has anyone set up a lending library in their office? I am thinking about doing this for my directs and peer managers but am slightly hesitant. If anyone has advise I could use some.

MattJBeckwith's picture
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I keep some books at work and I find myself occasionally referencing them.

"... this scenario reminds me of a chapter of [i]Freakonomics[/i]..." or "... it's like Friedman explained in [i]The World is Flat[/i]...".

I encourage reading and remind my staff that they are free to borrow them at any time.

Why are you hesitant?

jhack's picture

I've done it, too. Other folks contribute to it. Some books never return, but I figure it's better than them sitting on my shelves at home.


jpb's picture

I'm hesitant because I don't want to lose the books but I agree, its better to have them read than sitting on my shelf. The upside is worth the risk. If my team starts to read these books maybe we'll talk about them and build on what we learn.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

I don't have a library, really, I just loan people books.

For the technical books, I don't worry about getting them back, because they'll be obsolete soon anyway.

For management and personal development books, I make a note of who borrowed it, and ask them about the book ("Hey, what do you think of 'The Dip'?") in a week or so. They generally find their way back.

I have a small book budget, so every once in a while when it seems somebody is finding a book particularly useful, I tell them to keep it. Then either I replace it, or the Institute does.

Whether it comes out of my funds or the taxpayers depends on how directly useful it is to the Missions -- the Institute buys essentially all of the technical books, I buy most of the nontechnical ones.

I also recommend books to my boss's deputy, who has a bigger book budget than I, and if he likes them, he'll occasionally buy copies for all the managers. (Which is how I came to have a copy of P.M. Forni's "Choosing Civility.")

People loan me books, too, and I'm careful to read them soon and return them. That encourages reciprocity by modeling good behavior!


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Yep, done it and it worked and I loved it.

I used to be anguished about books that didn't come back...and then I learned that how I felt was my fault, and I learned to let them go when I...let them go.

As the saying goes, there are bookplates that say "Ex libris"...and there are bookplates that say, "ad usum". The latter the long run.

Buy (good) books and bill them to your company as professional development.

I encourage this strongly, and there is a future cast on this topic (next year).


PS: A bookplate is a label identifying the owner of a book, and they are usually stuck to one of the front pages of a book. Some say "Ex Libris" - which liberally translated means "taken from the library of" - which implies that the book was owned by the person identified. And some say, "ad usum", which means for the use of...implying something different.

jpb's picture

it's settled then. as soon as I return from this trip to China my books will be made available to my team.
It will be fun to design my own bookplate as well.
thanks for the advice, gems as usual.