Since its Prime Day, I thought I would blog about the decline of the office Library.
In the past most companies had a library. It was a great place to go; do some research, get away from it all and read a book or just find some peace and quiet. However with the proliferation of the internet, companies no longer use libraries. You can now do all your research on line, get the latest news and magazines right at your desk so why do you need a library?
Libraries are expensive; the books, space and librarians all start to add up. So if there ever was an easy cost cutting exercise, then let’s get rid of the company library is right up there next to reduction in tea ladies. Personally I think getting rid of tea ladies is a false economy but I’ll save that for another blog.
However I do think we have really lost something with the decline of the library. In the past the company library was the only place to go if you wanted to know about anything and read the professional journals and text books. Going there was great, firstly I was always one of the few people who knew it existed. So the only other people you met there were like minded; liked books, interested in learning and knew the value of a good book. So you automatically had something in common with everyone and then you could exchange ideas over a coffee. If you are doing research then you can discuss problems with others and find solutions that you never would have come up with on your own. But a library is about more than the people going there it’s about books!
With the internet the information could be OK and genuine or it could be there today gone tomorrow. There is a time and a place for internet research and while it is good for a broad search, after that I prefer a book. A book doesn’t change, it will always be the same. It has an author and will normally be checked by experts in the field so the chances are that it will be correct. This is not necessary true, I remember reading a book on queuing theory and thinking that the equation just didn’t make sense. So I went back to the university library and got the references for the book. Followed it back till I found the original book with the original equation. And the explanation showed that there was a typo, a minus instead of a plus. Everyone else had just copied it without understanding.
But this just shows you the power of a library. Everything in one place, so if you don’t understand one explanation, follow the references and find somebody else’s.
So what do we do now? I think that we should have the office bean bag and kindle! That way you can still enjoy a sit down with a good book, yet not have the wasted space. A library in one small tablet.
Be different, start a new trend. Get a kindle library for your office. And if you are wondering what books to fill it with, may I recommend mine: Calculating How Many Staff Do You Need, Holiday Management, Holidays Included Shift Pattern, Fatigue and Shift Work, Banked Hours, Understanding your Absence Rate.