Inventory: Taking Stock of Your Collection
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Conducting an inventory is something that many libraries discuss but seldom act upon. The decision to conduct an inventory is one that is cannot be made lightly. Typically, it is user complaints that prompt us to consider this monumental task; users lose confidence in the library catalog as well as the library itself when they are unable to find materials in the expected locations. The University of Mississippi Libraries conducted a pilot inventory of the Science Library to determine the feasibility of a full inventory of the Main Library’s one-million-plus collection. As a result of the pilot, modifications to the inventory process has made it more efficient and cost effective. Highlights from the pilot inventory are used as examples of issues encountered during a full inventory. Time and cost are primary concerns when considering inventory. The pros and cons of taking stock of one's collection will be presented as a lead-in to a discussion of the expected outcomes or goals of an inventory. In other words, what do you hope to accomplish by taking on this task? Dependent upon the goals of an inventory, libraries have the option of choosing an inventory method. An overview of the various inventory methods will be presented and alternatives will be discussed.