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whitesmith.co

Book Club, Vol.1

Gonçalo Louzada

Hi everyone, I'm Gonçalo and I'm the unofficial Whitesmith Librarian. Fancy :) Going back a bit, it all started in 2015, when we made 100$/month available for any Whitesmithian to buy Kindle books. We believe the way to progress and get closer to our medium-term vision is enabling our team the ability to learn more and more. Best yet, it doesn't have to be a tech book. You can learn about privacy issues from "1984", for example.

The fact that people can buy books won't make them actually buy books. Money alone isn't the answer, this is a cultural issue and thus we can only do it by gathering everyone around a common goal.

So, since nothing works by itself, we defined a small set of good practices when buying books and let everyone enjoy this gift. But...

Whitesmithians weren't taking advantage of this as we expected. In fact, very few books were bought, by even fewer Whitesmithians. So in April 2016 we decided to step up the game: add an extra 200$ to buy physical books, as many pointed that reading digitally wasn't their thing (me included). And...

...here we go again: for the last 6 months, we've been having circa 300$/month for books. Pretty neat, uh? Well, this is not enough.

The fact that people can buy books won't make them actually buy & read books. Money alone isn't the answer, this is a cultural issue and thus we can only do it by gathering everyone around a common goal.

We questioned ourselves: what could we do to instigate learning through reading? Enter the Whitesmith Book Club. Although this isn't the traditional book club (we don't select one book, so everyone reads it and by the end we discuss it), now every Whitesmithian knows that by the first Monday of each month, we gather around (with a hangouts call #remote-first) and talk about what each one's been reading, what are the core topics discussed and why/when someone should read it. Or shouldn't.

Also, we started using Shelf (made by another Portuguese team called Subvisual) to keep track of the books we own, who's reading which, for how long, and rate each book. They were kind and opened an API so we can post reading metrics to our #biblioteqa Slack channel, which is our culture channel. How cool is this?

Our shelf
Our shelf

At the first Book Club meeting (September) we had 6 people, in the second (October) we had 10, and today I had people shouting "Louzada, I'm finishing a book, I'm going to speak about it on Book Club". \o/

The challenge now is:

  • gather metrics about the reading habits
  • get people more and more motivated to read and learn
  • keep having fun doing this!

Hope to be back here 6 months from now and have numbers to analyse this effort we're making. So far, it's been super fun and already having a huge impact on my life.

Do you have any thoughts to add? Leave a shout and help us improve this process!


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Gonçalo Louzada
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