Has anyone ever started or managed a company library?
August 17, 2007 4:38 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever started or managed a company library?

I'm an administrator at a K-12 school district. Today I received a really good book as a gift from a vendor about cyberbullying in schools. While it might be available to order, I highly doubt you'd ever see it at Borders. After leafing through it I was stuck with the thought that it could be useful to other admins on our staff. Since emails with subjects like "Hey, you might enjoy this book" are generally considered spam I'm not sure how to make this book available as a resource.

I was then reminded of an idea I had about a year ago of starting a library for administrators in our district to share books about technology, curriculum, professional development, ect. These books are sometimes very expensive and not available in chain book stores. We're a very large district so extending such a library to teachers would be too much to take on (although a request for access would never be denied).

We already have a pretty liberal policy for reimbursing admins for books related to work so it shouldn't take long to build up a decent collection. However, this policy could also be a problem as admins now keep the books after reimbursement so some will not be happy about turning them over to the district. Personally, I think it's a win-win situation because we'll have access to great books and the taxpayers won't have to buy the same book twice so two people can read it. Luckily, making unpopular suggestions doesn't bother me in the slightest.

Does anyone have any experience with starting a company library or anything similar? I plan on making the suggestion to our superintendent on Monday so any recommendations or advice about potential pitfalls would be appreciated.
posted by bda1972 to Education (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I started a Media Library for an large Advertising Agency I used to work for, the major headaches would be time spent, you need to log each item in your library, probably with a small synopsis about each item, then a way to track who is in your lending system, and who has which item of your library at any given time, and a place to physically store all of your items.

Don't forget that most humans are forgetful beings so you need a way to remind them about the limits of borrowed items and a way to tell how long each individual has have had each item.
posted by kanemano at 5:13 PM on August 17, 2007

Any chance of reusing the infrastructure you likely already have in place for your school's regular library?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 5:47 PM on August 17, 2007

Any chance of reusing the infrastructure you likely already have in place for your school's regular library?

I thought about that as well, but it would need to be a place that all administrators regularly visit. We have 7 locations (each with their own library) and the administration building is where we host most meetings, job interviews, ect. so it's the logical location.
posted by bda1972 at 6:17 PM on August 17, 2007

How about using a LibraryThing group to catalog the books, and one of the third party ancillary services they support to handle book sharing?
posted by Toekneesan at 6:39 PM on August 17, 2007

My academic department has a library of around 2,000 specialized volumes available to graduate students and instructors. Items records are kept in a very simple Access/ColdFusion database we designed and maintain ourselves. One can physically browse the library or electronically browse and then email a request for an item. Lending period is 1 month and we use old paper lending cards to keep track. If you don't have the technical skill in house to do the database, I bet a case could be made to your local university (perhaps the Education school or one associated with secondary ed content prep) to do it as a service learning project.
posted by mrmojoflying at 6:52 PM on August 17, 2007

I work in research and everywhere I've ever worked has maintained an Endnote (or similar) database on a central server. It has the relevant info on the books and papers and the location (ie, 3rd shelf, Matt's office or Building 1 library). In theory, when you get a new reference or move one you are supposed to enter it/change the location tab within a reasonable time. In practice it needs a good shakedown every couple years but is still workable.
posted by fshgrl at 6:55 PM on August 17, 2007

Koha (http://www.koha.org/) is a well regarded open-source package (read: free!, although getting someone to install it and set it up for you is not free, but something your district's IT staff should be able to handle) for library management, specifically cataloging and circulation. It's likely to be easier to use Koha than to develop a system yourself, and it means that administrators and teachers can browse your collection over the internet rather than making a special trip.
posted by zachlipton at 11:11 PM on August 17, 2007

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