order slip over as if it were a check, and stamp the date at the top where you would endorse the check.

c. Place the order slip in the back of the title page so that the end with the purchase order on it is visible.

d. Titles are listed on the invoice alphabetically. Find the title on the invoice. Check that
* the Purchase Order Number is the same
* the price is the same or less than the amount on the purchase order

* If there is a typographical error in the purchase order number on the invoice, cross it out and write in the correct number. If the number is completely different, set the book aside for your supervisor. Attach a Post-it™ note explaining the problem.

* If the price on the invoice is higher than the price on the purchase order, look to see if there is a price increase authorization card in the book. Attach it to the invoice.

* If there is no price authorization card, refer to the chart of acceptable price increases taped to the receiving table. If the price increase falls within the acceptable range, proceed to the next step. If it does not, set the book aside for your supervisor.
Typographical reinforcement
Procedures can be made even more usable by the effective use of typographical aids such as capital letters, underlining, boldface, and italics. These techniques direct attention to especially important information, such as warnings, or new terms used for the first time. It is important to remember that the overuse of such techniques “produces instructions in which nothing seems important or distinct, and using too many different techniques produces documents that look cluttered. Inconsistent use of highlighting confuses readers.” (Southard, “Practical Considerations…”) Capitalization is effective when limited to two or three words. Longer text in all caps is difficult to read because the uniform shape of the words give no typographical cues. Similarly, long passages that are underlined or in italics are difficult to read.

A final visual aid that can be used to good effect is a box. A box is most effective when used for a caution or warning. In library work, we do not often have procedures to follow that are physically dangerous, but staff these days often are in a position to damage or line files. If boxes are used exclusively for warnings and cautions, they are more likely to be noticed and heeded.

Legibility in procedures is of the greatest importance. Once you have used appropriate vocabulary and syntax, paid attention to formatting and typographical aids, and added visuals aids, complete the job by using a good printer and new ribbon.

Remember your audience
If a procedure is to be used in training new employees, it is most useful to write the procedure for problem-free application. If 95 percent of the patrons at the circulation desk will have current IDs that entitle them to check out books, and 95 percent of the books will have circulation cards in them, write the procedure for those times when things will go as they should. Write an addendum that lists common problems that will arise and how to deal with them.

For problems that occur infrequently, or that require decision-making at the policy level, simply instruct the employee to consult a supervisor. Too many procedures try to outline the steps to be followed in every remote eventuality. They become so long and convoluted that it seems impossible to find the steps to follow in a routine situation.

For example, staff doing copy cataloging should not have to wade through masses of material intended for staff and librarians responsible for complex editing of substandard records and original cataloguing. Such procedures are really several procedures combined into one.

A procedure that frequently includes the word “if” may be a combination of more than one procedure, or an attempt to write a procedure for a level of professional decision-making that is too complex for a procedure. You may find that your task is made easier if you write your task for the trouble-free, most usual way of doing the task, and then write a separate series of guidelines for higher level staff to use when making decisions in problem situations.

Watch your step
A person should be able to follow a written procedure step by step without backing up or paging back and forth. In almost all cases, this means that chronological order will be followed, although occasionally it will make more sense to go from the general to the specific. It is extremely frustrating to get to Step 7 in a procedure and discover that there was something you should have done in Step 4 that wasn’t mention there.

Also to be avoided are “rightist” connotations—or procedures written for the right-handed. It is a good idea to have the procedure reviewed by a lefty if the writer is a righty, and vice versa, for there may be steps in the procedure that are not immediately apparent as creating difficulty.

Writing the procedure
As one expert on technical writing has outlined the writing of procedures:
Rather than starting with words, we need to start by asking what specific human actions we want to result from a set of instructions, and in what order we want these actions to occur. Then we need to compose the instructions piece by piece so that they will produce those actions in the correct order. (Chapanis)

