RLI 278 17
March 2012 research Library issues: a QuarterLy report froM arL, cNi, aNd sparc
The ARL Balanced Scorecard Initiative Meets the ARL 2030
Kathryn Ball, Director, Assessment and Accountability, McMaster University Library
Raynna Bowlby, Consultant to ARL Statistics and Assessment
Margaret Burri, Associate Director, Academic Liaison, Johns Hopkins University Libraries
Vivian Lewis, Acting University Librarian, McMaster University Library
Elizabeth Mengel, Associate Director, Scholarly Resources and Special Collections, Johns Hopkins
University Libraries
RL has a strong commitment to both assessment and strategic planning, fostered over many
years. This commitment extends to the Association’s own planning activities as well as the
programs and services it offers to the ARL membership. This commitment to planning is also
prevalent among ARL member libraries and most are engaged in planning activities, with many using
tools made available by the Association.2
The current ARL Strategic Plan 2010–2012 highlights the importance of planning and assessment.
The goal to “[a]rticulate visions for the 21st-century research library and define elements for describing
their value and contributions in support of research and scholarship”3 led ARL to embark on two major
planning activities: balanced scorecard (BSC) and scenario planning.
Two libraries, McMaster University and Johns Hopkins University, are using the BSC and the ARL
2030 Scenarios in their planning efforts.
Balanced Scorecard
In 2009, the ARL Library Scorecard Pilot was launched to test the use of the balanced scorecard (BSC)
in research libraries. The BSC is a strategic planning and performance management system created
by Harvard Business School colleagues Robert Kaplan and David Norton.4 Martha Kyrillidou, Senior
Director of ARL’s Statistics and Assessment program, engaged the Ascendant Strategy Management
Group to train and facilitate the use of the scorecard. Four libraries—Johns Hopkins University, McMaster
University, University of Virginia, and University of Washington—volunteered to learn about and
implement this planning tool.5 The perspectives shared by these participants have encouraged other
ARL members to undertake this planning methodology. Ten ARL libraries are now participating in a
second cohort for BSC implementation and some ARL libraries have independently utilized the balanced
scorecard technique.6
The balanced scorecard implementations at the four pilot sites have been tremendously successful. As
reported at recent conferences, the tool has given these research libraries a framework for implementing
and managing strategy as well as a vehicle for communicating consistently about strategy within the
organization and externally with other stakeholders. The scorecard, as originally conceived, is a tool for
“As research library leaders confront turbulent times, they sorely need new tools to facilitate thinking about the
future of the institution and to foster dialogue within the community.”1