Stocktaking guide

This guide explains the rationale for taking stock of your print collection and provides a step-by-step process for the exercise.


Reasons for stocktaking
Stocktaking enables you to
Initial preparation
Preparation: equipment and staffing
Setting up your catalogue software
Stocktaking begins: scanning in the barcodes
Procedure after scanning all items
Reporting your stocktake results

Reasons for stocktaking

Stocktaking is a library management tool that provides information on the state of the catalogued collections in your library. Many New Zealand schools are required to account annually for their library resources. Library management systems have a function that is used to undertake the stocktake.

While many schools are compelled to complete a stocktake annually, for those who are not, you may wish to work on a rotation or at longer intervals, based on your experience and an analysis of the value for time spent. At the bottom of this page you will find a PDF of this text for easy download and printing.

Stocktaking enables you to:

  • Identify what’s been added to or withdrawn, including donations and digital resources if a catalogue record has been created for them.
  • Identify losses (find or replace as warranted).
  • Confirm that each item in your catalogue actually exists and is where it belongs.
  • Ensure that items flagged as overdue are not on the shelves.
  • Identify and fix catalogue anomalies.
  • Be confident that reports you generate are a true picture of the collection and its status
  • Provide accurate figures for the MOE accounting and reporting requirements

You may wish to include the information above in your Collection Management statement.

Initial preparation: communicate with users, catalogue reports, locate all stock

  • Notify teaching staff well in advance, and explain exactly why you are stocktaking.
  • Briefly explain the process, provide firm dates.
  • Most library management software packages allow you to continue normal library operations while the stocktake is proceeding be as flexible as you can without compromising your process. Try to avoid closing the library during term time. If you must close briefly, let all library users know in advance and offer alternatives for obtaining resources.
  • Back up your Library Management System before you start, and ensure it is saved on a separate portable hard drive, as well as on the school server.
  • All items purchased from the current year’s budget must have a catalogue record, with at least minimal information. A barcode, call number, title and price will suffice. These records can be completed post-stocktake. (This is an important step for audit purposes. What you have entered on this year’s intake must reconcile with your budget spend for that financial year.)
  • Recall all outstanding items, shelve them, and check that everything is correctly shelved. The more items on the shelves the smaller your missing list will be. Correct shelf order will save hours of time when carrying out your post stocktake shelf checks.
  • Check cupboards, drawers and shelves for books set aside (e.g. mending).
  • Create and print a status report (or reconciliation statement) for all items. Sort out any anomalies. Remove any items from the catalogue which are designated ‘missing at stocktake’ from previous years. This action will also minimise your missing list.

Note: If your barcodes have previously been placed inside books or other resources, consider moving to placing them on the outside in future. Having barcodes on the outside speeds the stocktake as well as other processes significantly.

Preparation: equipment and staffing

The most efficient method is to leave items on shelves and take the equipment to the shelves. Talk to your computer technician about the equipment you need to scan all resource barcodes quickly and efficiently.

Common options include:

  • Wireless barcode scanners (or).
  • Putting barcode scanner on a long lead - 1 x PS2 extension cable (10 metres?) and a 5 pin DIN to connect with scanner (depends on the scanner connection).
  • Transfer the library database on to a laptop computer so that you can operate without needing to carry books to the issue desk.
  • Transfer your computer on to a trolley or wheeled desk and operate as above.

Otherwise you will need:

  • One person to carry items to the desk.
  • One person to scan barcodes and checking that the scan is successfully recorded on the computer screen.
  • It is important to watch for accuracy at this stage this is when you will pick up any anomalies, such as the barcode not matching the catalogue record; blank accession numbers; the letter ‘O’ being confused with the number 0 etc.
  • At least one person to return scanned items and re-shelving accurately.

Setting up your catalogue software

Read the library handbook and/ or library software manual pages relating to stocktake, and/ or check your library software help pages relating to stocktaking.

If necessary check your software supplier website they may offer training or guidelines. Some software suppliers offer specific stocktaking workshops.

Once you have refreshed your knowledge of the process:

  • Confirm what information is required to comply with MOE accounting requirements.
  • Locate the stocktaking ‘wizard’ part of your library software.
  • Set up the wizard and any filters carefully – for instance: are items from the teacher resource room, or staff-room included in your library database?
  • Decide whether you will stocktake these, and set up your filter accordingly.

Stocktaking begins: scanning in the barcodes

Make sure that items such as magazines or games that may have been bar-coded are included in the process.

Any items issued or returned during the process will be automatically tagged as found for the purposes of the stocktake.

Procedure after scanning all items

  • Run stocktake reports, including report of items not accounted for in the stocktake.
  • Check report of not accounted for items carefully, checking for obvious scanning errors (e.g. shelves that have been missed, magazines or new resources that are in a cupboard).
  • Check the shelves for all ‘missing’ items. Scan any that are found.
  • Run a final ‘missing’ report. Circulate to administration and staff complete with monetary value asking everyone to please look for the missing items and return.
  • Publish a notice in the school newsletter and on the website.
  • Declare an amnesty - you will get more items back.

Reporting your stocktake results

Once you have located and scanned all the found and returned items:

  • Change the status of all non-scanned items so that their record shows they are ‘missing at stocktake and back-up your programme.
  • Finalise stocktaking reports and forward a copy to the Principal.
  • Provide final audit figures to your Bursar or school secretary - (your system may print this out as a report).
  • Stocktaking information will also be useful to feed into your Annual Report.
  • If you have had substantial losses, discuss the stocktake information with the principal to determine a strategy to minimise future losses.
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