Published in Collection Management, 34:27-7-284, 2009. DOI:10.1080/01462670903175221


After over thirty years of failing to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the book collection at a large liberal arts library, our patrons complained that they could not find one in five books. Study of the problem indicated that in fact 20% of our books were either missing or miss-shelved. This article discusses the investigation of the problem and the impact after five years of conducting an annual inventory by using hand-held devices to gather barcodes and interface these with our catalog records to find the missing and miss-shelved books. The missing book rate dropped from 5.6% to less than one half percent. The miss-shelved book rate dropped steadily every year from 11.6% to 3.1%. The number of books reported as missing by our patrons dropped 90%.


misshelved books, inventory, missing books, hand-held devices, bar-coding, libraries

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