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THE U. S. Office of Education undertook this study at the re
1 quest of State supervisors of school libraries for data to aid school administrators and librarians in determining the cost of operating libraries.
The work on this study of unit costs in high-school libraries was made possible by the American Library Association Committee on Fellowships and Scholarships which assigned one of its 1940–41 fellows to the Library Service Division of the U. S. Office of Education.
The findings of this exploratory study have been gathered from a limited sampling of a group of selected high-school libraries. It is hoped that they will be of some value in (1) establishing quantitative costs of school library operation and (2) indicating a method which may be used as a basis for future studies.
Appreciation is expressed to the participating schools for keeping time records and other statistical data; to the specialists in librarianship who acted as consultants; to the two schools which made a preliminary trial of the time sheets; and to Walter Crosby Eells for making available the data on the Cooperative Study of Secondary School Standards, which served as a basis for selecting the schools.
The planning and execution of this study were done under the supervision of Nora Beust, Specialist in School Libraries, and Ralph M. Dunbar, Chief of the Library Service Division.
BESS GOODYKOONTZ, Assistant U.S. Commissioner of Education.
Unit Costs in a Selected Group of
and fiscal officials who administer public funds are asking the question about the cost of school library operation shows the urgent need for a unit cost study in the field of school libraries. In her book, The Library in the School, Lucile Fargo says:
Accurate data are hard to find, even when they exist. We know how much certain pieces of equipment cost; usable estimates on the cost of books are available; we have some data on salaries. But few public school systems . . . have gone to the trouble to segregate and to allocate on an accurate cost accounting basis their expenditures for particular departments or services. . . It is no doubt because of the bookkeeping involved that so few statistical data are available to the student of school library finance . . . or the board of education which very
naturally asks, “How much is school library service going to cost us?” 1 Historical Background
The need for inaugurating cost accounting methods in library administration has been recognized by leaders in the field for many years. The earliest efforts in this line were almost entirely in the field of cataloging. Sporadic attempts, beginning in 1877 and continuing to the present day, have been made to establish the cost of cataloging a book.
In 1877 Charles A. Cutter 2 estimated the cost of cataloging a book at 50 cents per volume. Whitney 3 in 1885 made another estimate based on a study made in the Boston Public Library of 3534 cents per volume. William Warner Bishop,+ discussing the cost of cataloging in 1905, gave a résumé of the subject and quoted estimates which ranged from 5 to 60 cents per volume. It will be noted that these were all estimates. No attempt was made to analyze the work and to study the time element involved.
1 Fargo, Lucile F. The library in the school. 3d. ed. Chicago, American Library Association, 1939. p. 491–92.
2 Cutter, Charles A. Dr. Hagen's letter on cataloging. Library journal, 1: 216–20 Feb. 28, 1877.
: Whitney, James L. On the cost of catalogues. Library journal, 10 : 214–16, September-October 1885.
+ Bishop, William Warner. Some considerations on the cost of cataloging. Library journal, 30 : 10-14, January 1905.