Budgeting for library technical services in an electronic age.

Author:Oyelude, Adetoun A.


Library technical services include selection, acquisition, cataloguing, classification, typing, binding, conservation, and related services (Nwalo, 2003:117). They can be classed as the "behind the scenes" services that are done before users can make use of library services. This paper focuses on technical services in an electronic or computer-based library system and the need for budgeting in libraries, including requirements or considerations when budgeting, technical services in a consortium, and best practices in budgeting. Budgeting standards for automated technical services are recommended.

The Need for Budgeting in Libraries

A budget is a guide or directive for fiscal management. Libraries need funds for services, and these services must be budgeted for. Fletcher (1990) gives two definitions of a budget, calling it "the overall picture of ... allocations (for expenditure) and ... income," as well as "the financial allocation for specific purpose or purposes during a given period." Although libraries are service-oriented and have little or no revenue-generating motives or objectives, they still obviously require a budget. Technical services is not a significant source of income in the library system. Very small amounts of income are made from reprography and binding, but the amount is infinitesimal compared to the funds expended on technical services.

The need for budgets in libraries is increasingly important. In public institutions, government funding continues to dwindle. The literature (books and journals) that must be managed continues to grow. There is an increasing demand for online resources and services. Libraries must effectively divide funds between staff and materials, which include acquisitions, services, and equipment. Library fiscal management is becoming more decentralized. Current trends give a measure of financial control to divisional, sectional, and unit librarians.

It is within this framework that budgeting for library technical services is approached.

Technical Services Budget Considerations

A number of studies have been carried out on budgets and financing of library services (Rosenberg & Raseroka, 2000; Ubogu, 2003; Smallen and McCredie, 2003; Emojorho, 2004); however, budgeting for technical services has received little attention. Most discussions of budgeting for technical services use a line-item budget as a focus. A line budget itemizes elements of the budget, which add up to the totality of what the library hopes to spend in any fiscal year. Perhaps the most important item to budget for in technical services is personnel.Personnel, for these services can be broken into three: Professional staff, technical staff, and auxiliaries. Tools, equipment, and supplies are also important, and services and functions are also included in the technical services budget, as is equipment maintenance. Those include cataloguing and catalogue maintenance, labeling, binding, serials control, and reprography, as well as others, depending on the type of library and its goals.

Especially when libraries are automated, there should be guaranteed sources of funding. Automation is more expensive than manual systems. When libraries are planning for automation, not enough may be allocated and some costs are either underestimated or overlooked. Smallen and McCredie (2003) prescribe solutions that go beyond "budget dust," i.e., using funds that come as windfalls, that come occasionally, and that cannot be relied on to be available on an ongoing basis.

Technical Services within Consortia

Consortia are a form of cooperation or resource sharing among groups of libraries and information centers. In technical services, cooperative acquisition, joint cataloguing and classification, and shared union catalogues are aspects that are shared. Library consortia encourage participating libraries to digitize collections, create online catalogues, and improve information technology (Sam, 2005). For this to happen, technical services must be up-to-date in skills, equipment, and technology. Ekpenyong (2005) calls for renewed consortial efforts among university libraries while identifying constraints that can militate against such projects, including funds, infrastructure for networking, uninterrupted power supply, and training for technical services personnel.

Budgeting is most necessary in an emerging ICT environment. The cost of ICT hardware and software is also very high (Adeyemi, 2002; Akintunde, 2006). There are automated tools and databases for ordering and cataloging, including OCLC's WorldCat, the public catalogs of the Library of Congress, and vendor databases such as Blackwell's Online. The use of these tools has led to the creation of union catalogues. At the University of Botswana Library (UBL) for example, the selection, ordering, receipt, cataloging and routing of materials are done online. UBL is a...

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