  • Gather information: In order to write a procedure, you need to be thoroughly familiar with it yourself. Don’t sit at your desk and attempt to remember how the operation is done. Do it and write down each step as you do it. If it is a procedure that you aren’t thoroughly familiar with, shadow a person doing it, write down what they do, and ask questions as they proceed. Especially be sure to ask what to do at each step if it fails. 
  • List tools: At the top of the procedure, list the tools, equipment, and material needed. This follows the model of a sewing pattern; one of the best examples of well-written procedures. 
  • Write: First write the procedure in direct order for a problem-free session. 
  • Add instructions: Then add instructions for exceptions and problems, using indentation and typographical cues. Be sure at this point that you do not begin combining procedures. 
  • Test and evaluate: Have someone follow the procedure while you shadow. Have the user vocalize each step as it is done so that you can follow thought processes and misinterpretations. Two questions to answer during evaluation are:  
    • Can the instructions be followed?
    • Can the user find a particular piece of information when needed? (Gillihan, Dana & Jennifer Herrin, “Evaluating Product Manuals for Increased Usability,” Technical Communications. No. 35, 1988, p. 168-172)
  • Revise: Now revise, using the information you gained while testing and evaluating. Question the presence of every word. If it doesn't contribute to the message, delete it.
  • Check spelling: “Misspelling and typos reduce your credibility with the user. There’s no need to amplify this thought.”? (Goldfarb, Stephen M. “Writing Policies and Procedures Manuals,” Journal of Systems Management, No. 32, 1981, p. 10-12)
  • Stop: Evaluating, rewriting, proofreading all are essential, but a time comes when the procedure must be declared finished and ready to use. It is wise, however, once it has been in use for a while to see what users have written or drawn in the white space you have provided. These glosses may provide useful clues to what is needed in a later edition.
Word processing
Word processing provides the opportunity to use typographical aids and makes it easy to format and revise. While basic word processing can be a wonderful replacement for typing, learning to use some of the more sophisticated features of your system can be extremely beneficial. Procedures saved to disk can be updated and revised periodically, and procedures or portions of procedures can be printed whenever necessary.

It takes time and thought to write clear procedures, but the effort on your part will save a great deal of staff time. Your staff wants to be able to perform well and will welcome procedures that help them to do so.
Carol W. Cubberly is a Director of Technical Services, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Creative Budget Presentation: Using Statistics to Prove Your Point

Burgin, Robert. “Creative Budget Presentation: Using Statistics to Prove Your Point.” The Bottom Line Reader: A Financial Handbook for Librarians. New York: Neal-Schuman, c1990. 
The fine art of budget presentation is based on a two-step process: the request for funds and the defense of that request. Although both steps use statistics, it is the budget defense that demands the creative use of statistics. 
Establishing your library’s needs and proving its good stewardship (also known as effectiveness) are the bulwarks of budget defense. First you must convince the governing body that the funds requested are necessary to meet a need. Second you must remind the funding body that the library has used effectively the money it has received in the past. In short, the library’s case is that the money is needed and that it will be well spent. 
The ideal of statistical collection can be summed up briefly: if the library does it, count it. Yet, although libraries engage in a great variety of services and activities, few of these are counted. At budget time, however, any and all of these services and activities may be called into question by members of the funding body. If you can’t produce the evidence—including statistical evidence—to justify these activities, not only is your particular argument lost, but confidence in your ability may be eroded. If statistics in a specific area have not been collected, support for budget proposals in that area will probably be weaker than it should be. 
Overdue fines are an example of an activity where few statistics are kept. While all libraries devote staff time and effort in attempts to encourage the timely return of borrowed materials and to retrieve those that are not returned on time, few keep statistics concerning the effectiveness of their efforts. These statistics would be useful in defending a budget request for increasing the circulation staff or for automating the circulation system since studies show that libraries with automated circulation systems have lower overdue rates than do libraries with manual systems. (Patsy Hansel and Robert Burgin, “Hard Facts About Overdues,” Library Journal 108 (February 15, 1983): 349-352. Robert Burgin and Patsy Hansel, “More Hard Facts About Overdues,” Library & Archival Security 6 (Summer/Fall 1984): 5-17)
At the Forsyth County (North Carolina) Public Library System, we used these data in our request for automatic circulation (see Table 1). We compared our own overdues rate with the average for computerized libraries, estimated the drops in overdues that could be expected if we automated, and translated that percentage drop into books that would be returned and available for patrons. We found that if Forsyth County were automated, 2.59% or 41,019 more books would be available for the patrons to check out rather than being overdue. 
Table 1: Percentage of books still out on the date they were due (1983)
Forsyth County 11.31%
Libraries with Automated Circulation 8.72%
Difference 2.59%
Number of Books Circulated in Forsyth County 1,583,755
Statistics for Decision Making
Realistically, few librarians have the time to exhaustively collect statistics. And so, the collection effort must be focused by the goals and objectives of the library. Statistics, after all, are tools and not ends in themselves. The connection between the library’s goals and the statistics collection process cannot be overemphasized: statistics help in the formulation of reasonable goals, goals help focus the process of collecting statistical data. At the very least, then, the statistics collected should be relevant to the goals of the library and should enable you to determine whether the library’s goals are being met and, if not, how serious is the shortfall.
 
