Time to Clean Up Your Catalog

As the new school year begins, we know we must clean up our library spaces. But what about our virtual spaces–specifically the library catalog? Months of increasing overdue books, possible fines, and outdated lists mean a large discrepancy between what is on our shelves and what is in the catalog.

Clearing Overdue Books

Unfortunately, the hundreds of books checked out since 2020 are not coming back. Let’s not waste our time trying to track them down. Instead, use this opportunity to give students a clean slate. Clear the overdue items and erase fines. In some systems like Destiny, books must be reverted to lost since there is no function to clear outstanding books outright. But items marked lost present another opportunity–delete them from your catalog to reconcile what the catalog displays with what is sitting in the library waiting to be read.

Do an Inventory

An inventory is another great way to quickly delete lost items and find out what is in the collection. Scanning every item can be time consuming. Make it a community event by eliciting student or parent volunteers to help. If the library is open after school or on the weekend, invite fellow librarians or library students needing hours to lend a hand to scan. Inventories allow us to reactivate books marked lost, find books never barcoded, and do a quick weed of unwanted titles.

Collection Analysis Time

Once you complete an inventory, upload your streamlined collection to do a collection analysis.
Vendors like Mackin (https://www.mackin.com/hq/resources/videos/collection-analysis/) or Follett’s Titlewise Analysis (https://www.follettcommunity.com/s/article/Webinar-Learn-How-to-Perform-a-TitleWise-Collection-Analysis) allow for quick MARC record upload to evaluate your collection by age, reading levels, diversity, SEL, and fiction versus nonfiction. The results allow for strategic collection development for this critical year of rebuilding and revitalization.

Suppose you do not use either of these vendors to order. In that case, Teaching Books offers a similar tool. Go to https://www.teachingbooks.net/collectionAnalysis.cgi to examine “cultural classifications, genres, reading levels, text measures, and recency of publication for the titles you enter.”

Updating Lists

Finally, take the time to update curated lists by topic, format, and accessibility. Make sure they are posted in multiple spots – on your website, blog, catalog page, social media sites – to maximize visibility. Take advantage of your new tech-savviness to create videos, presentations, animations, or media-rich Wakelets of selected titles you want your students to read for interest, comfort, knowledge-building, awareness, escape, and joy.

Let’s put our library catalogs to use as students sink back into the pleasure of print alongside the ease of e-books.


Author: Leanne Ellis

I am a School Library Coordinator for the New York City Department of Education’s Department of Library Services. I plan and deliver workshops, provide on-site instructional and program support to school librarians, coordinate programs, administer grants, and am program coordinator for MyLibraryNYC, a program administered with our three public library systems.

Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics, Collection Development

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