Three Reasons Why Library Style Inventory Control Doesn’t Work for Textbooks

By Anna Maxin

Providing the best possible learning environment for students is the primary objective of the 21st century classroom.  To accomplish this, schools must increase the effectiveness of every dollar spent on providing this educational experience.  Unfortunately, not all textbook inventory systems align with this goal and can unnecessarily increase the workload and cost for schools and districts.

An efficient textbook inventory process focuses on inventory transparency and accountability options designed to match the needs of school assignment and student/teacher obligations. Effectively accessing inventory data available across other schools prior to placing an order for materials focuses on meeting the real‐time and anticipated needs for instructional materials utilized in the district.

The following are fundamental process differences library management systems don’t provide:

1.    Individual book numbers do not matter, until it matters.

For library books, the focus is on creating and tracking individual book numbers of materials – cataloging which specific books are sitting in a storage closet? How much did I purchase each one for? How many circulations have those books been in use for? Which are being transferred to another school? However, to effectively manage textbooks, resource kits, and consumable materials the focus really lies on managing quantities of each product to efficiently manage ownership, availability, and transfer of materials.   An effective textbook inventory process ensures that inventory counts meet the real-time and anticipated course enrollment needs for instructional materials at the building level, with individual copies only being tracked for student and teacher assignment.

2.    Efficiency is key – manual barcode scans add up.

Time is limited and scanning books adds up. When a large quantity of textbooks needs to move from school to school, or school to warehouse, having to scan each individual book number is time-consuming and redundant.  Your staff is overburdened, it takes longer for books to reach the classroom, or your inventory system is being skipped to effectively get those books into students’ hands quickly.  Efficient textbook inventory systems focus on streamlining traditionally complex inventory processes with a fundamental warehouse best practice – manage inventory by quantity counts. Provide your staff with the capability to transfer materials from building to building without manual scanning.  Simply count the quantity of books by title and key it into the system to receive new inventory, transfer inventory, or physically audit existing inventory – no scanning necessary.  Your warehouse staff is happy, your school staff is happy, and your teachers are happy when they have their textbooks on the first day of class.

3.    Be accountable without sacrificing staff time.

Tracking a detailed building transfer history of an individual book doesn’t provide any benefit to your school’s textbook processes, so why spend valuable resources on it? True textbook management focuses on the importance of tracking a detailed charge history for an individual book, so the correct student is held accountable. This provides you with valuable reporting results when you need it most, without sacrificing the efficiency of your inventory program.

Inventory control is too important to include processes that create unnecessary work for your campus and warehouse staff.  Align your inventory processes with your district goals for student success by matching the level of efficiency and accountability needed for achievement.

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