Collecting statistics requires efficient data collection methods. It should be a continuing process since collecting all the statistical data needed for a typical budget presentation would be too great a task to undertake at one time. Using microcomputers and spreadsheets, statistical data can be collected and compiled efficiently and in a time-saving manner. (Claudia Perry-Holmes, “LOTUS 1-2-3 and Decision Support: Allocating the Monograph Budget,” Library Software Review (July-August 1985)” 205-213). While the article focuses on the use of spreadsheet software in an academic library, the ideas presented can easily be translated into the public library’s environment. See also Philip M. Clark, “Processing Numbers with Spreadsheet Programs,“ New Jersey Libraries 18 (Summer 1985): 17-19). Gathered throughout the year, data should be saved on disk until needed at budget time. 
Libraries with large automated systems for circulation and cataloging also can use these systems for gathering and manipulating a sophisticated range of data for decision and budget support, as Ken Dowlin and others have pointed out (Kenneth C. Dowlin, “The Use of Standard Statistics in an On-Line Library Management System,” Public Library Quarterly 3 (Spring/Summer 1982): 37-46). In fact, this may be one of their least utilized but most exciting capabilities. 
Continually presenting statistical data to your funding board is as important as the continuous collection of the data. Funding officials should be accustomed to receiving status reports on the library regularly, as part of the monthly report, for example, and not just at budget time. Through this ongoing review you educate the funding officials, helping them to understand certain statistics by frequently presenting arguments that employ them. If this process of education has not been ongoing, it may be too late at budget time to not only present and defend a budget, but educate officials as to what theses statistics mean. 
Remember, these statistics do not exist in a vacuum. They are a reference to something else—either an internal yardstick or an external. Internal yardsticks can be goals and objectives and comparisons with historical data. External yardsticks are the performance of other libraries and library standards. 
Internal comparisons
Good data collection, guided by the goals and objectives of the library, will enable you to compare realities with possibilities. Comparing goals and statistics relates to the two arguments expressed in budget defense: need and good stewardship. As a part of the needs argument you might note that the library’s goals have not been met and cannot be met without the requested funds. For the good stewardship argument you can remind members of the funding body that the library has met its goals in the past and can be expected to spend the requested funds in an equally wise and effective fashion.
 
In Forsyth County, for example, the covering sheet of our budget presentation summarized the goals and objectives of our past budget year and noted which goals had been met and which still needed to be met. The presentation was based on relevant statistics that had been gathered. 
Another approach is to compare the library’s most recent performance with its past performance in order to show that the library is improving (in order to make the case for good, efficient use of funding) or that the situation is not as good as it once was (in order to establish that a need exists). At the Wayne County (North Carolina) Public Library, we were able to show the commissioners and city council members data (see Table 2) on growing circulation as evidence that the increased funding of recent years paid off and should be continued. 
Table 2: Circulation Change 1975-1981
Wayne County Book Circulation Wayne County Annual Increase State Average Annual Increase
1975-76 143,853
1976-77 166,503 15.7% 0.9%
1977-78 205,559 21.7% 4.3%
1978-79 218,979 8.1% 3.1%
1979-80 221,243 1.0% 3.1%
1980-81 225,085 15.3% 9.4%
External comparisons
External statistics—the performance of other libraries and library standards—provide a yardstick against which to measure performance. For example, book circulation statistics alone are meaningless. But they can be made meaningful by comparing them with internal data. For instance, how much has circulation increased over the past year? Even more meaning can be given to a level of activity by comparing it to the level of activity of other libraries or to an established standard. For instance, how does per capita circulation compare with other similar libraries?
 
