Just to recap, I have chosen my particular librarianship path – reference and instruction – because I need human interaction during the day. While I am introverted, I definitely can begin to feel isolated if I don’t talk to people for days on end.
I’m saying this because yesterday I learned that I love the inventory process. It really shouldn’t surprise me – over the summer I loved weeding old books. But there is something so satisfying about inventory. But please never ask me to do cataloging/technical services/circulation for the rest of my life. I would probably go insane/
Libraries do inventory not only see what they have, but also to see what’s missing and find things that are out of place. Sometimes a book is “missing” simply because it has been misshelved for 10 years and no one has seen it! Ivy Tech is bustling through inventory because they are maybe hopefully getting a new integrated library system (ILS) in the spring so knowing what they already have will make exporting/importing data much easier.
To do inventory, first you pick whatever section to focus on. We have narrow columns here so my supervisor takes two or three columns and subdivides them to make it more manageable. Then you shelf read! Shelf reading sounds boring – you read all the call numbers and spine labels to find things out of place or out of order. Make it neat and tidy. I really enjoyed getting a library stool so I could properly sort the GVs on the top shelf and sitting on the floor to fix the Hs that were also wildly out of order. Then, I was given a laptop, scanner, and some hecking fancy Excel spreadsheet. Don’t ask me how this spreadsheet was made. But. Essentially. It works like this”
- Supervisor runs report to pull all the barcode numbers for the section I’m inventorying
- List of barcodes goes into spreadsheet (column A)
- I start scanning barcodes into Column B.
- The super smart spreadsheet has a list of barcodes “to be scanned” in Column C. As I scan, the spreadsheet (smart as whip) deletes barcodes from its “to be scanned” list.
- If I scan something that isn’t in the report, that barcode goes in the ugly pink column. This means it doesn’t belong there and I pull it off the shelves
When I’m done scanning, whatever barcodes are leftover in the “to be scanned” are books that are at this point missing. I go into the catalog program to figure which book, is it houses elsewhere, is it checked out, etc. If the catalog program gives me no hints, I go hunting. One book missing was in the GVs so I looked in the Cs, Ds, and Qs in case someone misread the call number. Nope. Then I looked on the books-to-be-shelved cart. Nope. Then I looked in the shelves surrounding the section. Nope. Then I looked in the back room where books pulled for events, books in need of repair, and books being processed sit. And there it was!!! It was so exciting!
So that’s the story of inventory. One day I want to learn how to make the super smart spreadsheet. But excel scares me and I’m currently more stressed about writing good cover letters.