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Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Bookette's Guide to... a Library Audit

This must surely be the most boring post I’ll ever write. But I promised @joe_humphreys that I would blog about my first ever audit at work and I always keep my promises.
I have been at my current school three years and five months. It’s been fantastic and I love being the School Librarian. But since day one there have always been books on the catalogue that I’ve never seen. I joined the school when they’d just finished building a new child-centred Library. Before the books were housed in two separate classrooms. I always believed a proportion of the books never made it to the new site and so I needed the catalogue to be updated and an accurate representation of the stock we have. Our Library Management System is Junior.net.

  • Booking the hire of a portable barcode scanner from Microlibrarian a good term in advance (the end of the year is a popular time) – cost for two weeks £270 – It arrived on the Friday before via UPS.
  • Letters home to parents to inform them the Library would not be loaning any books for the last two weeks of term and the summer holiday
  • Organising with SMT that the Library would be completely shut in the final week
  • Getting as many books back from students as possible

The audit:

  • It took maybe an hour to get the scanner working on the Monday morning. Warning: You need the ICT department on hand! I am fairly good with computers but I could not get it to work. Even the ICT Manager had trouble. We had to put it on to another computer which didn’t already have a scanner in the end.
  • I set up the Stock Check page on Junior.net.
  • I began by scanning all of the non-fiction and putting it all back into the correct order as I went along.
  • Each time I completed a section, I blu-tacked a piece of paper to the shelving saying: COMPLETE.
  • Once you have scanned 1000 items, you upload the data into the Stock Check. This can take up to half an hour if your internet is slow.
  • Then I moved on the young fiction, kinder boxes, staff library etc.
  • Also as I went along I weeded books.
  • The final task was the cupboard. It’s chaos in there!
  • Once you have scanned everything you hit Complete in the Stock Check. The system then restores any books that were scanned but thought to be missing, returns anything that is in but was thought to be out on loan and moves anything not scanned to missing. You can print a list of the missing items to reflect on.


  • The portable barcode scanner saved so much time. It scans much more quickly than the issue desk scanner even if it does take time to upload the data. At least you don’t need to keep dragging books to the desk.
  • It takes an hour to scan 300 books. So depending on your stock level, you should be able to work out how long the audit will actually take.
  • The number of books that were in fact missing: 947.
  • That is a lot! (Does anyone know the SLA guidelines on acceptable losses?) But looking on the list, some of them were never in the Library e.g. A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer (I’ve never seen that in my Library). I also found that some books have been catalogued twice and had two barcodes so those could be permanently deleted. And some books had been weeded but obviously not deleted from the system.
  • The next step was deleting all the books I’d weeded. Cataloguing anything that was on the shelf but had not been catalogued. Adding spine labels to some books that didn’t have them.
  • It took six days to scan all the books. So we went into the first week of the summer holiday. (We had anticipated this). The next two days we did all the corrections/ deletions. I had my assistant to help me. If you’re doing it on your own, I’d anticipate things taking a bit longer. As she was deleting, I was adding on our new intake for September and moving tutor groups. 

It’s nice to feel like all the queries have been dealt with and that the Library will be ship-shape for the new academic year.

Happy Summer Holiday everyone!


Book Angel Emma said...

Not boring at all - very helpful to other librarians - thank you

Joe said...

Hehehe, it's my fault, I'm the one who asked for this! ;)

But I'm with Emma, of course, this is far from boring. It's not glamorous work, but it's such an important part of what we do.

Your conclusions make for particularly helpful reading. I know for a fact now that I will need a portable barcode scanner, and shut the library for at least a week to get this done properly at my place.

947 books missing! I shudder to think how many are missing at my place. More than I'd care to think, judging by how often I fail to find a book my catalogue tells me is there.

So yes a big job, but how gratifying to know your library is in great shape for next year. Have a great summer too and thanks for keeping your promise to me :-)

Jenni said...

This is most definitely not a boring post, it's fascinating to read and I'll certainly be bookmarking it for future reference.