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.
DO NOT CLOSE BOXES UNTIL THE VERY END!
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).