In a recent district library meeting I was asked why do I think inventory is important. That really made me ponder the process and why was I so adamant in making sure I had completed an inventory for the past 25 years.
Yes, when I began the process I had 2 paraprofessionals in a school of 1400 students and we pulled out the shelf list cards and meticulously called out each and every card one by one. It took a tedious 2 weeks to complete the task with 3 full- time library staff members. Fast forward to a very different time with only myself as an official library staff member, I am asking myself is inventory necessary? I have read articles from some well respected members in my PLN that claim it’s a waste of time. I also listened to both sides in the library meeting with the conclusion we must all do what is right for our library program and school.
With that being said here are my top reasons for why I still take the time to complete the inventory process. I want to note that every district, except for my present district, has required an annual inventory. I do not wait until the end of the year to complete the process because it’s just too busy with the year end’s demands. In our library program I have turned the circulation desk and shelving responsibilities completely over to my student aides. I also have released the inventory process over to the students. So here is my list.
- Since the students are 100% responsible for shelving, the inventory process helps with areas that have not been shelved properly.
- It also helps with the frustration of marking missing books lost. It’s time consuming for students to constanting continue to look for the same missing books. If they are missing, get them marked as lost, and reorder the books.
- It’s a fantastic PBL (Project Based Learning) project for the students. All 18 of my students must work together in completing the task. They must communicate with others even when they don’t have class together. This is an phenomenal group project on organizational skills.
- If we are going to charge students to replace lost books, I want to make sure the books are not on the shelves. It’s a huge accountability issue on my part. There is nothing more embarrassing than emailing a parent about a lost library book only to find out it’s on the shelf.
- Although weeding is a beast of its own, it allows us to look at books that are falling apart, musty, or needs replacing. I do not intentionally weed during inventory but some books just cannot be overlooked for the weeding pile.
- Inventory gives ownership to the students. I have witnessed student volunteers helping along with my student library aides. A student driven library program is a successful program.
- This gave my students the opportunity to run reports, analyze data, and complete reports
I want to make it quite clear that this is a decision and process that works for our library program and in no way am I advocating that everyone MUST complete an inventory. We begin the task around Spring Break scanning sections as time allows. We complete inventory with our fiction section just after all books are due. In essence, my advice is to adhere to what works best for your library program.