The corporate library-how (and why) we set one up

Offering a corporate library to employees is a great way to encourage learning and give people low-cost opportunities for growth and development. We have been kicking around the idea of establishing one for a while (especially after my article about how to develop an employee reading program), and in October the right things came together to make it happen.

National Book Month

At Pinnacle, we do a monthly social awareness campaign to give employees some food for thought. October is National Book Month, so I was trying to see if we could get a book for every employee. That was going to be tough to do on our timeline, so instead we decided to pull a few books together and start the Pinnacle Library.

How It’s Set Up

We have a very basic set up since our office is relatively small. Clara, our property whiz, agreed to give me a hand, so she catalogs new books and puts them on the shelf. She also maintains the checkout list in SharePoint, so anyone can see what is checked in or out at any given time. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a great start!’s Model

Zappos offers a large stash of books for employees to borrow or keep. They are large enough to afford the purchase of hundreds of books per year, but they tie it into their core values for people to be constantly learning and growing, so people know that it’s expected of them to grab a book and start developing their knowledge. It’s a great way to be, and I hope one day we are large enough to offer free copies as well. You can also do book reviews in newsletters and other company communications to help generate some interest.

Our Books

The books to start were all donated (and most by me) :-) so it’s a random mix, but as we add to our corporate library I have a short wishlist of books that will be more targeted toward our software engineering focus and some of the other programs we have going on. To name a few:

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  2. Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh
  3. Perform Like a Rock Star by Orna Drawas
  4. Be Bodacious: Put Life in Your Leadership by Steven Wood
  5. The 1% Solution for Life and Work by Tom Connelan

Even Easier

If you don’t have the time or resources to have your own in-house corporate library, definitely take advantage of your local one instead. If you have an admin or staff member who you can send to the library once a week, they can take the library cards for your people and check out books for them. That opens up access to a larger body of resources and saves you the time and effort of administrating a corporate library on your own.

If you didn’t check out the post on why you need an employee reading program, I encourage you to do so. It has a fantastic framework for proving the necessity of such a program to your leadership.

Does anyone else use a corporate library? How has it been going for you?

9 thoughts on “The corporate library-how (and why) we set one up

  1. BenjaminMcCall

    Here are the titles we have in our library:

    Book Title Author
    10 Truths About Leadership: … It’s Not Just About Winning Pat Luongo
    101 Things I Learned in Business School Michael Preis
    Attitude 101 John Maxwell
    Change Anything: The new science of personal success Kerry Patterson
    Change the Way You See Everything through Asset-Based Thinking Kathryn D. Cramer
    Delivering Happiness Tony Hsieh
    Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, &Transform Your Business Josh Bernoff
    Gung Ho: Turn on the people in any organization Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
    Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity Hugh Macleod
    Leadership Presence Kathy Lubar
    Linchpin: Are you indispensible Seth Godin
    Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality Scott Belsky
    Monday Morning Leadership David Cottrell
    Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time Keith Ferrazzi
    Open Leadership Charlene Li
    Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture Jon Gordon
    Sun Tzu – The Art of War for Managers Michaelson and Michaelson
    Switch Chip and Dan Heath
    The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leaders Day: Revitalize Your Spirit And Empower Your Leadership John Maxwell
    The 3 Laws of Performance Steve Zaffron
    The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures Dan Roam
    The Orange Revolution : How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization Adrian Gostick
    The Passionate Organization James R Lucas
    The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference Linda Kaplan Thaler
    The Talent Solution Edward L. Gubman
    The Top 10 Distractions Between Winners and Whiners Keith Smith
    The Truth About Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know James Kouzes
    Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity David Sibbet

  2. BKneuer

    Ben: I too enjoy the “old” style books and think your idea is a good one. But will it need to adapt to the iPad and e-book trends?

  3. Pingback: Why and How I Read a Book per Week | upstartHR

  4. Shana Blackstone

    We are thinking of starting a library at work of both educational and pleasure reading. We would love if you have any thoughts on how to run it and how you catalog your books/magazines.

    1. Ben Post author

      Hey, Shana! Sounds like fun. We have our property/inventory lady keep track of who has something checked out. At this point we only have about a dozen books in the library (small office!), but as we grow we’ll probably use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of who has something checked out and what our entire list looks like. Do you guys have a lot of content in yours?

      1. vandana

        Hi Dear,

        we want establish a small office library for which because I want draft an email to the team on behalf of my boss in which I like to ask them about there interest are like what kind of books the would like to read along with the few rules to use the library books like always email me once they are taking a book from the library and book should be returned in one week time and cant take them to home once return dropped an email that the same has been returned.

        so I want to know that how to float a professional email to al the employees

  5. Shana Blackstone

    We have 150 employees and we are always sending them to seminars. I myself probably have 15 books alone. (I honestly have learned more about working from reading those books than I ever did in my four years in College). I think our biggest problem is finding the person who will keep track and check books in and out. It will probably come down to myself offering to do so. I’m excited to see all of the books combined. My biggest concern is that I would say we probably don’t have enough of our managers that are gung ho about reading. It will probably only a benefit a small handful of people at first. Also not sure if you have every heard of it but I got a copy of a brand new mag called “Build” It is amazing and I have learned a ton from just one issue.

  6. Seethalakshmi

    We have setup a small library at department level and have collected from our employees a few books and have also bought some good collections. Topics are covering leadership, communication, customer service and many other skills required to develop the career of our employees. We have a total of 50 books so far.

    Highly appreciate if you could share the templates and process you have in place.


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