Using Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing in Assessing Acquisition process: A case Study in Estonian University Libraries

Kate-Riin Kont


Introduction The purpose of the present paper is to analyse the cost of activities related to acquisition process in Estonian university libraries based on the example of the time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) method. More specifically, the study concerned both the acquisition process of foreign documents as well as domestic documents.
Research and methodology The case study was conducted by the paper’s author, held in 2013 in a medium-sized university library (Tallinn University of Technology Library) and in a small-sized university library (Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre Library). Two hypotheses were posed: 1) it is cheaper to acquire a domestic document than to acquire a foreign document; and 2) the acquisition process is cheaper in a small-sized library than in a medium-sized library. In accordance with the analysis of the previously conducted research, the study was divided into the following stages: identification of key activities, identification of all resources, involved in the process, identification of the capacity cost rate and determination of time spent on activities.
Results and discussion The TDABC is well suited for a library setting, involving many activities with complex time drivers. The TDABC seems to be one of the best tools for understanding cost behavior and for refining a cost system for university libraries. This is also a great method for mapping the organizations’ activities and processes. Library personnel willingly participated in the time measurements. The course of the study was understandable to all its participants. Although the documenting the activity flows and data collection to gather the time duration can be time-consuming for researcher, and uncomfortable for the staff of being observed, it enables to seek out how it would be possible to shorten the time consumed for certain activities and, by this, turn it more cost-effective without damaging the work quality. While integrating the TDABC method with the analysis of library performance indicators, the more valuable data is possible to produce for managerial decisions.


Keywords: cost accounting, time-driven activity-based costing, case studies, university libraries



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