How Library Cost Studies Can Increase F&A Rates for Colleges and Universities
Attain Partners’ Library Cost Study is important to a university because library costs are a component of the Facilities and Administrative (F&A) rate negotiated with the federal government for sponsored research. As the university seeks to optimize its F&A cost recovery from sponsored grants and contracts, the Cost Study is an important part of the process.
For the past 40 years, Library Cost Studies have been conducted with consistently positive results. The Study is sensitive to unique university environments and the changing nature of libraries; it is rigorous for trusted results and is performed in compliance with the principles contained in the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Uniform Guidance*.
Using the default calculation (a university’s FTE), our clients average 1.4 points for the library contribution in their F&A rate. Following a Library Cost Study, the same clients average 2.6 points—a huge increase! The Library Cost Study has helped raise universities’ F&A rates by an average of 1.2 points, which equals approximately $1.2 million/year on a $100 million base.
In addition to the tremendous value for the university, the Study provides important information for the library. The Study highlights the library’s impact on the university mission and informs library leaders as they make budgetary and programmatic decisions.
Library Cost Studies have been performed over 130 times across more than 40 university libraries.
How Does a Library Cost Study Work?
A Library Cost Study takes place during a university’s F&A rate negotiation base year and, usually, spans an eighteen-month period, with a mandatory 12 months of data collection. The Study relies on a thorough collection of data about the purpose of use for library facilities, analog and digital materials, and in-person and online services. Bespoke in-person and online survey instruments are developed for each institution. The survey methodology utilizes the random moments sampling technique, are completely anonymized, and controls for bias. In-person and web-intercept surveys are deployed for two hours each month for a full calendar year.
To determine the level of expenditures incurred by a library in support of sponsored (funded) research, the Study analyzes library salaries, wages, and benefits, operating expenses, collection and material expenditures, and cross-allocations. Library space use is documented in detail. All expenditures and costs are assigned to library cost centers. The final analysis determines total library expenses by the purpose of use, specifically funded (sponsored) use.
Insights from Each Library Cost Study
A final report summarizes the Study to inform the library component of the university’s F&A rate negotiation. The report shows the allowable F&A library points and the percentage of library use in support of sponsored (funded) research.
In addition, the final report provides valuable information and data for the library including:
- Showcasing the library’s impact and value to the university.
- Providing effective assessment of library services and materials.
- Giving insight into the purpose of library utilization, e.g., sponsored research, instruction, or patient care (when applicable).
- Detailing the colleges, departments, and areas of study utilizing library services and resources.
Attain Partners – F&A and Library Experts
Attain Partners is the only consulting firm that offers a federally approved methodology for a Library Cost Study. Contact our team today to find out more about how our consultants can help increase your F&A rate and work with your library to conduct a Library Cost Study.
Learn more about our Library Planning and Strategy services here.
About the Author
Hilary A. Craiglow leads our team of library strategists to strengthen library systems using proven evaluation and assessment methods. With a 30+ year career in libraries, Hilary brings a deep understanding of college and university systems, and extensive experience leading academic libraries. She is a strategic and visionary administrator, melding rich library traditions with innovative services and assessments. A data and mission-driven leader, she creates organizational transformation through empathy and partnership. Hilary helps library leaders achieve their mission faster, more efficiently, and with greater impact.
*Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards 2 CFR Part 200; Appendix III – Indirect (F&A) Costs Identification and Assignment and Rate Determination for Institutions of Higher Education
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