Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Floating Bibs and Orphan Bar Codes: Benefits of an Inventory at a Small College

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

Floating Bibs and Orphan Bar Codes: Benefits of an Inventory at a Small College

Article excerpt

This paper describes an inventory project completed at a small college during summer 2004, including the approach used, problems encountered, and benefits that resulted. It provides a step-by-step account of how the inventory was conducted using Innovative Interfaces" Millennium software with a laptop and a laser scanner. The intent in providing this level of detail is to assist others who might be undertaking an inventory for the first time, in the hope that much of what applies to Millennium software will apply to other library software systems as well.

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In spring 2004, the Anne Bridge Baddour Library (ABBL) at Daniel Webster College began to plan for an inventory of its collections. Several reasons suggested the time was right for an inventory: the collections had not been inventoried in recent memory, a visit from the accreditation committee was scheduled for 2006, and, with no new books arriving during a budget freeze, staff had more time for a large project. This paper details the approach used, problems encountered, and benefits that resulted from an inventory at a small college. It concludes with practical suggestions for libraries embarking on an inventory project of their own.

Daniel Webster College is a four-year, private college located in Nashua, New Hampshire. While the college offers undergraduate degrees in traditional areas such as business management, computer science, and social science, it also attracts many students with its aviation curriculum. The campus has approximately 1,200 students, of which about half are residential students and half are nontraditional students. The library is correspondingly small, with a staff of five full-time and three part-time employees, and a collection of about 33,000 volumes. The library uses Millennium software by Innovative Interfaces, Inc. (III).

Literature Review

The recent literature surrounding library inventories describes the various approaches used in a regional library system, the hardware and software used for an automated inventory, and the benefits of an annual inventory. (1) Another recent publication details an inventory hampered by the dual impediments of moving to temporary quarters and a database made inaccurate by the retrospective conversion of this database to an integrated software system eleven years earlier. (2)

The following paper differs from these in its scope. It provides a step-by-step, practical account of how staff at a small library conducted an inventory using Millennium software with a laptop and a laser scanner. The author describes the problems encountered and the benefits that resulted. The intent in providing this level of detail is to assist others who might be undertaking an inventory for the first time, in the hope that much of what was learned in this project will apply to other libraries as well.

Testing

Since all of the items in the ABBL collection have bar codes and the library owns Millennium's inventory control module, the logical approach was to conduct an automated inventory. The small collection size of approximately 33,000 volumes prescribed a survey of each item in the collection, rather than the use of proportional sampling. The question then became whether to use the Percon portable bar code reader acquired from the library's software vendor (III), or to use a laptop in conjunction with one of the Metrologic MS951 laser scanners positioned at three workstations in the library. This became an issue because of the difficulties encountered during initial experiences using the Percon portable bar code scanner. This unit comes with an attached light pen so difficult to operate that it renders the entire device virtually unusable. This difficulty was identified during a preliminary scan of the small staff reference collection (seventy-two items) a few weeks before the inventory was to begin. During this test, one might have to run the light pen over a single bar code more than twenty times before it registered on the unit. …

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