As professionals, we understand and appreciate the need for continual professional development (CPD). Associations, training organizations, etc. exist to help facilitate this need. However, one of the most important aspects of a well-balanced approach to CPD is having access to a diversity of thought. We all know a professional or two who believe in the one method or tool or whatever that will “rule them all” (my apologies to Tolkien). The reality is that there is no one approach or solution to the broad range of challenges facing any single organization. There is no Silver Bullet that is going to solve 80% of problems your organization is dealing with, regardless of the hype presented during a training course or conference presentation. Professionals need to have a breadth of approaches, techniques, and understanding to help define a problem, analyze it as well as develop and test possible solution alternatives, etc., etc. Diversity of challenges requires access to a variety of knowledge and thought. The Forgetting Curve shows how information lost over time when there is no attempt to retain it. These challenges alone are a solid rationale for establishing and maintaining a professional reference library.
A professional reference library is more than a list of documents. Similarly, having access to the internet is excellent but insufficient. With the rise of the “Google Smart” individuals only being as informed as their internet connection is active, we see the need for professionals to maintain ready access to knowledge and resources. A professional reference library is a resource where an individual can deposit and reliably retrieve information. Technology today helps to support a greater diversity of materials in a more readily retrieved format. Mostly gone are the shelves and shelves of books in the office. Increasingly these resources can be retrieved from your portable device of choice. This resource is a place where you can: 1. Store previously reviewed and studied material for faster recall and use. 2. Parking of materials that you have not yet completely digested. If this sounds like it requires a bit of thought and time investment, you would be correct.
A reference library is no different a resource than the software tools, education, conferences, and professional associations you have invested. CPD resources organized into broad categorization, such as EA Patterns and Reference Models, Methodologies and Frameworks, Standards and Specifications, etc. helps to reduce time to research. Using meta-tags can also help to provide even faster indexing. The CPD is not just about documents but can also be a way to access great sites for up to date discussions, videos, and more. Services such a Google Stream, Dropbox, and others help to address cross-device access.
Setting aside the time to read and synthesize these resources is the most crucial aspect of a reference library. Synthesis of thoughts and writing of others that run counter to your own is perhaps the most significant opportunity for growth. Don’t just collect documents, but build a CPD of professional knowledge that goes beyond a couple of days seminar or that digital stack of slides. Visit the FEAC Institute EA Zone if you are looking for a quick start to building your professional reference library.