Counting Them Beans: Or, “Can we PLEASE toss these cassettes out?”

Today we start inventory. Because Monday was a Massachusetts holiday called “Patriot’s Day, we get beat out of a day. Poor planning by Yours Truly. At least SOME planning was involved.

We use no portable scanners. Kooky, right? Instead, we take our shelf list drawers to each section of the library, the old-fashioned way. Well, it keeps them off the street. It’s the one time in the year when your staff comes together as a team. It’s an interesting dynamic, seeing inmates from different departments (e.g., bookbinding and cataloging) working toward a common goal. It’s not perfect–what human endeavor is?–and sometimes opinions as to how something should be done leads to flaring tempers. We are, after all, talking about cranky old men here.

But by weeks’ end, the beans’ll be counted accurately, diligently, and relatively peaceably. I’ve never lost an inmate in an inventory to death or dismemberment. I’ve never even had anyone quit. These are good things.


After bean-counting, I have 30 days in which to submit the inventory report. This report usually constitutes 30 pages, half of which comprise statistics from the population law library. Although we don’t need to tally books which have been replaced by the Lexis system, we still need to account for physical equipment, hundreds of legal forms, and what seems on certain days like millions upon millions of regulations, policies, and procedures.

Once more, into the breach….