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Collaborative assessment: North American academic libraries' experiences using the Balanced Scorecard to measure performance and show value

Elizabeth Mengel (The Sheridan Libraries, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA)
Vivian Lewis (Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 20 July 2012



While originally designed for the for‐profit sector, the Balanced Scorecard has been adopted by non‐profit and government organizations, including some libraries. This paper aims to focus on the continued experiences of two prominent North American research libraries, Johns Hopkins University and McMaster University. These two libraries were part of an Association of Research Libraries (ARL) pilot effort that included a total of four institutions, the two represented by the authors, plus the University of Virginia and the University of Washington.


The authors use a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches. The quantitative aspects of the study are informal and theme‐based. When examining commonalities between Scorecards or overlap between Scorecard measures and the ARL statistics program, matches are made based on broad themes regardless of the specific words used in the formulae.


The participating libraries identified ten commonly measured “themes.” These themes are defined as key areas of focus present in three out of the four local sites. Using the standardized four‐perspective Scorecard framework, these themes are as follows: the customer – quality of physical space, customer satisfaction, instruction, document delivery, and collection preservation/discovery; financial health – revenue generation; learning and growth – employee satisfaction and diversity; internal processes – library promotion and assessment of services.


The article explores the question; can libraries improve their arsenal of assessment tools by working alongside each other (as opposed to directly with each other) as they implement local organizational performance measurement instruments?



Mengel, E. and Lewis, V. (2012), "Collaborative assessment: North American academic libraries' experiences using the Balanced Scorecard to measure performance and show value", Library Management, Vol. 33 No. 6/7, pp. 357-364.



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