Inventory Time

The continued wanderings of a newly minted librarian


Well, it is that time again. Time to verify that the books that are supposed to be on the shelves are actually there and that there aren’t any books on the shelves that are not supposed to reside there. You may think this is a simple, easy process but you would be sadly mistaken.

First of all, this is the first time we have been required to do inventory for 3 years. We used to do it every year but then someone much higher up on the ladder told us we only needed to take inventory every 3 years. So… it has been 3 years. There are only a couple of us who were here the last time this was done.

Second, we do inventory the old fashioned way—paper and pencil (no hand held scanners for us)! Also we have a new library director so we are doing a bit more than inventory—we are checking for duplicates and call number irregularities as well.

All this means that it is very slow going. Picture if you will two wonderful library staff members in the stacks. One is climbing up and down on the library stool and reading off call numbers while the other is dutifully checking them off on a shelf list and marking any duplicates, missing items, oversize items, and other peculiarities. We only have 5 full time folks, one part time staff, and one student worker doing all this.

But does the wandering librarian despair? NO! In spite of the seemingly tediousness of the task it is not THAT bad. One gets to know the collection better in this process. And, even though it is slowing us down, by making notes and fixing call number issues etc. we will definitely improve the usability of the collection. Also, this is probably the last time inventory will be done by paper and pencil….hopefully next time there will be hand held scanners etc.

Yes this is a big project which can be tiresome, but it also gives us a chance to bond with each other and work more closely together which is fun. Part of the stress is that we are also redoing our whole student ID system now. These are also the library cards and we will need to be redoing everyone’s!  All faculty, all staff, all students (new and returning) will all need a new ID. The ID system arrives tomorrow, right in the middle of inventory. Fun, fun, fun. Change is always slightly stressful, but also makes things interesting.

So don’t pity those of us slaving away in the stacks making little chit marks by items on our shelf list, we enjoy our jobs! I think all of us will feel quite proud and satisfied when we have completed our task and our collection is all in order and looking good.