Employers who are serious about supporting their employees’ professional development may want to consider creating an office library. Office libraries encourage employees to keep their skills up-to-date, expand their knowledge, and grow as professionals through the simple act of reading. It’s a useful office perk and an easy, inexpensive way to invest in employee engagement and professional growth. (More on how reading is beneficial to professional development here.)
Creating an office library need not break the budget. The idea is to find an easily accessible place where employees can go to borrow reading materials related to their line of work. It can be as simple as a bookshelf in a common area if space is tight, or as fancy as a cafe-style lounge with comfy seating and tables.
You can run your office library like a reading room, where employees are invited to read on-site but not allowed to take materials out, or you can use some type of check-out system, like a log book, to allow employees to borrow materials. No matter how you set it up, though, you’ll need to put someone in charge of the library who is responsible for ordering new books, keeping subscriptions up to date, following up on books that have been lent out, and generally keeping things in order.
Of course, the most important part of any office library is the reading materials. A well-stocked office library should contain a variety of books and periodicals related to your profession. For example:
- Books relevant to your particular field.
- Classic business books, like Who Moved My Cheese? or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
- Books on general professional development topics, like leadership, creativity, and organizational development. Originals by Adam Grant and Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown are two recent favorites.
- Reference books for your industry.
- Subscriptions to industry publications and journals.
To recap, it only takes three easy steps to get started creating your office library!
Find a good location, preferably in an easily accessible common area.
Appoint an admin who will act as your librarian.
Stock up with lots of good books!
Anyone can start reading for professional development on their own, and it’s even better when ambitious, like-minded professionals get together to read. For a minimal investment, though, any employer can support the professional development of their employees with the fantastic resource of an office library.