Friday, May 17, 2013

To Inventory or Not to Inventory, That is the Question?

It’s that time of year when school librarians across the world begin the tedious process of inventory. With the elimination of staff in schools, librarians have eagerly taken on more responsibilities. With these additional roles can we continue to keep up with tasks such as inventory?

In the 23 years that I have worked as a school librarian, I have completed a full inventory every year but one due to the fact we were moving our library to a new location. The librarian in me knows the advantage of having an accurate database but realistically I must set priorities. That being said, I have come to understand that inventory doesn’t have to be this ritual completed during the last two weeks of school.

Many years ago Mary, a fellow librarian, announced in January that she was starting her inventory. Aghast at the statement, I asked how could this possibly be completed without all the books returned and on the shelves and in their proper places? She explained that the company actually recommended starting the process during the school year and that all the items checked out would be accounted for. After much thought I realized Mary was correct. It was at this time that I began inventory shortly after Spring Break each year. We would work in various collections such as the AV, equipment, or areas not frequently used. By the end of the school year we would have scanned most of the library leaving collections such as the fiction for last. 

With the completion of inventory prior to the last two weeks of school, this allowed me time for the many other end-of-the-school year tasks. More time was spent gathering overdue items, organizing the library for the summer, and finalizing any programming for the school year. Scanning collections as time is available over a 2-3 month period (or more) allowed a seamless inventory process rather than a stressful “shut the library down” event. 

In the end, librarians are extremely dedicated and hard working individuals. We must all make choices and set priorities. I do feel inventory is important but I have learned how to make it a less stressful process.

1 comment:

  1. Back in the day when librarians were primarily inventory/warehouse managers, doing an annual inventory at the end of the year helped validate their worth. But since the focus now is primarily on the instructional side of librarianship, taking care of clerical tasks as they can be squeezed in during the year makes good sense. Which is more important during the last few weeks of the school year? Inventory or providing access to all resources until the last day? I vote for keeping access to all resources until the last hour of the last day!

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