Using Qualitative Methods in Measuring Work Efficiency of Library Services

Kate-Riin Kont


Current presentation aims to clarify what kind of qualitative methods have been used in assessing the work efficiency of libraries through library history and how the new cost accounting models, such as activity-based costing (ABC) and time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) are researched and adapted by university libraries, focusing on the methods used for measuring work time allocation.

The data used in this paper are based on reviewing and summarizing of relevant studies which were conducted in libraries inspired by the ideas of modern theoretical considerations and treatments relating to cost accounting and costing, originally developed for industry and private sector organizations. Cost accounting as well as time and motion studies related with scientific management ideas of libraries throughout history have been closely related to the identification of performance – effectiveness, efficiency and productivity – or in other words, how efficient is the employees’ use of their work time. Efficiency equals results divided by costs, in other words, the efficiency of employees means how much good quality work is being done in as short time as possible.Traditional cost accounting research as well as new cost accounting researches such as activity-based costing and time-driven activity-based costing in libraries have almost always combined both qualitative and quantitative methods, like analysis of statistical data (e.g. collecting all types of accounting data about the costs that occur in the production of library services), documents (e.g. job descriptions), time sheets and time diaries, observations, interviews or questionnaires.


Keywords: cost accounting, timing, activity-based costing, time-driven activity-based costing, work efficiency



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