General

Managing the Operating Systems of University Library

For centuries the societies in their various stages of development have prospered on the basis of information and knowledge. Though the growth of new knowledge has been slow, incidental and sporadic in the beginning but in later years, information has reckoned as a driving force for all human developments. It is increasingly realized and recognized that information and knowledge and their application for transformation of non-resources into value-added economic resources are the real driving power for human material progress. This assessment has resulted in the creation of institutions exclusively for Research and Development (R&D) activities. The output of the Research and Development activities has been a generation of new information and knowledge. Library management is the processes of collecting this new information and knowledge and also coordinating total resources of an organization towards the accomplishment of desired goals of that organization through the execution of a group of inter-related functions such as planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling.

A number of issues are at play. First, there is the explosion in the quantity of desirable published material and secondly rapid escalation of unit prices of these items. These jeopardize the traditional research mission of the university library of creating and maintaining large self-sufficient collections for their users. The third is the rapid emergence and development of electronic information technologies which make it possible to envision radically more efficient ways of organizing and managing collections but which present a big challenge of adaptation. In this age of knowledge explosion, no one is able to keep pace with its ever growing literature. This calls for an effective means of information dissemination. And it has been observed that the university library has become just one among the several sources of information available to the academic community. A good library is an effective way of disseminating knowledge and information, which has become a raw material in the

In this age of knowledge explosion, no one is able to keep pace with its ever growing literature. This calls for an effective means of information dissemination. And it has been observed that the university library has become just one among the several sources of information available to the academic community. A good library is an effective way of disseminating knowledge and information, which has become a raw material in the post-industrial society.

One of the principal goals of a library, with all its limitations, is to acquire the documents, which will be most beneficial to the community it serves.

One of the most significant effects of this unprecedented spurt in human knowledge has been in the realm of information science. The system of storage and retrieval of information in the process of scientific communication has now become more complex than ever before. Not only the exponential growth of literature, but also the interdisciplinary nature of research and the tendency towards specialization have posed many problems both to the information seekers and to the librarians. The fact that the ultimate goal of the university library is to support learning, teaching and research in the university has many implications. In the first place the library collection ought to support every curriculum and research activity going on in the university and also include a good representation of major subjects that are not in the curriculum. Secondly, the collection must be organized in a manner that facilitates easy access to their contents and the access privileges must be as generous as possible. Thirdly, it is important that patrons be informed about library resources and services available and be given skills of using these resources. Fourthly the library building should be designed to facilitate the anticipated functions and finally, a competent staff is required to give direction and vitality to the service endeavour. This underlines the fact that the development of library and information services in university education is a multifaceted and complex process that involves strategic planning, identification and acquisition of information, the management of information materials, the design and implementation of automated systems, building of efficient staff teams and the overall management of economic and sustainable library and information services.

The fact that the ultimate goal of the university library is to support learning, teaching and research in the university has many implications. In the first place the library collection ought to support every curriculum and research activity going on in the university and also include a good representation of major subjects that are not in the curriculum. Secondly, the collection must be organized in a manner that facilitates easy access to their contents and the access privileges must be as generous as possible. Thirdly, it is important that patrons be informed about library resources and services available and be given skills of using these resources. Fourthly the library building should be designed to facilitate the anticipated functions and finally, a competent staff is required to give direction and vitality to the service endeavour. This underlines the fact that the development of library and information services in university education is a multifaceted and complex process that involves strategic planning, identification and acquisition of information, the management of information materials, the design and implementation of automated systems, building of efficient staff teams and the overall management of economic and sustainable library and information services. Today information services are operating in new environments that impact on the

Today information services are operating in new environments that impact on the  consumers of information. A number of forces of change have been seen to influence the management of information services at the present and are likely to be felt even more in the future. These factors include:

i. Both speed and extent of change which will require information services organizations to change and adapt quickly,

ii. The increasing trend towards intelligent organizations that utilize information and its supporting technologies for competitive advantage,

iii. An overriding demand for quality information services in terms of service, timeliness and economy,

iv. Increasing customer focus that calls for tailoring of information services to meet clearly defined and individual customer needs, and

v. Increasing electronic access through networks hence the need for librarians to have appropriate skills to handle and make available information electronically.