There are a number of sources of statistics and standards for external comparisons, including national and regional data. Statewide statistical reports also are issued by most state library agencies. Most important is to collect reasonably compatible statistics so that external comparisons can be made. An argument for the adoption of ALA’s output measures is that they provide a common core of statistical data for use by libraries across the country. Or, since most state libraries require an annual statistics reports, these reports can provide a shared set of data for use by libraries in an individual state and by libraries outside the state. 
Making comparisons
One way to present comparison data is to boast that the library is meeting its goals or improving its performance (using internal statistics), or to claim that the library is the best in some area (using external statistics). This approach generally serves the argument of effective stewardship—that the library has done an admirable job with funds provided in the past and can be counted on to continue the good work. There is an implied argument of need in this positive approach—the users are accustomed to this fine level of library service and need to have it continue. 
Conversely, evidence of great need may be presented to the funding body based on the fact that the library is the worst in some area. When using such data, of course, try to avoid blaming or being blamed for the situation; instead, show that in spite of the worst you and your staff are trying; and constantly report progress to your funding body. 
At the Wayne County Public Library we supported our request for additional book money by pointing out that the library was the last in the state in the number of books per capita. We were quick to note why this was the case—that until recently, the library had not had the space to house many new books. We also reminded the commissioners and council members that this was no longer the case. Our new facility could house several times the collection of the old building and we were doing the best we could without limited resources—our turnover rate was one of the highest in the state. We also shared with everyone the successful results of increased book funds: our book collection was the fastest growing in the state (see Table 3). We added more books in one year than did many libraries with larger overall budgets and we jumped out of last place in the state in books per capita. 
Table 3: Book collection change 1976-1981
Wayne County Book Collection Wayne County Annual Increased State Average Annual Increased
1976-77 32,968
1977-78 41,434 25.7% 3.9%
1978-79 44,202 6.7% 2.7%
1979-80 53,255 20.5% 3.1%
1980-81 58,202 9.3% 2.8%
1976-77 to 1980-81 76.5% 12.8%
 
Presenting statistical data
While statistical data are important, the way in which those data are presented is crucial. Although the ideal of statistical collection is the thorough enumeration of all library activities, the ideal of statistical presentation is brevity. Most funding bodies do not have the time to sift through an abundance of figures; they should have only the highlights presented to them. The general budget presentation—and the defense—should be succinct, using only a few relevant, core statistics—statistics that the funding officials have been educated to understand. But, the statistical arsenal should be thorough in order to answer all possible questions and meet potential objections. You should be able to defend any specific budget area briefly and concisely.
 
Per capita or not
Should statistics be expressed as raw data or in per capita terms? There is a maxim in the legal profession that if the case is weak on facts, one should argue based on principle, and vice versa. And so, if your case is better presented using raw data, use raw data; if your case is better presented using per capita data, use per capita data.
 
Realistically, few librarians have the time to exhaustively collect statistics. And so, the collection effort must be focused by the goals and objectives of the library. Statistics, after all, are tools and not ends in themselves. The connection between the library’s goals and the statistics collection process cannot be overemphasized. 
Especially with larger systems, the sheer volume expressed by raw data will be sufficient to make a point or to allow a comparison. At the Forsyth County Public Library, we tended to base our presentations on our being the state’s leading or second leading library in book circulation, reference services, and the like—all expressed in raw data. In Wayne County, however, the dearth of books could only be expressed adequately in per capita terms. We ranked an unexciting fortieth or so out of seventy public libraries in North Carolina in book holdings, and a deplorable last in the state in book holdings per capita. 
How much is that in service?
Budget presentation should translate everything into service—both requests for more money and potential cuts. In Wayne County, when we requested that the position of children’s librarian be upgraded to a professional position and that our programs in that area be expanded, we could estimate the number of additional children who would be served. When we requested more book money, we were able to estimate how many books that money would buy, how many circulations would result, and how many people would be served:
 
