How to do a stocktake with Koha

by Alex Buckley

Keeping your Koha catalogue up to date with what’s actually on the shelves is easy using the dedicated Inventory tool. As usual with Koha there are several different ways of using the inventory tool. The method you choose comes down to whether your library has a portable scanner or not.

Method 1: Create a shelf list

This method is suitable if your library does not have a portable scanner then you can use.

This method generates a shelf list, which you can compare against what’s on the library shelves.

You can either:

  1. Export shelf list to CSV file. Print the CSV file. Cross out items on the paper list. Return to your desk. Search for items on the list which you could not locate on the library shelves. Mark those items as ‘Missing’.
  2. Use a tablet. Visit the Koha staff client. Navigate to the inventory tool. Enter ‘Item location filters’, do not click ‘Export to CSV file’. The shelving location will display on the screen. When you see an item on the shelf click the ‘Seen’ checkbox for it. Click the ‘Mark seen and quit’ or ‘Mark seen and continue’ buttons to update the 952$r (Date last seen) for ticked items.

Watch a tutorial by Bywater Solutions.

Inventory tool

Navigate to Tools > Inventory, and ignore the ‘Use a barcode file’, ‘Or scan items one by one’ and ‘Parameters’ sections.

Set what items you want returned in the ‘Item location filters’ (letters for each input below correspond to the letters in the screenshot):

  • A: The ‘Location’ radio buttons allow you to choose if you want to retrieve items based on their home library (952$a) or current library (952$b)
  • B: Choose a branch in the ‘Library’ dropdown
  • C: Choose a shelving location in the ‘Shelving location’ dropdown
  • D: If you want to get more specific you can enter a callnumber range as well – this is useful if you don’t think you’ll have time to get through a whole shelving location. Note: This needs the whole callnumber in the starting and ending callnumber fields. It does not accept part of a callnumber.

‘Optional filters for inventory list or comparing barcodes’

These filters will retrieve ONLY the items in Koha that match the filters you’ve set. For example, if you tick the ‘Long Overdue (Lost)’ checkbox then the inventory tool will ONLY return ‘Long Overdue (Lost)’ items for the defined library branch and shelving location. If you do not change the defaults in the ‘Optional filters’ then all items for the defined library and shelving location will be returned.

  • E: ‘Last inventory date’ - This will not return items marked as seen since a date you specify. This is useful if you’re stocktaking a shelving location over multiple days and only want to fetch items not sighted since starting the stocktake.
  • F: ‘Skip items on loan’ - This will not return items that Koha records as on loan. As these items should not be on your library shelves

You can then choose to ‘Export to a CSV file’ if you want to print out the inventory list from a spreadsheet.

After you've completed your selections, click ‘Submit’.

Inventory tool form

Next page loaded

If you did not click ‘Export to a CSV file’ then the shelving list will be displayed on the screen.

  • Each item has a checkbox next to it, tick it to mark an item as 'seen'
  • There is a search field so you can search for an item you see on your shelf to find it in your inventory list, then mark it as 'seen'
  • ‘Mark seen and quit’ - Once you’ve ticked all the items in the shelving location you would click this to update the 952$r (Date last seen) item field.
  • ‘Mark seen and continue to’ - If you have multiple pages of inventory list to go through, and you’ve marked everything you can see as seen on the current page, and you want to check the next page of inventory list
  • ‘Continue without marking’ - If you just want to browse through to the next page of inventory list without marking any item as seen

At the end of the stocktake

If you want to view all items not sighted during the stocktake – so you can mark them as ‘Lost’/’Missing’, or change their shelving locations:

Navigate to Tools > Inventory, and ignore the ‘Use a barcode file’ and ‘Or scan items one by one’ sections.

Select your ‘Item location filters’ criteria, such as a branch and shelving location. Under ‘Optional filters for inventory list or comparing barcodes’, set the ‘Last Inventory date’ to the first date of the stocktake so only items NOT sighted during the whole stocktake will be returned. Tick the 'skip items on loan' field so checked out items aren’t returned. Ensure you tick the 'Export to CSV file' option as we’ll want to copy the barcode list in order to modify the items. After you've completed your selections, click ‘Submit’.

Once results are returned, download and view the CSV file in a spreadsheet program. Copy up to 1000 values from the ‘barcode’ column.

Back in the Koha staff client, navigate to Tools > Batch item modification. Paste the copied barcodes into the ‘Barcode list’ field. Do not tick the ‘Populate fields with default values from default framework’ option, and click ‘Continue’.

