Build a Library

Libraries foster organizational resilience. A good library uncovers best practices, clarifies roles and routines, increases flexibility and consistency, and creates a culture of continual improvement.

Libraries can contain:

  • Process documentation
  • Lore
  • Project archives
  • Past Communication
  • Legal documents
  • Transaction history

A good library is easily accessible, easy to edit, and mirrors how the work actually gets done. It should include best practices for every process and procedure of the organization, as well as lore, transaction records, and training and technical documents.

Libraries work best when they are worker driven. Use Gemba Sessions and interviews to uncover what your workers know, document best practices, and use the library to disseminate this info across the entire work force.

Libraries require users, contributors, and librarians. These roles can and should overlap.

Without users - workers and other stakeholders - who regularly access them, libraries become irrelevant.

Without contributors - who create the material contained within - libraries offer little value to users.

And without librarians - who manage and organize information - libraries are irrelevant to users and cease to support organizational goals.

Librarians are the thin red line between civilization and barbarism.” - Neil Gaiman


Few organizations need a full-time librarian. Instead, recruit the enthusiastic from within to manage the systems the library is built with, and the information it contains.

Good librarians convert users into contributors by collecting and collating work knowledge from as many members of the workforce as possible. In the process, they develop a culture of continual improvement. More on this in How to Write Process.

Invest in your library, and your organization will thrive.

The Code of Ethics of the American Library Association provides the gold standard for how to manage a library.


5 Habits of Healthy Organizations

  1. Work Slow
  2. Build a Library
  3. Respect the Cook
  4. Shake Out the Rug
  5. Share the Spoils

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