These challenges require new leadership skills and competencies so as to ensure that the information needs of the organization or community are met in the new information environment.


1. Resources and Provision

To meet the requirements of good operating system of university library, a good library service needs sufficient resources:

i. Location and accessibility: Libraries should be conveniently located near user communities and transport links in order to be accessible. Opportunities for sharing facilities with other services should be explored. Opening hours should suit user needs and lifestyles. Library services should be available beyond the walls of the library, both online and via  home delivery to vulnerable individuals.

ii. Materials and resources: Library buildings, equipment and ICT facilities should be well designed and kept up-to-date. Library resources in all media (print, audio-visual, online) should be contemporary, provide a wide range of information, ideas and works of creative imagination, and be sufficient in quantity to meet the needs of library users. This includes those who borrow materials, use them in the library or receive them on their desktop.

iii. Staffing and activities: Staff should be helpful, knowledgeable, welcoming and well-trained. They should be involved in a workforce development programme. Staff in front line customer service roles should be supported by specialists in service planning and promotion, leadership and management, and those areas of service delivery requiring specialist skills and expertise.

2. Service Planning and Continuous Improvement is Essential

University library services need to be continually refreshed and improved to respond to the adapting needs of local communities, and to the changing opportunities for service development and delivery. This requires:

  • A strategic approach to service planning across the area for which the concerned section is responsible, aligned and contributing to the broader policy objectives of the university.
  • A focus on efficiency and effectiveness through innovation, partnership working, shared services and assessment of different models of service delivery.
  • A process by which service performance is monitored and assessed against key indicators of service delivery and outcomes; with the results of performance assessment made public.
  • Evidence that the concern section has received and acknowledged professional advice and judgment in these processes of service planning, community consultation, and performance assessment. Here are ten questions to ask to find out. Does your library service:

1. Have a library strategy which meets the needs of the users?
2. Add value for users?
3. Reach out to the “hard to reach” members of your community who are unable or
unwilling to visit the library?
4. Provide what users expect in terms of location, accessibility, materials, resources, staffing and activities?
5. Contribute to the key policy objectives of your university?
6. Make best use of the resources it receives?
7. Comply with library and other relevant legislation?
8. Provide professional advice and guidance on library matters to your university?
9. Have a clear service development plan?
10. Monitor, benchmark and assess its performance, and publish the results?

 

3. Financial Planning and Economic Analysis

The library represents one of the largest cumulative capital investments on any campus and therefore it requires ongoing annual investment for it to retain its value and achieve its goals. Financial planning involves the process of identifying, costing and allocating revenue to the resources and activities that allow the objectives of the information service and its parent organization to be achieved. At the macro level economic analysis can be achieved through the budget process while at the micro level, economic analysis can be used to determine the optimum use of staff and resources in order to achieve cost effectiveness.All information service activities are subject to expenditure and revenues and must be accounted for in the budget and therefore for

All information service activities are subject to expenditure and revenues and must be accounted for in the budget and therefore for smooth operation of any productive institution, the budget is indispensable. It is a definite financial plan, a forecast of the means of putting the plan into effect, a current guide or a cost summary of operations and a basis for the formulation of future policy. In discussing budgetary requirements, we can distinguish entities such as capital expenditure and operating budget. Capital expenditure includes allocation for fixed assets such as new buildings, renovation, and installation of automated systems. It also includes budgetary provisions for maintenance, replacement, repair, and renovation and for investment in new and improved means of information access and delivery. On the other hand operational budget includes those funds required to sustain all operations such as salaries, purchase of information materials, and maintenance and running of automated systems. The librarian, who is responsible for the preparation of the library budget, must understand the budget process within the parent organization so as to succeed in budget arguments. The librarian is concerned with establishing and maintaining satisfactory relations with officials responsible for academic, financial and business affairs, the sources of library funds, preparation and administration of the budget and with business procedures in general. The governing authority of the university is responsible for providing adequate library funds which may come from the government, the university, grants from agencies other than the government, gifts endowments and student fees. The government funds are rarely allocated directly to the library but are usually awarded in the university budget. At the same time funds may be given in the form of lump sum for the whole university or highly detailed schedules setting forth precisely how much is allocated for each purpose. The funds are usually awarded for a definite period such as the academic or fiscal year. University funds are usually the largest single source of income for the library and allocations may be directly transferred to the library or directly to academic or research units. Direct allocation of library funds to the latter is not conducive to centralization or co-ordination of library activities. In ordinary circumstances budgeted university or government funds must be spent within the budget period and unused funds reverted to budget source. Endowment and gifts may be general and unrestricted in which case current income from them may be used for a variety of purposes including library development. These may come from a variety of sources outside the university or the government such as private foundations, individuals and international agencies.

