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NYC School Librarian Guidebook: Inventory

Resources to examine our inherent bias, promote personal awareness, and help us build collections for our students that reflect themselves and the world around them.

Why do an inventory?

An inventory is the one library task that is often low priority. Many school librarians admit that they may not have opportunity during the school year to complete an entire or partial inventory. However, there are many good reasons for conducting an annual inventory.

  • An inventory helps ensure that material listed in the catalog actually exists and is available to students and teachers.
  • When writing grants, an inventory can help justify why the grant money is needed.
  • Knowing what is really on the shelves can help provide enough resources for curriculum demand.
  • An inventory often finds the “lost” books students misplaced.
  • An inventory identifies truly “lost” items, which may be replaced with future ordering.
  • An inventory helps keep an accurate number of the size of your collection.

Inventory involves using a scanner. Most automation software programs such as Destiny have inventory capabilities and hardware to conduct an inventory. This is the fastest and easiest. The process can be done with laptops/tablets on rolling carts with multiple scanners so can be done by several people at one time to expedite the process. By scanning each book and transferring the barcodes to the computer program, the computer makes the comparisons and indicates the missing items. At the end of the process, the computer reports which items were not matched and provides a count of the items that were matched.  It also gives the option to delete these lost items with one click!

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