Organising Your Home Library

The American politician and educational reformer Horace Mann once said “a home without books is like a room without windows.” And it’s true. Literacy is one of the blessings of Western civilisation – and all civilisations, as a matter of fact. I always like looking at people’s books when visiting (scanning the titles, I mean, not getting them out and having a read), as this gives a glimpse into what people are interested in. Your own home library is a bit more daunting. How do you organise it? How do you avoid the all too common problem of spending ages scanning a row of spines looking for one particular title without having a clue which shelf it is on – and probably missing the title in the first pass over the shelves. Start the process of looking at the shelves. A common mistake is to buy a bookshelf that has many rows of shelves but these shelves are only big enough to accommodate paperbacks.

If you try to start a filing system for your home library with small shelves, your system will be sent into chaos by books that are too big to fit in the shelves.Get a generous set of shelves capable of taking A4 portrait sized books, as this will hold most books, and have one separate place for “outsized” books – usually atlases. Now take all the books you own and start sorting them into piles.Resist all temptation to start reading them – a hard ask. Having a friend on-hand to keep you focussed helps.

I know they look impressive all lined up in order, but you aren’t fooling anyone into thinking you’re a well-read intellectual just by having all the titles there nicely lined up and pristine.Everyone knows that you can buy these “classic titles” in bulk. It’s more impressive if you have well-thumbed copies. The first step when sorting books is to get rid of what you don’t read, never will read and can’t face the prospect of reading

Literacy: The Missing Link for Productivity

You have invested in the latest manufacturing technology and pride yourself on the training you offer your management team but productivity remains sluggish. The missing link may be workforce literacy. The best technology and management skills in the world will not improve productivity unless literacy where it matters is also addressed. Despite a workforce where almost everyone can read and write, low levels of workplace literacy and numeracy are a major but under recognized problem. This is because literacy is not simply about being able to read and write. Workplace literacy is the ability to participate effectively in workplace practices and to communicate, critically analyse and do maths at a level relevant to continually changing demands at work.

The gap between the level of literacy skills required for productivity and performance improvement and the actual skills of many in the work places far larger than Government or business action to date would suggest. Over 40% of our workforce has levels of literacy and numeracy that in many cases are insufficient to allow them to do their job properly or to keep up with changing workplace tasks. Improbable as the 40% figure may seem it comes from in- depth surveys of adult literacy. Employees in a position to contribute ideas to improve processes and to see at first hand when systems are failing often do not have the specific technical vocabulary and confidence to be able to communicate and make themselves understood. So they prefer not to try.

Often the literary and numeracy skills needed are not identified as crucial work skills and the gap between the job and the employee’s skills is never clarified. Importantly the literacy training undertaken to address that gap needs to be job specific. Adults are best able to develop literacy skills in a meaningful authentic context. For the workforce, that context is the workplace or industry.