Last week I wrote about the benefits of having a PMO library and some tips for setting one up. Today I want to consider what sort of books you should have in the library. If the aim is to encourage project managers and project team members to improve their skills through further professional development, then it goes without saying that you won't have novels in the library! Focus on professional, career, and project management books. Here are some examples to get you started.

Your PMO standards

Workhorse books

The first set of books in your library should be the 'workhorse' books. These are reference texts. Project managers may have their own copies, but project team members or even project managers may want to borrow them from time to time to check something. Here are some examples:

  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK Guide) - Fourth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2008.
  • Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2: 2009 edition and Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2: 2009 edition.
  • Books or guides about how to use your project management software.

If you have an in-house methodology, include copies of that as well.

Exam preparation books

Books for exam preparation

If your career planning for project managers and team members includes taking exams, you could include a section in the library for books to help.

There are a number of PMP study guides, for example, that you could stock. Ask people who have already taken exams to suggest their favourite prep books. You could also extend your library selection to other exam prep materials like videos, audio CDs or a collection of podcasts.

Project Leadership books

Project leadership is a hot topic this year. For many project managers looking to develop their skills, project leadership is the way to go. A personal recommendation here is Leadership Principles for Project Success by Thomas Juli. I'm sure you will find a number of project leadership books tailored to your industry or sector as this is a growing area and there are now more leadership resources available.

Books by authors

We are an industrious group of writers here at As well as writing articles here, we also have several books between us. These would also make a good addition to your PMO library. Regular contributor Brad Egeland is working on two books: RealPM: A Hybrid PM Methodology for Real Life IT Project Management and Project Management for the Masses. You can read more about those on his personal website here. Peter Taylor, who has contributed to this blog in the past, is also a fearsome author and has a number of books to his name. Check out his titles:

  • The Lazy Project Manager
  • The Lazy Winner
  • The Lazy Project Manager and The Project from Hell
  • Leading Successful PMOs

These are available on his website or other online bookshops. I also have books that I think would make a good addition to your PMO library. Project Management in the Real World was my first book, which includes practical case studies and tips for doing things better. Social Media for Project Managers came out in 2010 and is a non-tool specific guide to using social media on your projects for better communication and collaboration. My latest books, Customer-Centric Project Management, will be out later in the year.

Choosing new books

Choosing new books

This set of suggestions is fine to get you started, but what about when it comes to choosing new books for the library? The PMO administrator or the person who is managing the check in/check out process will have a good idea of what is popular. You can also get a group of project managers together and ask them what they would like to read. Use a tool like iMindQ to capture all their suggestions and group them into topics. You could also invite people who have never borrowed a book to try to establish why that is and what you could stock that would attract them to start using the library. Good luck with your library project and let us know how you get on!