I don't know what your childhood was like, but we didn't have much money. We'd go to a movie on a Saturday night, then on Wednesday night my parents would walk us over to the library. It was such a big deal, to go in and get my own book.
- Robert Redford
Public libraries? You've got to be joking! Does anyone even remember them?
And what's your memory of them? Walking into some musty smelling building and sitting yourself down at an old, beat up wooden table, on a big, heavy, hard wooden chair, and then realizing you had to get busy because the place was only going to be open another 45 minutes? Or maybe, actually braving the aisles of dirty, worn out linoleum, looking for some grubby, yellowing plastic jacket covered book that was supposed to be there, yet turned out not actually on the shelf, and, then, wait, here comes the real fun, you then got to stand in line behind a fifth grader returning and paying a thirty cents fine on his overdue sociology book (with two dimes and ten pennies, which he counted out, twice, before the transaction was completed), just so you could then ask the librarian to help you search for this book which you're not really even sure of the title? OMG. And then, on top of that, now you've got about 300+ pages of stuff to go through, one page at a time? Oh, jeeze, you've got to be kidding me, what's up with that! And what a lot of work!
And that's exactly why I like libraries. And the people who use them.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting someone just entering the domestic service industry and she, like most newcomers trying to navigate through the maze of what to do, is now in that mode of debating whether to drop $400 on a table-setting workshop, or go really big and spend her entire $15,000 life savings on an 8-week certificate. I suggested that she, first, go to the library and read a book.
Trainers have to earn a living, I get it. I'm not a certificate hater, and the truth be told, I attended a domestic industry school myself. Looking back, though, it was kind of funny, because I was employed at the time as a butler, and by all accounts was doing my job sufficiently well. But, I just wanted to see if I was missing anything and even more than that, I wanted to pay someone to tell me what I was missing. And at the time, it seemed the efficient thing to do. But, looking back, I don't recall myself expending a lot of effort.
I have no studies or research to back me up on this, but I think that effort has a strong correlation to success, and I think that people know effort when they see it. Notice I said correlation, not causation, becauase lots of people put forth enormous amounts of effort to improve themselves, yet still never get hired due to a variety of factors, many of them unfair and nonsensical. But I can tell you this much: when I interview someone, the first thing I look for is effort. If I know that someone has actually sat themselves down at a hard wooden table and endured the not-so-insubstantial effort of actually reading entire books, of educating themselves by taking the road less traveled (the one that never has a side table in the room filled with coffee and donuts), I sit up and take notice.
To that end, here's where I now quieten down, so you can get some reading done. For the full list, see the Good Citizen Reading List sidebar on the right, but here's my top four favorites to begin the journey:
Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook
How To Be The Employee Your Company Can't Live Without
The No Asshole Rule