In 1980, the average volume added cost the Wayne County Library $9.39. In 1980, the average volume in Wayne County was checked out 4.4 times. 
A $10,000 increase in the book budget in 1980 would have:
  • purchased 1,065 more volumes
  • resulted in 4,686 more circulations 
Funding cuts should also be translated into the effects they will have on services: Will hours be reduced? At what cost in circulation in materials? In people served? Talk in terms of constituents and voters. The members of the funding body are often elected officials. They understand that the individuals being served by the library are also the individuals who will cast votes for or against them or their party. 
How much is that in candy bars?
Two years ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that pointed to a trend among the advertisers of America’s largest corporations: “If Camel smokers had walked a mile for every Camel produced by R.J. Reynolds, they would have walked to the sun and back more than 17,000 times,” claimed one ad. “Two ships the size of the Queen Elizabeth II could be floated in the ocean of Hawaiian Punch Americans consume annually,” declared another
(“If All Our Reporters Are Laid End to End … They Don’t Report,” Wall Street Journal 4 April 1983). 
Outrageous presentations draw attention to the sheer volume of success of the particular company in terms that the consumer will remember. Three trillion cigarettes may be a lot of cigarettes, but that figure doesn’t make the same impression as 17,000 trips to the sun and back. 
You can also dress up your library’s statistics in exciting terms. In reporting on the same Wall Street Journal article elsewhere, I suggested the following as examples of what could be done: “All the people who attended programs in North Carolina’s public libraries last year could fill the Rose Bowl 60 times” and “Public Libraries in North Carolina checked out enough books last year to line the road from Manteo to Murphy [the end points of the state] eight times.” 
The politics of budget presentation
The budget process is not an entirely rational one. Where one set of commissioners will be proud of the library’s standing as the best-funded in the state, another set will find this an indication that the library’s budget can be cut. Where one group will think twice about cutting the library’s budget if it means closing a certain branch, another will cut the budget and order the librarian to keep the branch open anyway.
 
The data used for budget presentations quite naturally vary from library to library and, within the same library, from budget presentation to budget presentation. For example, in Wayne County we made two budget presentations each year—one to the county commissioners and one to the city council. The statistical data needed for each presentation differed because the arguments that satisfied one group differed from those that satisfied the other. 
What remains constant, however, is the need to use statistics when defending budget requests. Ideally, we should have a thorough arsenal of statistical tools and be able to use it in a flexible fashion in order to meet any contingency. We should be prepared. 
For example, be aware of statistics that might argue against a point, but don’t present statistics that won’t help, the case. In addition to being aware of them, be prepared to explain the apparent discrepancy between what is being requested and the supposed evidence against the case. 
The budget presentation and any related presentation of statistics should be rehearsed. Have a colleague play the devil’s advocate by asking for statistical justification of budget requests, by pointing out which statistics seem irrelevant or poorly presented, and by using statistics to argue against what is being requested. 
Finally, look at others’ budget presentations, especially those from nonlibrary institutions. What statistics are they using to back up their funding requests? Which statistics were the most successful? Which were best received? 
Easily applied statistical formulas
Statistics need not be esoteric or complex to be effective. In fact, to help present the case for budget support, they should be just the opposite. The most useful formulas, such as those shown below, offer the opportunity for multiple variations on a theme.
 
Since there are physical limits to the amount of statistics that can be gathered, the library’s goals must give direction to the statistics-gathering effort. The goals should help determine what data are collected and the statistics should help formulate the goals. Finally, of course, the library’s goals should determine the development of its budget request. 
Six Very Easy Statistical Formulas 
1. Annual % Increase = 
This Year’s Figure – Last Year’s Figure
Last Year’s Figure
 
Example: Forsyth County Library
1982-83 Operating Expenditures $2,661,991
1983-84 Operating Expenditures $2,782,764  
Percentage Increase: 1982-83 to 1983-84 =
$2,782,764-$2,661,991
$2,661,991  

Annual % Increase = 4.54%

2. % Increase
Over Several Years Final Yr’s Figure-Beginning Yr’s Figure
Beginning Yr’s Figure

Example: Forsyth County Public Library
1978-1979 Operating Expenditures $1,463,907
1983-1984 Operating Expenditures $2,782,764

Percentage increase
1978-1979 to 1983-1984 $2,782,764-$1,463,907
$1,463,907
% Increase Over Several Years = 90.1%

3. Service Level Per Capita
Service Level
Population Served

Example: Forsyth County Public Library
1983-84 Book Circulation 1,583,755
1983-84 Population Served 249,172

Book Circulation Per Capita= 1,583,755
249,172 = 6.36
4. Service Level Per Unit
Service Level Per Unit = Service Level
Units Under Consideration

Example: Forsyth County Public Library
1983-1984 Book Circulation 1,583,755
1983-1984 Staff (FTEs)
.953

Book Circulation Per Staff Member = 1,583,755
95.3 16,618.6
5. Collection Turnover
Collection Turnover = Circulation of Collection
Items in Collection

Example: Forsyth County Public Library
1983-84 Book Circulation 1,583,755
1983-84 Book Circulation 355,550

