Library Inventory Best Practices

Nov 25, 2022

Library Inventory Best Practices

One of the most dreaded tasks in the land of libraries is performing inventory. Having to scan every item in your collection can feel quite intimidating, so much so that many librarians find themselves putting the task off or questioning whether the process is even necessary.

Why do we need to conduct inventory?

How frustrating is it when a book is found entirely out of place? How about when a patron wants an item and you are struggling to locate it? Or how about when a patron swears they returned a book and ages later, you actually find it! Situations like these are not entirely avoidable (mistakes happen!), but you can certainly decrease their occurrence with a well-organized collection. Inventory is what helps you maintain that organization by ensuring that the records in your database accurately reflect your physical collection.

Feed two birds with one seed

Completing an inventory also gives you the opportunity to assess your collection for materials that should be weeded. While it can be tempting to let your collection grow and grow without evaluation, there are some materials that may become outdated or simply be in poor enough condition to warrant repair. Inventory is the best time to complete an evaluation of this caliber. Inventory is also a great time to:

  • Tidy and clean your shelves
  • Evaluate your shelving arrangement
  • Reacquaint your staff with less commonly circulated materials
  • Ensure the all-around quality of your collection

Set your team up for success

The task of completing inventory requires a lot of physical maneuvering. To avoid stooping or sitting on the library floor, locate rolling stools for your staff. If you are working with a laptop, put it on a rolling cart (this doubles as a place to stack materials that need to be pulled). Since the process is carried out by scanning barcodes, consider investing in a wireless scanner for ease of movement.

Break it down

If your library hosts a larger collection or you are limited on staff, you can conduct a partial inventory. During a partial inventory, you divide the resources into manageable sections. Inventory is completed one section at a time, often by category or physical location. Most integrated library systems (ILS), like Surpass Cloud, will have an option to print your missing items report based on a range of call numbers or a specific category. Using this method, you can even conduct rolling inventory throughout the year.

Whatever methods you employ, know that a completed inventory means an accurate database, which will enable you to better serve your patrons (and make your work easier in the process).

About Surpass 

Surpass Cloud is the easy-to-use, cloud-based library management system for libraries of all types and sizes. Whether you’re a school, church, museum, business, or any other organization with resources to lend, Surpass is likely a good fit for you. We pride ourselves on being affordable and flexible, with an expert support team ready to help you at a moment’s notice. 


Schedule a free demo to see Surpass in action.






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