Koha will display a table of all items matching the barcodes you entered. Change the value in the ‘1 – Lost status’ or ‘c – Shelving location’ to whatever value you want, and click ‘Save’.

Repeat this process for the next 1000 barcodes.

Note: If you want to mark items as Lost then you should setup the Lost system preferences. Find out more about item statuses.

Method 2: Scan barcodes and compare to shelf list

This method is suitable if your library does have a portable scanner that you can use.

Essentially you go through a specific library shelving location/call number range scanning all the item barcodes into the Koha Inventory tool.

You then generate a Koha shelving list, as in method 1, defining the filters for the items that Koha will retrieve.

Koha then compares the items you scanned vs. the shelving list of items available in the catalogue. Any discrepancies between the barcode list and the shelf list are flagged.

Note: Do not scan more than 1000 item barcodes at a time. Any more than 1000 barcodes may cause the inventory tool to timeout.

Watch a tutorial by Bywater Solutions.

Inventory tool

Navigate to Tools > Inventory. If you have a file of barcodes then in the ‘Use a barcode file’ box click ‘Browse...’ to upload your file. Alternatively, you can use your portable scanner to scan barcodes straight into the ‘Or scan items one by one’ section.

Under ‘Parameters’ (the letters for each input correspond to letters in the below screenshot):

  • A: ‘Set inventory date to’: This is the date you want to be set in the 952$r (Date last seen) of the scanned items. This defaults to today’s date.
  • B: Tick the ‘Compare barcodes list to results’ checkbox: This is telling Koha that you scanned a specific library shelving location, and that you want to compare the scanned items vs. what Koha shows as available for that shelving location. This is a useful way of quickly identifying items on the shelves which are not listed as available in Koha and visa versa.
  • C: Tick ‘Do not return items scanned during inventory’: This is to make sure items are not marked as returned by running the inventory tool. It’s recommended that you tick this checkbox otherwise items that have been checked out to patrons, after you scanned the shelves, will then be automatically checked in – creating something of a problem!
  • D: Tick ‘Check barcodes list for items shelved out of order’: This will make Koha check and flag up if any of the items you scanned were out of order.

Under ‘Item location filters’, as with method 1, you need to choose the ‘Location’, ‘Library’, ‘Shelving location’, and call number range to generate a shelving list. Make sure that you set the filters to match the area of the library that you scanned. For example, if you scanned ‘branch A’, and shelving location ‘Non-Fiction’ then make sure you set the filters to ‘Library’ = ‘Branch A’ and ‘Shelving location’=’Non-Fiction’.

Do not click ‘Export to CSV file’. Submit your selection.

Inventory tool filled with barcodes

Next page loaded

All items that you scanned AND were in the shelving location have had their 952$r (Date last seen) automatically updated to what you set in the ‘Set inventory date to’ field. Koha informs you of how many items have been updated on this page – in the blue box in the below screenshot. If you scanned an item with a Lost status in Koha, then that Lost status will be automatically removed and Koha will show the item as available.

A table of problematic items will be displayed. There is a ‘Problems’ column on the right hand side of this table explaining the reason why Koha has flagged the item as problematic (highlighted yellow in the below screenshot). These reasons include:

  • ‘Missing (not scanned)’: The item was in the shelving list, but you did not scan it, i.e. Koha shows it as available, but in reality it was not on the library shelves. If you wish to mark this item as ‘Missing’ or ‘Lost’ in Koha you must click on the record title link in the table and edit the item. The inventory tool does not automatically mark items as ‘Missing’ or ‘Lost’.
  • ‘Found in wrong place’: You scanned the item, but it is not in the shelving list. i.e. Koha does not expect the item to be in the area of the library that you scanned.
  • ‘Still checked out’: You scanned this item, but it was checked out to a patron subsequently. Because you checked the ‘Do not return items scanned during inventory’ checkbox that means the item was not automatically returned by Koha.
  • ‘No barcode’: An item in the shelf list does not have a barcode.
  • ‘Unknown not-for-loan status’: If an item has a not for loan status that is not defined in your: Administration > Authorized values > NOT_LOAN
  • ‘Item may be shelved out of order’: This may be returned if you selected the ‘Check barcodes list for items shelved out of order’ parameter. It’s a useful tip telling you that you might need to reshelf the flagged item(s).

Inventory results

Written by Alex Buckley, Catalyst Koha Developer.

Catalyst Koha

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