Book collection turnover = 1,583,755
355,550 = 4.72
6. Cost to Circulate an Item
Cost to Circulate an Item = Operating Expenditures
Items Circulated

Example: Forsyth County Public Library
1983-84 Operating Expenditures $2,782,764
1983-84 Book Circulation 1,583,755

Cost to Circulate an Item = $2,782,764

1,583,755 = $1.76

Monday, November 20, 2017

Budgeting and statistics

Types of budgets 
  • Line-item 
    • Most familiar, money allocated for each item 
  • Lump sum 
  • Formula
    • Usually used in Collection Development 
    • Depends on the number of users 
  • Program 
    • What is it going to cost? 
  • Planning Programming Budget System 
  • ZBB 
    • Zero basis budget 
Line-item 
  • Expenditures are divided into broad categories Advantages
    • Easy to prepare 
    • Easy to understand and justify 
  • Disadvantages
    • Difficult to shift funds between categories
    • Not related to services
    • Assumes what you are doing is essential 
    • Assumes you are cost-effective 
Example of line-item
Salaries $80,000
Fringe benefits $35,000
Books & subs $6,000
Binding $3,500
Office supplies $51,000
Travel $2,000
Total $131,600

Lump sum
  • An amount is allocated to the library and manager decides how it will be spent
  • Advantages
    • More flexible than line-item 
  • Disadvantages 
    • Money allocated first rather than costs determined 
    • Hard to justify 
Formula budget 
  • This is most often used for acquisitions budgets in college and university libraries
  • Standards are set for the number of volumes per capita for students, graduate students, faculty, etc. 

Program budget 
  • Library’s activities are highlighted and the costs given for each activity 
  • Steps 
    • Define program objective
    • Delineate major activities
    • Determine nature and level of resources
    • Develop budget requirements 
    • State the requirements 
  • Advantages
    • Gives estimate of cost of provision of each program or service 
    • Helps to decide whether to continue, modify or drop a program or service 
  • Disadvantages
    • Complex and time consuming 
      • Especially first time around 
    • Hard to estimate actual costs 

Planning programming budget system (PPBS) 
  • Same as program budget, only woven into the total strategic planning process of mission and goals 
  • Advantages 
    • Emphasizes cost of accomplishing goals 
    • Often gives you a unit cost of service
  • Disadvantages 
    • Disadvantages are the same as program budgets 

Example of PPBS 
  • Goal: To manage a resource library collection 
  • Resource required
    • Librarian (1/4 time)
    • Library Technician (1/3 time)
    • Serials budget 
    • Book budget 
    • Library management software maintenance contract
    • Library supplies 
    • Cataloguing utility charges
    • Document Delivery charges 
ZBB
  • Concerned with future needs
  • Requires justification of each unit of work 
  • Units of work must be assigned levels of importance 
  • Steps 
    • Identification of decision package
    • Ranking of decision packages 

Preparing budgets 
  • May be a set amount and you must work within it 
  • You may only have control over acquisitions and supplies budget 
  • Staff and capital expenditures often outside your responsibility
  • Statistics kept to determine average costs and to predict future demands 

Libraries as cost centres 
  • True profit centre 
    • Profit making segment of the business
    • Library sells its services outside the company and is held accountable for making a profit 
      • Must make money 
    • Library no longer serves the internal information needs for the company 
      • Must provide information to the outside world
      • E.g., ALA’s library for retired persons creating database for aging articles, end up selling these through Dialog, becoming a business venture 
  • Protected profit centre 
    • Primarily services the needs of its own organization 
    • Some services are offered outside the company
    • Sales profits are put back into the library operating budget and offsets portion of costs 
  • Self-sufficient cost centre 
    • Charges back for services 
    • Objective is to recover all or part of operating budget 
    • Library not seen as burden, but part of the cost of other areas doing business 
  • Cost-justified centre 
    • Operates on own budget
    • Requests for services recorded and a value is placed on the services often in terms of savings for the company 
      • e.g. patent search seen as saving $100,000 worth of development of a product which has already been patented.
    • Strictly for special libraries for profiting business 

