It’s now time to take stock

Written by Julie Styles, Cataloguing Librarian, SCIS

With the end of the year fast approaching, now is an excellent time to consider stocktaking your library collection. You may want to stocktake the whole collection at once or do the fiction this year and the non-fiction next year. It all depends on how much time you have available and how much labour you have at your disposal.

Advantages of stocktaking

In handling each resource, you learn a lot about what you have and have not in your collection.

It may be time to ‘weed’ out outdated or little-used material. The ever-changing subject areas of computer science, science and geography are always a good place to start.

Books in a poor state of repair may need to be repaired or replaced.

You are likely to find at least a few books that have been incorrectly shelved and missing for a long time.

Gaps in subject areas will be discovered. You may have nothing or very little on 3D printing. You may alternatively decide you have quite enough on ancient civilisations.

Due to popularity, you may decide to buy additional copies of some titles.

Best of all, your collection will be all organised and ready to start the next school year.

Colourful books stacked tightly
Photo by Robert Anasch on Unsplash

How to go about doing a library stocktake

As always, we recommend that you speak to your library management software vendor for specific instructions on how to complete a stocktake.

Stocktaking and SCIS records

The SCIS catalogue, like every other library catalogue, is continually evolving. It reflects changing international standards in cataloguing and internal policy decisions. Many of these internal changes come as a result of your feedback and often enhance the usability of the catalogue. Usually, we implement changes from a certain date and do not worry about previous records. However, in some circumstances, it is considered necessary to change older records also. When this is the situation, in many cases, we can make ‘blanket’ or ‘global’ changes to our older records. As this is a big job, we usually concentrate our efforts on records created in the last ten years.

Changes that impact SCIS records

In 2015 we stopped treating stories with rhyming text as poetry, changing the Dewey number from the number for poetry to F for fiction. And the subject headings for all these titles now had Fiction as a subdivision instead of Poetry. The SCIS genre heading Stories in rhyme and the SCOT Verse stories was also added to the record. Global changes were made to records made in and after 2012.

Before 2018 series titles were recorded as presented on the item, resulting in inconsistencies across records. Selecting consistent and authorised series authorities, and updating records has been a significant project and work continues to ensure that older records are linked with the correct series term.

From January 2018, we started adding diacritical marks to name and series authorities. This particularly made a difference to names and titles in the Māori language. We continue to update older records that do reflect these new authorities.

Series sequential numbering terms such as Bk., Book, No., Number, Pt, Part, Vol., Volume and Issue are no longer included in the series statement. RDA cataloguing rules require cataloguers to enter the information exactly as it appears on the book. But as the sequential terms used often vary amongst publishers, this can cause inconsistencies in series filing. It was for this reason that SCIS revised its cataloguing standards in May 2018 to record the series number and the sequential term. Older records are now being stripped of these terms.

In addition to these major bulk changes, we occasionally pick up spelling errors, Dewey number errors, and cataloguing errors in individual records which we correct immediately.

Conclusion

At SCIS, we have worked hard to make changes to records to improve the functionality of your library catalogue. However, if you still have many of the old records, your library users will not be gaining the full benefit of all these improvements.

Libraries that wish to update their SCIS records to pick up enhancements may decide to re-download the record for each of the titles handled during a stocktake. Yes, it will add to the process, but it is certainly not something you will have to do every year. However, I emphasise, if you want to do a big ‘clean up’ overwriting existing records with SCIS records, you need to confirm with your library management software vendor first to make sure you are doing it correctly. We do not want you to end up with duplicate records or deleted records inadvertently.

Please feel free to share your stocktaking experiences.

Happy stocktaking!