Monthly Archives: June 2014

Library Bucket List

Ever packed up an ENTIRE library? By yourself?

If that monumental task were on my bucket list, I could seriously check that bad boy off. In fact…

(Note to self: Add packing up 10,000 sqft. library solo to bucket list; then, cross off)


With the renovations to the library slated for June-December, I knew that the contents of the media center, my office, the conference room, the circulation desk, the A/V room, and two storage rooms would need to be packed and moved/stored for six months, but surely I would have TONS of help. Right?


I also believed, if only half-heartedly, that the 19 bookcases – books and all – would be loaded on those nifty hydraulic carts and rolled into storage. Easy, peasy.

Not even close.

After the massive weeding session I affectionately call “The Great Purge of 2014,” it was time to break out the boxes and get to packing. Most folks probably would’ve called upon the ISS warden to round up 10 strong hoodlums-for-the-day and sentence them to hard labor in the library – heaving stacks of books from the shelves and cramming them into unmarked boxes.


Nope. Couldn’t do it. No matter that the job of boxing thousands of books would’ve gone a little faster.

All I could think of as I lay awake at night was how would I ever be able to put the library back together again? How would I know which books were in which box? Better yet, how would I account for lost books without first doing inventory?

Then, I had an a-ha moment around 3:00 in the morning (that’s when I do my best thinking; don’t you?). I devised a plan to inventory the collection as I packed creating packing lists for every box of books.

It went a little something like this:
1. Run shelf lists for every section (000’s-900’s, BIO, FIC, REF, etc.)
2. Import each list into a spreadsheet, which doubles as a packing list for each box
3. Grab a crap-load of boxes, double taped on the bottom for extra support
4. Label each box according to the section – REF BOX #1, REF BOX #2, etc. – on at least two sides and the top of the box
5. Open a Google Doc – Just a plain document, not a spreadsheet
6. Type a short heading in the GDoc that matches the label on the box (i.e. 000’s BOX #1)
7. Have both the shelf list and GDoc open on your computer (split screen)
8. Scan the barcodes into the GDoc checking the titles against the shelf list
9. Create a new inventory in your library system (I use Atriuum) for each section. It’s much easier to find “missing” or problem books that way.
10. Periodically, copy and paste the list of scanned barcodes from the GDoc into Batch Inventory.

1. If the book was missing, I highlighted the call # in yellow on my shelf list.
2. If I was keeping it on a book truck for my mini library, I highlighted it in turquoise.
3. Books with incorrect spine labels or bibliographic information were highlighted in green (pink if they were on my “To Do” cart).
4. I also made additional notes for books needing new Mylar covers, minor repairs, or attention for other issues.

Fiction - Shelf List Part 2 Packing Lists


Here’s why:
Most of the missing books had been checked out. As they were returned, I checked my shelf list to find which box would be its new temporary home. Then, I erased the yellow highlighting, scanned the book in my GDoc, and dropped it in the appropriate box. I set Atriuum to automatically mark a title in inventory when it’s checked in.

The last thing I did before closing the boxes was run a Lost Items report and double check my boxes. I’m frequently interrupted throughout the day because I’m the only LMS, so I made a few errors. However, it took about 20 minutes to find them all using my shelf lists as a guide.

I know it sounds tiresome (yes, it was) and convoluted (not really), but I assure you that my approach was carefully planned with the end in mind: putting it all back. When the renovations are completed, I’m going to want the library opened ASAP. This method allows me to employ the help of responsible adult & student volunteers to reshelve the library expediently. If they can read, then they can match the spine label to the correct Dewey order on the shelf list and put the book in its proper place. Even if I have to put every book back on the shelves myself, it will go much faster than the packing.

I mean, could you imagine trying to sort through 300+ poorly labeled boxes and put over 11,000 books back on the shelves in the correct order AND maintain your sanity? Keep in mind that I had over 70 boxes for the fiction alone.

I genuinely had no idea how much crap there was to box up, which is why a bunch of it was either given away or chunked in the garbage. I’ve only been the librarian for two years, but I was hanging on to 40 years worth of stuff – like a bad episode of Hoarders: The Library Edition. As a new librarian, I didn’t know if I might ‘need’ an item, so I hated to let anything go my first year. (I know what you’re thinking: Just check circulation records. The month before I got the LMS position, our district server crashed losing ALL library information and data in the OPAC.) But when I was faced with choosing to keep an item (which also means pack it, unpack it, and find a place to store it in a brand new library), I discovered it was much easier to let-it-go (insert Disney montage).


Chronicles of a Media Center Renovation: Part III

JUNE  24, 2014

After just a few weeks, the library has been stripped, and demolition has begun. Most of the offices are gone. The media room and bathroom are being converted to faculty bathrooms. Who knew all that space was above the ceiling tiles?


image image image image image image image image

Weeding: WWBGD?

I knew in January that this semester would be busy with the renovations beginning in May, but I wasn’t quite prepared for it, not really.

After the last meeting with the architects, I was told that I would need to get rid of about 8,000 books to reduce the collection to 10,000. I almost cried – actually, I think I did shed a few tears before the day was over. The tears were not for the loss of so many books, but for the loss of the space I’d worked so hard for the last 18 months to create, and the loss of the “library” as I knew it.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m the first to embrace technology, eBooks, Web 2.0 tools, and such. Digital literacy was my focus throughout grad school. I just get a little nostalgic for the way things used to be sometimes. Part of me misses searching for books using the card catalog.

Suffice it to say, I had a monumental task that lay before me and needed a plan. So I asked myself, “Self, what would Barbara Gordon do?

Since I’d already weeded several sections last spring, I decided to begin where I left off – the 300’s and go section by section until I had gone through every single book in my library. Not only did I clear entire shelves of books, but I also staged each shelf similar to book stores and photographed each section before and after.


No sooner had I finished one section, the books started flying off the shelves. Keep in mind, I was working in the 300’s – not the fairy tales or true crime sections either – I was right in the middle of economics and government. Teachers would walk by to see what I was up to on their way to their monthly meetings and, as if by magic, a book would catch their attention. I had more folks – students and teachers alike – make the same few comments: “I didn’t know we had this book!” and “Are these new?” and my personal favorite “Ooh! Can I check this one out?”

At this point, I had become obsessed with weeding. I looked forward to each new conquest and eagerly anticipated finding the next “gem” that should’ve been retired decades earlier (but due to former accreditation standards, these books were retained simply to satisfy quotas – number of books per student).

I found a book on steroids from the early ’90’s – which may not sound that old, but the guy on the cover was sporting a mighty fine mullet with a perm. Moving down the shelves into the section on various communicable diseases (616.9), I discovered that VD was all the rage in the ’70’s. Sadly, even the book entitled “The Love Bug” had to go. But the most memorable find was “The Dating Book: A Guide to the Social Scene” circa 1983. This little gem had some “student annotations” that certainly spiced up the content a tad (watch out E.L. James!). This book was mistakenly pulled from the shelf during my library orientation scavenger hunt (which reinforced the need to teach students how to read spine labels), and subsequently checked out by a student later that same day. Not only did this student take the book home, but she showed it to her parents. Oh, the horror!  Needless to say, that one provided hours of laughs, so much so that I kept it.

After two and a half months of 10.5 – 12 hour days, I had weeded a grand total of 6,665 books, 4,955 nonfiction and 1,710 fiction. I must admit that I was a little bummed when the weeding was finished, mostly because I knew what was next: packing it all up.   But that’s another story . . .

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