In response to CLN's discussion starter on INVENTORY (Monday Mailout: February 21, 2022), I wanted to respond with what some may find as a different approach to Inventory.

The goal of an Inventory is to KNOW where every Item in our library is, either 1) on the shelf, 2) checked out, 3) improperly cataloged or 4) missing. Once we know these details, we can deal with our collection appropriately… track down missing Items, fix the "problems," delete Titles we will never see again, etc.

Typically, we print out our "shelf list" (or pull it up on the computer,) check off each Title as we find it on the shelf, cross-check the list with our checked out Items and, finally, deal with the Items left on our list … tedious, time consuming and error prone.

 Instead, use your library computer application to simplify the task. Many of our applications have this feature built in. Our library uses CONCEPT III from Library Concepts. We have been able to complete a 10,000 Item library with six workers before lunch (OK, it was a late lunch:-)


 Here is how we do an Inventory:

We assign workers in pairs to sections of the library so that the whole library is covered. Each team opens the CONCEPT III "Inventory" utility on their computer, tablet or phone. (The web-based application allows multiple teams limited only by the number of workers.)

Starting at the first book on the first shelf in each section:

  1. 'Worker 1' scans the book's bar code (or enter its Accession Number if barcodes are not used.) 'Worker 2' confirms the Title is correct on the screen.
  2. Go to the next book on the shelf.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until the team's assigned section is complete.
  4. When each team has completed its section, look back to see that EVERY Item has been scanned. Did we miss Items in a display? What about Items in repair? Find every Item we can!
  5. Finally, run the Reconciliation Report. It shows Items on the shelf that are still Checked Out (OK, it happens.) and, secondly, a list of Items that are missing … the sad list.

At this point we have a "snapshot" of where every Item is. The Inventory is done! We can start checking In and Out now. We can deal with the "problem Titles" (see below) at our leisure.

Important suggestions:

  1. During the Inventory, do not permit Returns or Check Outs. (Put Returns in a box to be Checked In after the Inventory is complete.)
  2. What if the Title doesn't match or the Title is "not found" or something equally catastrophic? Put the Item in a box labeled "Deal with it later!" Don't let it slow down the Inventory!
  3. What if a book is found in the wrong place on the shelf? Scan it, then put it in a "Reshelve" box. Do NOT take time to reshelve it now as that will always slow things down and could compromise the Inventory. As tempting as it is, don't do it!
  4. It's OK re-run the Reconciliation Report several times (before Check Ins and Outs are permitted) as it can point out correctable errors (like a missed shelf.)


There you have it. Wasn't that fun?

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  • I think it would be a nightmare for us to try and do inventory! Because we rearranged our books.

    They are not in the shelf order anymore we put all the Amish together Historical, Western Suapense... you get the idea each is color coded for OUR benfit when it comes to putting them away (line on back next to barcode)  Since Mysteries and Suspense are now just inside the door we have seen more men come through possibly because they don't need to wade through the Amish and the Historical Romances to find what they want.

    There is no way that I see to change them in the computer since they are still Adult Fiction wherever they might be living and besides who knows what the next librarian might want to do

    We do have a system of cleaning and dusting every shelf and book once a quarter  that gives us a chance to weed  and see if one needing repair slipped past at check in

  • We cannot close for a full inventory, therefore, we are continually inventorying by section or collection (our General Inventory) and for the upcoming quarter (Specific Inventory).

    General Inventory:

    1. Set up an inventory section in Atriuum.

    2. Pull all items from that section, one shelf at a time, cleaning the shelves and each item as we go.

    3. Scan each item in Atriuum. Put items needing extra cleaning/repairing/replacing in a separate pile.

    4. Return items to the shelves and continue until all shelves in that inventory section are completed.

    5. Work on the cleaning/repairing/replacing pile.  Add any items to the Order list.

    6. Look at section as a whole for any weak spots.  Research those items and add to Order list.

    Specific Inventory

    1. Review with pastors and directors (and some teachers) their plans for the upcoming quarter.  It is March now, so I'll begin looking at Summer quarter next week.

    2.  Read corresponding sections in the Bible to re-familiarize myself with the truth. Example: for classes using Explore the Bible, I'll read thru Kings for summer quarter; women's ministry will be studying portions of Genesis, so I'll read thru those chapters and review their curriculum (Precept in this case).  Review any curriculum for approach and suggested resources.  Add to Order list.

    2. Using keyword(s), I run printed lists of all resources.  Using that list, I pull those items off the various shelves.

    3. Scan each item to ensure the catalog record is correct.  Clean/repair/replace.

    4.  Identify weaknesses and add to ORder list.

    5. Prepare printed list for distribution to teachers/students/general library patrons.  Have a PDF of list ready for email. Place list in OPAC and set up a channel in the e-library.

    Hope this helps.




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