Cost Accounting and Managerial Accounting for Reducing the Impacts of Financial Crisis in University Libraries: the Case of the Baltic States

  • Kate-Riin Kont Tallinn University
  • Signe Jantson Tallinn University
Keywords: cost accounting, managerial accounting, activity-based costing, time-driven activity-based costing, Baltic States, financial crisis, university libraries


As we move through the financial crisis that hit Europe, especially the Baltic States (including Estonia), which unfortunately has had an impact on university libraries, too, there is likely to be an increased pressure on librarians to maintain or cut costs, while, at the same time, increasing both the range as well as the quality of library and information services. Libraries today are included in the general demand for cost transparency and effective cost management. With the data they have traditionally collected, libraries can assess in detail the cost of their collections. Reliable data on the cost of their services and products is what they need now. The authors of the present paper suggest that university libraries should implement the Time Driven Activity Based Costing (TDABC) method because it is easier culturally to accept by librarians than any other traditional or new cost accounting method – it already considers many aspects that affect employees’ efficiency and performance. University libraries should initially implement the TDABC method as a department- or service-based pilot project to detect the actual factors that would hinder the introduction of the method and the resources it would consume, to find optimal solutions to the problems that have become evident, and only then implement the system in full scale in the organisation as an entirety. In the libraries, where new cost accounting methods have already been implemented, it is easier to focus on the next step – to the managerial accounting, which, in turn, provides more rational operation for an organisation and is beneficial to cope with financial crisis. The best method of managerial accounting for university libraries is to combine international library performance indicators (ISO 11620: 2008. Information and Documentation. Library Performance Indicators) with the results of TDABC.