Watch our on-demand webinar, The Versatility of Library User Surveys: Why Libraries Need Them and How We Can Help, to learn more.
Increase Funding at your institution by leveraging library usage to negotiate a higher F&A cost recovery rate
Higher education revenue sources are limited, so when a research university is working on negotiating an F&A cost recovery rate they often look for as many ways as possible to increase their reimbursement. The United States government allows educational institutions to seek reimbursement for library expenses related to funded research via the university’s F&A cost rate using OMB Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards 2 CFR Part 200 (“Uniform Guidance”), Appendix III – Indirect (F&A) Costs Identification and Assignment and Rate Determination for Institutions of Higher Education.
In other words, researchers use the library and its resources, and the university can claim more reimbursements based on how much the library is used for funded research.
A proven methodology
Attain Partners is the only consulting firm with a library cost study methodology approved by the federal government that has been used and accepted for almost 40 years. The standard full-time equivalent (FTE) approach only accounts for the salaries of full-time employees without considering all of the services, resources, and space that libraries contribute to funded research projects. Our methodology incorporates library user surveys over the course of a year to determine the purpose of use for all of the library’s resources.
Through this approach, we can assign a specific percentage of use to funded research projects for all library materials, services, and space. We are then able to designate not only salaries and benefits but also physical space, collection materials, and online resources for funded research reimbursements. Attain Partners’ approach has been used successfully as part of F&A rate negotiations and has consistently helped raise universities’ rates at an average of 1.2 points, which equals approximately $1.2 million/year on a $100 million base. To read more about the methodology behind the library cost studies, check out this blog post.
Will a library cost study benefit your university?
Take a look at your past F&A rate and pay special attention to the library’s points. The library should be contributing at least one full point to the F&A rate. The standard FTE approach typically means the university is chasing down financial information and making educated guesses about which employees can be counted. Through a library cost study, Attain Partners pinpoints exact and specific salaries, space, and resources that are all eligible for reimbursement.
Client success stories
In the table below, we are highlighting seven different universities Attain Partners has worked with to compare their FTE Allocation to the Library Study Allocation. As you can see, the Library Study Allocation yields a higher point contribution (86% average increase) to the F&A rate.
Assessing library type to determine cost study eligibility
Another point to consider is what kind of libraries your university has on campus. For example, a law library is highly instructional and will not benefit from a library cost study; however, science and medical libraries often lend themselves to a high use of materials for sponsored research that will absolutely benefit from the study. Libraries typically surveyed include the main campus library, science department libraries, medical/veterinary libraries, music libraries, business libraries, and any other department that specifically has a funded research grant.
If you have questions about whether sponsored research is happening in the library, talk to the librarians! They know their patrons, they know the resources being used, and they will tell you how the libraries are being used for sponsored research. Many of them likely have relationships with the researchers on campus and can help determine if the use is enough to help the F&A rate. For example, librarians will know if their researchers are coming into the physical space or using mainly online resources.
The power of data
An additional benefit for the libraries is they will receive all survey data collected throughout the study. This data can serve as a baseline to learn how patrons are using their space, which is helpful when creating a strategic plan or making future financial or program decisions. As the library staff will be needed to run the surveys for the study, it is essential to ensure they are on board with the process and understand the benefits to both the university and the library.
Attain Partners – Library Experts
Attain Partners is the only consulting firm that offers this federally approved methodology for library cost studies, and we look forward to working with you to increase your F&A rate! Contact our team today to find out more about how our consultants will work with your library to conduct a library cost study.
Learn more about our library planning and strategy services here.
About the Author
Ms. Blake Norby is a Library Consultant for the Research Enterprise Services practice of Attain Partners. During her time with Attain Partners, Ms. Norby has been involved in multiple library consulting projects with higher education institutions. She has participated in various stages of Facilities & Administrative Expense (F&A) strategic planning, proposal preparation and submission, and space functional usage studies with a focus on library spaces. Ms. Norby brings over 13 years’ experience working in libraries with extensive knowledge of using patron data to create inclusive, accessible library spaces and programs. She is currently a member of the American Evaluation Association (AEA), the American Library Association (ALA) including the Public Library Association, and several additional roundtables and special interest groups.