I’m dismantling a corporate library for the second time in my life. I am working at the Design Council as interim CDO these days and we’re moving office which means dealing with our 20+ years institutional library. If books could talk, these ones would tell you about all the design competitions happening around the world in the early 2000s, the bad management books that were written in the 1990s, the early days of service design, the history of London’s top branding agencies, the history of bridge building in the 1970s and the architectural history of London through the ages.
We’re not getting rid of it all and colleagues and I have gone through all of them to pick out what most excites us today: the climate emergency. Those books also span the decades, illustrating perfectly the need for a collective kick up the backside. We know what the problems and the solutions are. We just haven’t needed to deploy them until now, at the 11th hour. Those books will act as a First Aid kit now as opposed to a survival kit.
It can feel strange to let books go, but it’s also good for our team of 40 who are getting to know each other. Not being surrounded by too much institutional knowledge lets you decide what’s important to you now and not what used to be important to us 20 years ago. It free us a little.