University funds are usually the largest single source of income for the library and allocations may be directly transferred to the library or directly to academic or research units. Direct allocation of library funds to the latter is not conducive to centralization or co-ordination of library activities. In ordinary circumstances budgeted university or government funds must be spent within the budget period and unused funds reverted to budget source. Endowment and gifts may be general and unrestricted in which case current income from them may be used for a variety of purposes including library development. These may come from a variety of sources outside the university or the government such as private foundations, individuals and international agencies.

Depending on the organization and control of the university and the sources of its income, the university librarian may have to deal with government officials, university governing authorities, heads of faculties, school and university business officials. In a state-controlled university the librarian does not directly deal with the government but may nevertheless be required to provide supporting data to government budget officials, auditors, inspectors and other government officials. Within the university, the librarian is expected to be in good relationship with one or more officials depending on whether budgeting is centralized or decentralized. In the first case he may present his budget directly to the director or his designed representative for library affairs. After the budget is determined, the librarian will be required to deal with the business office in regard to purchasing and related procedures. One also has to deal with deans, directors and heads of departments in regard to the selection of materials for acquisition. It has been suggested that the library must be responsible for its internal allocation and control of the approved budget. As long as there is a provision for appropriate consultation and transactions are carried out in accordance with the accounting practices of the university this autonomy will make it possible for the library to operate without undue constraint.

4. Library Standards and Legislation

Standards are important in helping the library and university administration in determining and evaluating as well as optimizing performance of the library in terms of the mission of the university. The key role of the university library is to provide information service in support of teaching, research and public service of the university. The achievement of this mission requires the development of standards to address the ways, in which goals are to be developed and measured, needed resources estimated and success in goals evaluated. They set forth the process by which expectations may be established and indicate which topics are to be addressed in evaluation of the university library performance.

There exist various standards world over for objectives, funding, administration, space requirements, equipment, type and quantity of information materials as well as service provision in university libraries. For example literature on German librarianship is abound with explicit and detailed recommendations and guidelines for standards as well as legislation relating to financial, staffing and accommodation requirements and for provision of equipment and nature and size of stockholdings to various documents expressing expert opinion as well as guidelines for library development which although are not legally binding have been useful in planning and managing libraries. Therefore it should be noted that the relevance of legislation and setting of standards in the area of library and information services should be not underestimated. In order to fulfill their objectives, libraries require rules and regulations. These consist of regulations governing issues such as purchase, registration and use, and preservation as well as well-laid down rules to govern the everyday functioning of the library. 1.4.5. Identifying User Needs

5. Identifying User Needs

Identification of distinct user groups also referred to as market segmentation involves the specification of the different user categories that are served by the library. In the case of a university library these include faculty staff and students in different subject areas, as well as researchers and graduate students. The key question is what information each group needs. Through marketing research strategies, which include informal and formal surveys, focus groups and internal library statistic, data is collected on the users’ awareness and attitude to the library service, customer satisfaction levels, and the major strengths and weaknesses of the library in terms of staff, resources, programmes and facilities. This marks departure from promotion of existing service towards a package of services designed to meet the various target groups in the university such as academics, researchers, and undergraduate as well as postgraduate students. Studying the organization and users helps create appropriate library services and programmes as well as guide the planning of the right marketing strategy.

