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Cost Benefit Analysis and Library

“A library has been rightly enabled with the functions of collecting, preserving, preparing and disseminating knowledge with a certain aim-the aim being the fulfillment of the purpose of the parent body” (Mittal, 1963). The general aim of libraries is the provision of reading facilities to the public so that their personality is enlightened. These aims and purposes differ to some extent in different kinds of libraries. In public libraries, the aim of the library is to provide inspiration, recreation, and information to the readers so that they can become ideal citizens and that they may be able to perform their duties properly. In the case of academic libraries, the libraries have to provide the reading materials particularly in accordance with the curricula of various disciplines to help the students to grasp knowledge for examination purposes, besides their general mental development. These aims can be fulfilled only if all relevant reading materials including books, periodicals, etc are made available to the readers.Cost Benefit analysis in library

In the present scenario, all types of libraries are facing problems due to the explosion of literature, escalation of prices, growing demands of users and shrinking budget, etc. To overcome these problems, librarians have to adapt to different ways and means. In this era of decreasing financial resources and increasing demands for accountability, libraries all over the world are facing the challenge of representing and quantifying their value to their funders and stakeholders.

In the context of academic libraries, librarians must prove their value to the institution in order to secure the financial resources necessary to serve the university and research community. As Financial Authorities weigh competing priorities and allocate limited resources, they need concrete evidence of how the library supports the institution’s strategic goals. In addition, they need evidence that helps them weigh the value of new discretion. As the library administrators make budgeting decisions, librarians are asked to prioritize their products and services to focus on those entities that are most effective in serving the institutional mission with increasing financial challenges. In this economic crisis, librarians with the help of management tools such as Cost-benefit analysis can prove the value or worth as well as justify the expenditure of the library’s collections and services.

Cost-Benefit Analysis is an important aspect of management and helps in decision making. To study the feasibility of any system, to evaluate it or to choose one system out of several alternatives the decision making authorities have to make a Cost-Benefit Analysis. In this process, the total cost involved in terms of equipment’s, materials and manpower have to be taken into account including the value of all the benefits i.e. expenditure in terms of money, efforts and time involved have to be calculated. If the value of benefits is more as compared to the cost involved, the system is suitable and if the results are reverse to this, the system is a misfit. It is, therefore essential to use cost-benefit analysis in the libraries instead of blindly following other techniques.

Due to the exponential growth of knowledge and information, libraries are trying their best to acquire all the documents available worldwide. But lack of funds leads the librarians to a situation in which he/she has to take decisions judiciously as to which documents should be purchased and which not to be purchased. It is the responsibility of the librarian to convince the higher authorities and prove the value of the library’s collection and services. For this purpose the cost-benefit analysis method is appropriate. In this scenario to prove the economic value of the library, the librarian’s responsibility increases. But with the help of various types of CBA study librarians can prove the worth of the library collections and services.

The periodicals are not only the chief medium for disseminating current information but also serve as an important part of a library collection. These are helpful in fulfilling both the objectives of teaching and research within an organization. Periodicals such as Journals are very expensive to subscribe therefore librarians must take decisions judiciously as to which journals to subscribe and which not to. University and Research libraries usually spend more than 70 percent of their total budgets on the subscription of periodicals only, Periodicals, a source of current information have become indispensable these days because the results of research being done in different parts of the world are communicated through them (Ravat & Kumar, 2002).


  • Mittal, R.L. (1963, June). Acquisition of serials in Indian university libraries. Indian Librarian, 18, 25.
  • Ravat, P.P. & Kumar, T. (2002). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Library and Information Technology (Vol. II). New Delhi: Crest Publishing House.


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