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Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science

December 11, 2015

This is a post I can’t believe I didn’t make in my first week of library school, when I was plunged into the context and theory of what makes a library and a librarian.

Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science are excellent governing principles. These rules help to check whether your library’s policies: collection decisions, formats, program offerings, advisory and reference are open enough, how the library is moving forward.

1. Books are for use.

2. Every reader his (or her) book.

3. Every book its reader.

4. Save the time of the reader.

5. The library is a growing organism.

For those wondering who the heck this Ranganathan guy was: S.R. Ranganathan (1892-1972) did work on classification and library science that laid the foundation for more familiar cataloging systems like the Dewey Decimal System. (Melvil Dewey was a bit of a nutjob, but that’s a side issue.)

No matter how busy my library shift gets, how much tech support or cataloging or finicky little details pull at my day, these five laws are/should be the ideal that’s guiding me. Books are for use: my job is to make sure books and readers (or devices and users) get connected, and that I keep learning so that the library keeps evolving and being lively.

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