There are various approaches to collecting information on these issues such as image analysis, SWOT analysis and customer satisfaction studies. Image analysis helps to determine the library’s image to the university authorities and various categories of users by measuring the perceptions held by particular user groups and the way they perceive the services offered. The different categories of users are surveyed in order to determine their attitudes, awareness, interests and desires in terms of the services provided. SWOT analysis and customer satisfaction studies provide evidence whether academic staff and students are satisfied by the current services and can be used to evaluate the services of the library as a whole or individual services or components of those services. Both methods are useful in the university library setting in revealing the quality of services and the users’ perception of the whole or individual services offered by the library service such as opening hours, quality of collections, lending procedures, study facilities, reference services, and information literacy and can be a good basis for restructuring operations, human resource planning and to arguing for maintaining or increasing existing levels of funding depending on whether the results are positive or negative. 1.4.6. The Essence Performance Assessment Performance assessment is a strategy for improving employee performance, productivity and effectiveness. It emphasizes the integration of organizational objectives with individual goals, the ongoing monitoring of performance, and training and development. The key activities in the performance management cycle are performance planning, performance coaching and performance review. Performance planning involves defining job responsibilities and setting performance expectations, goals or objectives at the beginning of the review period. Performance coaching occurs throughout the cycle and involves

6. The Essence Performance Assessment:

Performance assessment is a strategy for improving employee performance, productivity and effectiveness. It emphasizes the integration of organizational objectives with individual goals, the ongoing monitoring of performance, and training and development. The key activities in the performance management cycle are performance planning, performance coaching and performance review. Performance planning involves defining job responsibilities and setting performance expectations, goals or objectives at the beginning of the review period. Performance coaching occurs throughout the cycle and involves monitoring performance, providing feedback, coaching and developing. Performance review is the formal evaluation stage at the end of the review period. It is based on the performance appraisal and can lead to revisions to the performance plans. It can also lead to performance ratings.

Libraries use the performance management processes to communicate and reinforce overall strategy, such as a focus on customer service. The performance planning process ensures this occurs by relating employees’ accountabilities and objectives directly to organizational strategies and goals.

Performance measurement and evaluation are important management activities in that they facilitate assessment of how the information service is performing and provide a means of accountability to the stakeholders. This has been defined as “the process by which the information service determines whether it is on course towards the achievement of the parent organizations’ objectives and therefore at the center is the issue of quality of service which includes reliability, competence, responsiveness, understanding, security, access, and credibility.

According to Abbott (1994), a number of reasons can be cited as making performance measurement in library and information services very critical:

i. To encourage greater efficiency in the library and information services,ii. To justify the resources they consume and demonstrate that the benefits derived are worth the expenditure, and iii. As a means for creating quality management and quality assurance in that it is one of the tools of defining what quality has been achieved and defines how to operate in order to ensure a given quality of product or service. Bryson has come up with a number of sets of indicators for measuring performance: outputs and outcomes, and quality and value. Outputs refer basically to what the information service is able to accomplish in a specified amount of time and with

ii. To justify the resources they consume and demonstrate that the benefits derived are worth the expenditure, and

iii. As a means for creating quality management and quality assurance in that it is one of the tools of defining what quality has been achieved and defines how to operate in order to ensure a given quality of product or service. Bryson has come up with a number of sets of indicators for measuring performance: outputs and outcomes, and quality and value. Outputs refer basically to what the information service is able to accomplish in a specified amount of time and with

Bryson has come up with a number of sets of indicators for measuring performance: outputs and outcomes, and quality and value. Outputs refer basically to what the information service is able to accomplish in a specified amount of time and with particular amount of resources. Therefore outputs provide a measure of cost-effectiveness and can be compared with inputs to measure efficiency and with the parent organization objectives to measure effectiveness. On the other hand outcomes are the intended consequences of the information service activities as indicated by changes in circumstances and behavior or needs that are satisfied? Therefore a customer’s ability to utilize the services offered by the information services to create further output is an outcome measure of its performance. All these can be assessed in four separate value measures. In the first place it’s the value of the service to the parent organization in achieving its objectives and its level of competitiveness. Secondly we have to consider the perceived social value of the information service in improving the quality of life of individuals. The third factor is the perceived role of the service in providing information as a resource or commodity in creating or adding value to information products and services. Finally, an important issue is the perceived economic value of information to different people. The quality of the service may be recognized by customers or stakeholders or service management but it is often difficult to apply concrete measures that can be directly attributed to the information service.

