Introduction and Context
The Claremont University Consortium (CUC) provides library services to seven liberal arts colleges in the Claremont area of California. There is one library, of which the Claremont Colleges Digital Library (CCDL) is part, to serve all seven colleges. The consortium of colleges within the CUC contributes to the CCL’s budget. The budget of the CCDL is examined using performance measurement, and benchmarking frameworks within this report. Additionally, recommendations for use of requests for proposal (RFP) are proposed.
The primary budget issue facing the CCDL was marrying differing institutions resource needs with the shared CUC budget. In the CCDL strategic planning fiscal year 2006-2007, two strategic objectives are established: 1) collaborate across institutions, and 2) expand electronic access and services. As the CCDL serves the seven colleges that fund it, its efficiency will be measured by its ability to serve these institutions as proposed by its strategic objectives.
Critique and Implications
Although specific dollar accountability was not found in the CCDL’s collection nor the CUC’s public documents, my team and I were able to find general budget directives in Maria Savova’s presentations (2018). Savova, Director of Scholarly Information Resources for the Claremont Colleges Library, provided these presentations as part of studies on library materials budgets in the Digital Age. The materials budgets will be evaluated against the following:
Performance Measurement: McKinney (2015) teaches us that performance measurement is the evaluation of specific criteria related to a program in a budget, and measurement of these criteria require data. In the case of the CCDL, the criteria are successful collaboration across institutions, and acquisition of electronic resources.
Benchmarking: McKinney describes benchmarking as understanding the process to achieve a measurable outcome. In the case of the CCDL, potential for improvement of the criteria are reducing expenditure on redundant resources and streamlining patron use of remaining electronic resources.
The CCDL’s efforts align with McKinney’s performance measurement schema as the CCDL identifies the specific needs of library patrons in a “four-dimensional faceted schema to accommodate four essential aspects of library expenditure:” format, type, mode, and cost (Savova 2018). The format and type facets account for patronized products (such as DVD’s and e-Journals), while the mode and cost facets address how the CCDL will allocate for the needs (such as subscriptions and departments served). Providing specific facets creates criteria, and allows for specific measurement against the acquisition goals. For instance, Savova presented that the Social Sciences ongoing-costs to maintain current e-Journal and e-Book subscriptions could not be met and would require some cancellations or reduced spending on print media. As the CCDL’s goal is further acquisition of e-resources, a reduction of spending on print media is appropriate to achieve the goal.
The CCDL’s efforts do not align with McKinney’s benchmarking process, however, as the budgeting schema does not address how to connect results with continued improvement. Expanding on Savova’s example of the Social Sciences e-journal and e-book subscriptions: there is no process to evaluate where subscriptions may be redundant, and which subscriptions are most used by patrons, nor is there a link to costs associated with the subscriptions and performance across institutions. The budget itself accounts for some cross-institutional relevance, as Savova explains, “a JSTOR Arts and Sciences collection might be allocated with a percentage to the Humanities and a percentage to the Social Sciences based on the list price or number of the journals from the respective disciplines” (2018). However, there is no means to evaluate cross-institutional use, which is the key to achieving the strategic objectives presented by the CCDL. It is not enough to provide the resources: the budget should reflect how well these provisions are perform the desired task. For example, if neither the Humanities nor Social Sciences departments are using the JSTOR collections, the subscription should be discontinued.
I examined the CCDL budgets against the program plans and allocation resources publicly available for review, but it would strengthen my analysis to find documents that address the monitoring of operations and measurement of results to better evaluate if the CCDL addressed McKinney’s benchmarking process (p. 349). It would be helpful to have documents that address the use of the resources against the four facets Savova presents in the Budget Implementation Guide.
Conclusion and recommendation
Although the CCDL’s budget documents do not directly address a benchmarking process, relative efficiency of the organization and performance measurement is clear from Savova’s examples of capital allocations. The CCDL was able to address the needs of patrons for e-resources; it acquired new e-subscriptions or sustained existing e-subscriptions by cutting allocation to print collections. Many of these subscriptions, such as JSTOR collections, served multiple institutions.
In order to encourage the establishment of a clear benchmarking process, I propose that the CCDL use Clegg’s RFP methodology before purchasing or ceasing e-subscription services (2006). As the RFP “needs to be carefully designed and built around…objectives and business requirements,” the process of producing RFP’s for e-resources will encourage the CCDL to establish more specific goals and expectations for the resources (Clegg 2006). This will likely result in reduced costs for each subscription as well. Using RFP’s will allow the CCDL to better determine redundancies in the collections purchased, and reduce subscriptions needed to provide patron services effectively.
Claremont Colleges Digital Library. (2006) CCDL strategic planning fiscal year 2006-2007. Retrieved from http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/adl/id/30/rec/4
Clegg, H., & Montgomery, S. (2006, June). How to write an RFP for information Products. Information Outlook, 10(6), pp. 23-33.
McKinney, J. B. (2015). Effective financial management in public and nonprofit agencies (4th ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.
Savova, M. (2018, January). A faceted materials budget implementation guide for academic Libraries. Library Staff Publications and Research, 61. pp. 1-20.