A PMO library is a great resource. It is somewhere to store all your project management books and standards documents. If your PMO doesn’t have a library, have you thought about setting one up? Project team members interested in personal and professional development can borrow books. You can also keep reference copies of standards like A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fourth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2008, or the PRINCE2 reference guides, or any other standard or methodology books that you use.

Where to house your library

If your PMO has dedicated office space, consider putting aside a cupboard, shelf or drawer to store all the books. If you have the books out on display you are more likely to find that people will browse the shelves and pick one, which is a better use of the resource. However, it is not the end of the world if you have to store your library books away from the public eye. You can promote their existence in other ways. For example, you can list new additions in your PMO newsletter.

Checking books in and out

You can list all the books available on the PMO intranet site. You could also use a collaboration tool to list the available books and whether they are in or out. This site can be a great way to promote what’s available in the PMO library if you have project managers and other project staff working outside of the PMO space.

Who owns the process?

Someone has to take responsibility for issuing books and making sure they are returned. Issuing can either be done if someone physically comes to the PMO office and takes one, or via the internal mail or courier system. You don’t need a fancy library technology system to issue books. Just make a note of who has taken the book and what day they took it. Start a list, keep a notebook, or change the status on the intranet to reflect the fact that the book is no longer currently available.

Books for project management

The PMO Administrator or a junior project co-ordinator can run this process. It won’t be a large overhead.

Managing requests for new books

Once your PMO library is off the ground, people will start making suggestions about new books to add to the collection. You might want to get a group of people together each year – regular library users – and use a tool like iMindQ to record ideas for future purchases.

Remember to put aside some money each year in the PMO budget to buy new books. Management books can be expensive!

Paper or electronic?

Many people now have ebook readers like Kindle, Nook, Kobu, or apps that let them read ebooks on iPads, tablets or computers. You can’t deny that the popularity of ebooks is on the rise. However, ebooks are very difficult to share. For that reason, I would recommend that you stick with buying ‘real’ books – the paperback format is better as these are cheaper and normally smaller sizes. You should consider, though, that if a book is popular it could get quite damaged being carried around by multiple project team members over the course of several months. You might find it better in the long term to invest in hardback books as these will wear better and won’t need replacing so often.

At the end of the day, you’ll have to decide what books you have available to your PMO and project teams. Next week I’ll be looking at some suggestions to start stocking your PMO library.