Quality and value as measures of performance are problematic in that many of the benefits of information are intangible and therefore difficult to prove in quantitative and qualitative terms. However, observes that the ultimate criterion for assessing the quality of a service is its capability for meeting the user (client) needs it is intending to serve, and that the value of a service must ultimately be judged in terms of the beneficial effects accruing from its use as viewed by those who sustain the costs. If the service provides the necessary and timely information in an efficient manner that enables the parent organization achieve its objectives, it will be perceived as being valuable by the authorities and will be supported. This support is reflected in the level of funding that the information service receives. Burk and Horton have suggested five ways in which the performance and value of information may be measured. They consider as important, first the quality of the information itself: accuracy, comprehensiveness, credibility and currency. Second is the quality of the information holdings in terms of accessibility, adaptability, ease of use and format. Third is the impact upon productivity such as greater returns, improvement in decision-making, more efficient operations and on organizational effectiveness, increased customer satisfaction, meeting goals and objectives. Even more important is the effectiveness in supporting the activity it was designed to support and the strategic importance of the information resource (or service) to the activities of the parent organization. The provision of information to the information seekers depends on the performance of academic libraries. It could be noted that academic institution is a place where young people grow physically, intellectually and in doing so they gain self knowledge. The library resources fill the mind with images and ideas. Hence imagination grows and curiosity is aroused. Thus an academic library is one of the most powerful stimulants to draw out intense power of intellectual of the youth.

The provision of information to the information seekers depends on the performance of academic libraries. It could be noted that academic institution is a place where young people grow physically, intellectually and in doing so they gain self knowledge. The library resources fill the mind with images and ideas. Hence imagination grows and curiosity is aroused. Thus an academic library is one of the most powerful stimulants to draw out intense power of intellectual of the youth.

The analysis of performance evaluation of academic libraries is an important aspect. The library performs various services and provides facilities to the library users. They are:

The library performs various services and provides facilities to the library users. They are:

1. To support the teaching and research programmes.

2. To develop its collection by procuring necessary reading materials to meet the present and future needs of its users.

3. To organize its collection operation and services, so as to provide the reading materials and information needs of its users in anticipation and on demand. Networking and resources sharing among libraries should be practiced by each institution towards optimum utilization of all resources.

4. To introduce, if necessary, technological innovations like computerization of library activities, online information retrieval, CD-ROM and internet search etc.

5. To provide services like reprography, inter -library loans, translation service and documentation service to help the users.

6. To promote library user education related to technological innovations, so that the academic librarian will no longer remain a mere craftsman but will serve as an educationalist through technological mean.

7. To get adequate finance, staff, storage and other facilities for achieving the above goals.

8. To maximize the efficiency of services with reference to input expenditure so as to make library service cost effective. The factors essential for the successful operation of the library are:

There is a need for adequate resource for instruction, research and extension. A team of competent library staff could execute the library service. The proper collection and organization of materials in the library for use is a key feature of library service. Also there is a need for adequate space and equipment for placing the reading materials in various sections in the library. The integration of the library with administrative and educative policies helps to achieve the goal of rendering service to the library users. The effective collection and dissemination of information depend on integration of the library with the community as well as with regional, national and international library resources. Adequate financial support is essential to procure and supply the literature to the library users. Further, there is a need of workable policy of the library government. Thus it is realized that the library is an integral part of an institution of higher learning and it plays a significant role in the academic life.The library is considered not only as the nerve of the educational institution, but also the heart, which circulates through energy to the workers in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences,

The library is considered not only as the nerve of the educational institution, but also the heart, which circulates through energy to the workers in the fields of Humanities, Social Sciences, Engineering and Technology. A library plays a pivotal role in serving a large number of scholars. It is also realized that only through the efficient functioning of the library, the academic programmes of the university can be implemented successfully.

