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How to launch a corporate Agile library

a vending machine - random books
One simple initiative each Agile Transformation can make is to create a book lending library focused on Agile processes, organizational change, learning organizations, best engineering practices in software development and other topics.  Since this topic of "what books would you recommend" comes up quite a lot, perhaps it is time for me to join the ranks of hundreds of people making their top 10 Agile books list.

Top 100 Agile Books (Edition 2012) by Jurgen Appelo

But no that's not what this post will be.  It is something much more useful.  Instructions on creating your very own lending library.

  1. Get funding - about $1000 for the first quarter.
  2. Find a book shelf and a reading room with comfortable chairs.
  3. Purchase 3 copies of each book on the short list - these books are the seed stock.
  4. Make a company logo sticker for the back of each book and inside cover.
  5. Make signs and hall way posters to advertise your new library.
  6. Make a book list to hang on the wall, listing all titles, authors, and number of copies.
  7. Upon arrival of a majority of your new (used) books - sticker the spines and inside cover and place them on the shelf.
  8. Open the library - send email, put up posters, invite people to read your books.
  9. In one month look at the shelf - compare it to the book list - purchase more of the books that are missing from the shelf (celebrate - they are being used).
  10. In month number two - send out a reminder email, and posters in the hall to return the book after they are read - give someone else a chance to enjoy such wonderful knowledge that has just been collecting dust on your night stand.
  11. In month three, work up a new list and purchase more books.
  12. Repeat until the whole organization knows everything.
I am constantly amazed at the looks I get from managers that can't image a lending library without a complicate check-out procedure to insure we get the books back.  I remind them that these are our trusted employees.  The ones with the keys to the client's kingdoms.  The same employees that could launch Thermonuclear War with just a key stroke.  So maybe we can trust them to return the books.  And hey, if they forget, then it cost us a few dollars to educate them in some new technique.  Compare that cost to sending them to a training session that they are planning to take their phone and TXT with their BFF the whole time.

Some further recommendation:
  • purchase used book - many great books have been in print for a while
  • don't worry about returns - consider it a bonus plan for employees that can read
  • add a wish-list to your book shelf
  • add a donation can to the shelf - to defray the cost of forgetful patrons
  • add a list of YouTube video links, and other resources on paper
  • add a general reading shelf - give-one & take-one shelf
  • don't forget the differenator between the library and the book store - comfortable sitting & coffee
  • see also: 
Here's a short list of Agile books to add to the library.

Or just buy any book on the Pragmatic Book Shelf.

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