Some specifics 
  • Find out how you are to handle exchange rate
  • How are taxes handled, especially GST 
    • Differs from libraries, for estimating book costs 
  • Follow same accounting system as parent organization 
  • Keep your own records the way you feel necessary 
More on statistics
  •  Why do we keep them?
    • Record of activities in library 
    • Planning tool to show growth, decline 
      • Peak periods
      • Hire more people 
    • Benchmarking against other libraries or standards 
      • See what comparables are doing 
      • Can you improve? 
What type of statistics should we keep? 
  • National Core Library Statistics Program (NCLSP) 
    • LAC has determined basic statistics which should be kept in all libraries and reported to the National Library 
    • All types of libraries except schools have participated 
Categories of statistics kept by NCLSP
  • Staffing 
  • Expenditures on staff and collections 
  • Collections (books, other, serial) 
  • Services (informational transactions, circulation) 
  • ILL stats (both received and requested) 

Problems with NCLSP 
  • Very broad statistics
  • Very traditionally based 
  • Doesn’t take into account electronic resources 
  • Not useful in special libraries
  • But since stats can no longer keep stats on libraries…. 
1999 report 
https://web.archive.org/web/20050519081926/http://www.collectionscanada.ca/obj/r3/f2/02-e.pdf

Monday, November 13, 2017

Procedures Manual Activity

Note in every library and/or different circulation system, procedures may vary

Charging out a book in an automated circulation setting 
  1. Click Borrower Services. 
  2.  Search for the borrower’s name or their student number. 
  3. Press Enter to initiate search. Their library record should appear.
  4. Scan the item barcode.
    1. If barcode is worn, key in the barcode. 
  5. Item is added to the Check Out Items list. 
Opening procedures in a library
  1. Arrive 30 minutes before opening. 
  2. Turn on lights, computers, photocopiers, etc.
  3. Check drop off 
  4. Check phone, fax, e-mail messages
  5. Check interlibrary loans; send, receive, process
    **If time available, contact interlibrary loan recipients 
  6. Collect/send mail
  7. Return books
  8. If time, shelve returned books 
  9. Unlock public door just before library opens; rotate open/closed sign 
Closing procedures in a library
  1. Ten minutes before closing, warn any patrons in library they must be prepared to leave
  2. Ensure all computers are logged off and turn off monitors. (Turn off computers if there are no classes the following day) 
  3. Push in all the chairs and dispose of any garbage.
  4. Close all doors that need to be closed.
  5. Lock any safe keeping drawers. The drawer should be locked at all times. 
  6. Turn off all lights. 
  7. Ensure that the main library door is locked before exiting.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Policies and Procedures

Policy vs. Procedure
  • Policy manual describes the why of an operation 
  • Procedure manual describes the how of an operation 
    • Blueprint of how library functions 
What should policies be? 
  • Consistent
  • Reflective of objectives and plans
  • Flexible
  • Distinguished from rules and procedures
  • Written 
Advantages of policies 
  • Available in same form to all staff 
    • In manual
    • Online 
  • Can be referred to 
  • Clarifies any potential misunderstandings 
  • Indicative of honesty and integrity 
  • Readily disseminated 
  • Available to new employees 
    • As part of training process 
  • Process of written focuses thoughts about policies 
  • Generates confidence in leadership and fairness 
Why have a manual? 
  • Orient new staff members 
  • Help in performing duties consistently
    • Gives assurance
    • Makes sure it’s done properly 
  • Assist substitute or short-term workers 
  • Help explain procedures to patrons 
  • The manual must be a reasonable size. 
Writing tips 
  • Break down tasks into chronological steps 
    • What do you do when? 
  • Use consistent terms 
  • State instructions in plain language 
    • Brief short sentences 
  • Use positive language for instructions
    • Tell people what to do 
  • Use negative language for warnings
    • Must have dire hard consequences 
  • Write procedures in second person imperative
    • “Do this” not “He or she does that” 
    • Straight forward instructions 
  • Pictures really are worth 1,000 words
  • Screen shots are really helpful 
  • Flow charts give a visual guide to decision making
    • Really helps, forces to ask right question 
  • Make the most of white space and headings
    • Must be easy to focus on 
  • Reinforce items with use of font or layout (e.g. Box around important element) 
    • E.g. Boxes around warnings 
  • If terms repeated frequently, think of short form which can be used consistently 
  • ‹ Enter › rather than Press enter key 
  • Have procedures read by lefties, sometimes we are too right-hand oriented
  • Use page protectors for items consulted often 
Sample manuals 
Roger Williams Library https://web.archive.org/web/20040223192022/http://library.rwu.edu/circmanual.pdf University of Wisconsin-Madison Library http://college.library.wisc.edu/cpm/intro.html