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Shelf Inventory

Inventory Basics

All technology-based methods of doing inventory with Alma involve comparing a list of what is actually on the shelves with what Alma thinks is on the shelves.

Each inventory method has a mechanism for comparing those lists, and presenting the results. Library staff can then work to reconcile the differences, by marking items as LOST, reshelving items to correct shelving mistakes, and resolve items currently marked as LOST but actually on the shelves.

All three methods below can accomplish this task.

The most "bullet-proof" method, and the least likely to break or become obsolete over time, is the as-designed Alma method, listed first below. But it's also the most complex, detailed method. And has the disadvantage of not reporting out-of-order items.

The Purdue Method is the simplest and easiest to use, and generates the most succinct report to work. If The Purdue Method gives you adequate and accurate results, then no need to go further. But if you still have inventory concerns after using the Purdue tool, you can move on to one of the other methods.

The Alma Method

This method of inventory represents the out-of-the-box workflow for performing inventory.

Managing Physical Item Inventory Using Shelf Reporting

This method of inventory was well-presented at ELUNA 2018 in Spokane, WA by Tennessee Tech University.

The Purdue Method

This tool was developed by Purdue University as a PHP-based API program, whose use is documented here:

Shelf Inventory using Alma APIs - Ex Libris Developer Network (

A customized implementation for WACTCLC institutions can be found at:

The Chemeketa College Method

As presented at 2018 (Spokane, WA) ELUNA Conference, Chemeketa College developed this method of inventory, which involves an analytics report and custom Excel spreadsheets.