This in turn: (i) the availability of relevant collection, (ii) adequate number of efficient staff members and its services to the users (iii) adequate infrastructural facilities. This study is related to the analysis of the above with references to the University Libraries in Tamil Nadu state. In recent years, library management is facing many problems. Particularly, it has been very much pressurized by both the internal and external factors. The internal factors imply the demand aspect. For instance, the demands made in the libraries have been increasing rapidly in the recent years. This is due to the introduction of new research programmes, socially relevant projects, job-oriented courses and the expansion of research and development in almost all subjects’ fields. The external factors are related to the financial aspect. The academic libraries are experiencing several financial problems which may be ascribed to the extra ordinary cost of the library materials, increased wages and salaries of the staff and ever increasing cost of building, furniture and equipment.The financial problems of the libraries are made still more severe due to the ever increasing volume of publications, development of new library services,

The financial problems of the libraries are made still more severe due to the ever increasing volume of publications, development of new library services, extension of existing library services, phenomenal increasing of users’ population, and extension of instructional programmes and introduction of new programmes.

These factors have contributed to the magnitude of financial crisis in library management. As a result, the cost of library management has increased rapidly. The effectiveness of library services can be judged through performance evaluation. The idea of accessing the performance of library management has been the central focus of library management. It could be noted that in recent years, the operation of academic libraries has become highly a complex process. This is due to increasing library functions as already discussed in the above.

Performance evaluation explains, whether a library has adequate capacity to meet the demands of the users. This almost analyses the working status of the academic libraries in respect of rendering effective services to the users. Hence one can say that performance evaluation in its spirit is accessing the condition of library services and recommending improvements on the basis of identification of defects and problems in the existing system of functioning.

Evaluation is meant as the assessment of effectiveness of library services. It aims at comparing the current status of against some standard expectations. Evaluation is classified into two parts. They are (i) the collection of information or evidence about library’s performance and comparison of collected information with some standard criteria. It means whether a library has adequate level of information source to cater to the needs of the readers. The evaluation of library services can be done through various criteria so as to render better service to the student community that takes major attention in the present study.

Performance can be accessed from various angles. Firstly, the resource of the library which means the extent to which a library management can mobilize resources and ways and means of utilizing the resources in respect of collection of library materials. Secondly, it denotes the quality service rendered to the information seekers. It explains about provision of adequate and systematic information according to the requirement of the readers. Thirdly, it explains the extent to which the library users feel satisfaction over the services provided by the library management.

The analysis of impact of library services on the readers is an important aspect of present study. The provision of an enquiry services represents one’s output from an academic library. It could be noted that enquiry service is very essential for a particular user, who comes for a reference enquiry needs its help to obtain the information he wants. Hence this aspect could be considered in the present study.

The efficiency of library services occupies the major attention in the present study. Efficiency is considered as the relationship between the outputs of the library services and the resources required to provide them. It means the ratio between input and output. The larger the collection of research materials, and larger should be the services rendered to the academic community. Hence there is a need to examine the same for the purpose of the present study.

The cost-effectiveness analysis is an essential aspect of library management. It explains the method of comparing the cost of library services with its impact on use. The prime purpose of the cost-effectiveness analysis is to direct the allocation of resources in a library towards the maximum benefit. This analysis deals with the relationship between the cost incurred on the different units of the library services and the level of performance derived from them. It is a method used to assess the library system with a view to improve their cost or by achieving the objectives more fully at the same cost. The cost-benefit analysis is an important tool to evaluate the performance of academic libraries. It helps to take decisions in respects of library collection, resource utilization and services rendered. In general, costs and benefits should be described in terms of unfavourable and favourable results by the comparison of alternative component. However, costs and benefits are not measured as direct consequences, but rather in terms of comparison of resources, services and so on.


  • Original Reference Article: Tonring, R. A. (2009, September 16). Managing the operating systems of university libraries in Tamilnadu A study. Alagappa University.

Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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