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Is the balanced scorecard right for academic libraries?

Michele M. Reid (North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA)

The Bottom Line

ISSN: 0888-045X

Article publication date: 23 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to consider the potential utility for higher educational institutions, and in particular libraries, of the balanced scorecard (BSC) performance measurement tool, originally developed by Kaplan and Norton for use in businesses and since adapted for the public and non‐profit sectors.


The relevant literature was reviewed to ascertain key aspects and functionalities of the BSC framework, survey implementations and determine perceptions of the system's effectiveness and weaknesses, and – while the BSC has as yet been put into practice only infrequently in libraries – treat its appropriateness for information service.


The BSC supplements financial accounting with non‐financial leading indicators to link performance drivers and outcome measures in cause and effect relationships that can predict future performance and drive a single organizational strategy. Also intended as a straightforward reporting “dashboard” revealing whether improvements in one area have been at the expense of another, the BSC is considered more effective as an aid in forecasting the overall health of an organization than traditional accounting‐based models. It provides a capacity to monitor obligations to stakeholders and to produce transparent and reliable financial information, and the resulting internal control environment can promote integrity and ethical values.


Academic libraries may find the BSC a useful approach in determining service value, in demonstrating fiscal responsibility, and – through metrics focused on organizational goals and strategy – in validating their role, as knowledge‐based and networked environments, in the delivery of a quality educational product to their customers.



Reid, M.M. (2011), "Is the balanced scorecard right for academic libraries?", The Bottom Line, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 85-95.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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