Time and Motion Studies in Libraries
RICHARD H. LOGSDON
THEESSENTIAL elements of time and motion study
and flow chart analysis are commonplace, and it is doubtful if any reader of this journal has failed to make use of them both in his work and in everyday living. In fact, librarians before and since Melvil Dewey have devoted a fair share of time, effort, and pages of literature to finding and reporting more effective ways of getting work done. The literature of library architecture, to cite one example, is concerned basically with promoting building plans which save the time of staffs in receiving, cataloging, and preparing books for the shelves, and of both staffs and readers in the use of those books.
Formal motion and time study, however, goes somewhat beyond the concept of work simplification and streamlining of processes. One author lists four distinct parts to the process, namely, (1)finding the most economical way of doing the job, (2) standardizing the methods, materials, and equipment, (3) determining accurately the time re- quired by a qualified person working at a normal pace to do the task, and (4) assisting in training the worker in the new method. The differ- ent parts may be considered separately, but must all be taken into account in utilizing this form of management control and improvement of performance. While library literature contains many examples of cost studies and reports of time devoted to different phases of the library operation, there has been almost no application of time and motion study technique in the formal sense.
Joseph L. Wheeler credits Emma V. Baldwin and W. E. Marcus
with the first industrial motion study process chart to appear in library literature. Their study, published in 1941, was designed to establish measuring rods for the evaluation of library service. Deductions and conclusions are based on data from thirty-seven public libraries, re- porting the experience of 1,560 individuals in the daily performance of work for a four-month period. It is a time study in the sense that Mr. Logsdon is Director of Libraries, Columbia University. RICHARD H. LOGSDON the apportionment of staff time to the major functions of library serv- ice is presented.
The process chart itself, prepared by Martha Gilbreth, shows the typical route of nonfiction books through the cataloging department of the MontcIair Public Library. Lillian M. Gilbreth, management engineer, was a consultant for the study. The Gilbreths, known widely in recent years through the best seller, Cheaper by the Dozen, developed motion study as it is known and applied today.4 The first formal motion and time study of a library routine reported in the literature followed shortly in 1943, and was conducted by D. D. Battles, Howard Davis, and William harm^.^ This was carried out at the Bradley Polytechnic Institute under the direction of Marvin E. Mundel, with the assistance of Arthur M. McAnally, then librarian at the institute. It concentrated on one part of the circulation routine- loaning a book to a patron. Techniques included micromotion analy- sis with motion pictures, a microchronometer, motions broken down into therbligs (Gilbreth spelled backwards ),and a simo chart (simul- taneous motion chart). The study showed the possibilities of reduc- ing the time required in the process by at least 35 per cent through such changes as (1) simplification of card files; (2) rearrangement of books to place heavily used groups near the loan desk; (3) rearrangement of date-due slip and pocket; (4) rounding of corners of book cards; and (5) redesign of date stamp. Reduction of fatigue was stressed as one of the main objectives of motion and time study. Atten- tion was given also to lighting, temperature, and control of ventilation as factors affecting work performance.
Six years later Jewel C. Hardkopf reported the results of applying methods and motion techniques to the...
References: 1. Barnes, R. M.: Motion and Time Study. 3d ed. New York, J. Wiley, 1949,
3. Baldwin, Emma V., and Marcus, W. E.: Libmry Costs and Budgets. New
York, Bowker, 1941, pp
bia University School of Library Service, 1949.
8. Reichmann, Felix: Costs of Cataloging. Libmry Trends, 2:290-317, Oct.
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19. Pierce, W. O 'D.: Work Measurement in Public Libraries. (Mimeographed)
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