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New public management and libraries: a success story or just an excuse for cost reduction

Petra Düren (Department of Information, University of Applied Sciences Hamburg , Hamburg, Germany)
Ane Landøy ( University of Bergen Library , Bergen, Norway)
Jarmo Saarti ( University of Eastern Finland , Kuopio, Finland)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 14 November 2017




From the 1980s – in some parts of Europe from the 1990s – onward, the new public management (NPM) has been emerging in public organizations including libraries. Since then, there has been a need to develop strategies, to plan budgets and to implement cost and activity accounting as well as benchmarking to compare the library’s processes, costs and activities with those of other libraries. One basic idea of the NPM was to make a transition from focusing on how institutions function to product orientation, to improve the quality of library services, to develop output orientation and to act market and consumer oriented. There also was a need to change from bureaucratic and hierarchically acting organizations to a more modern flexible and lean form of management. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


The aim of this paper is in the first part to describe the basic ideas of NPM, their realization in libraries and how libraries have to handle constantly reduced budgets and the risk of being closed down (especially in the “age of austerity”); the second part will show how the University of Eastern Finland (UEF) Library has managed to improve its services with the NPM approach.


Many libraries are faced with serious financial cutbacks on the one hand and with emergent needs to (re)invest in neglected public infrastructure on the other hand. At the same time, they have to develop modern digital library services. Thus there is a need for efficiency, which is put in action via major budget cutbacks. Also many libraries have been closed down since the implementation of NPM ideas.


In this paper, the NPM tools used in the restructuring of the UEF are described and the outcome of this modern management is shown.



Düren, P., Landøy, A. and Saarti, J. (2017), "New public management and libraries: a success story or just an excuse for cost reduction", Library Management, Vol. 38 No. 8/9, pp. 477-487.



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