Collection Analysis? Walk the Shelves

Adding a little shoe spice to the stacksThese days you can get a fully automated analysis of your collection with a buying list to fill in the holes and purchase replacements for titles that should be weeded. But it is not the same as that personal look. Only you know about all the pieces and parts. Only you know how all the formats come together to create your collection.

You have to walk the shelves. Digitally and literally. You have to take a broad look over the whole collection. This is why it is good to shelve materials at the end of school. So you can get a gut feeling about what is there and what is not. Take notes as you go.

• What’s already available? What’s there to which you already provide access?

• What’s needed by your teachers to support the curriculum? What’s needed by your students to provide their window to the world?

Nonfiction. Grandview Heights School Library

Nonfiction. Grandview Heights School Library

• What’s wanted, rather than needed, because it’s popular? What’s wanted, rather than needed, just because it’s fun?

• What’s missing to provide students with a view of others like them? What’s missing to provide balance? What’s missing to move forward in technology?

You have to walk the shelves to complete the truest picture of your school library collection.


Author: Karen Perry

Former school library media specialist. Reviewer. Online instructor for Old Dominion University and University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the school library program.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development

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3 replies

  1. Library automation reports and analyses are great but walking the shelves is the best way to know your collection in order to weed subjectively and to make sure you can pair a book with a student. How else will you know if a favorite book has been loved to tatters?

  2. I totally agree! I have parent volunteers all year long, but at the end of the school year, I do a comprehensive inventory, and that is when I can actually see what needs to be discarded, repaired, replaced, and ordered!

  3. That is exactly the reason that I do inventory. It is not to find out what’s gone missing this year but where are those holes that need to be filled? What is there that I’ve forgotten? What oldie but goodie needs an updated copy? Thanks, Karen!

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