In a recent post at Tame the Web, Michael Stephens writes that a group in his LIS701 class came up with a revision of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science.
For review, here are Ranganathan’s original laws:
1. Books are for use.
2. Every reader his book.
3. Every book its reader.
4. Save the time of the reader.
5. The Library is a growing organism.
…and here are the revised laws from the group in Michael Stephens’ LIS701 course:
1. Collections are for use.
2. Every collection its user.
3. Every user his collection.
4. Save time & energy of user.
5. The library is a growing organism.
I’m trying to figure out why their revisions leave me feeling so unsatisfied.
Perhaps it is because changing “book” to “collection” is too easy.
One might just as well change “book” to “resource” or “library” or “information object”, but this doesn’t really suggest any change other than the fact that books are no longer the only resource offered by libraries. It doesn’t help us adapt the ideals expressed by Ranganathan’s Five Laws to the realities of the present.
More challenging questions might be:
- “How do we interpret and apply these laws to the present?”
- “What changes in libraries and library science since 1931 (when S.R. Ranganathan first published his laws) present obstacles to running libraries in the spirit of Ranganathan’s laws? How might these obstacles be overcome?”
- “If you were asked to author policies for [insert favorite library service or department here], how would you write these policies in the spirit of Ranganathan’s laws?”
- “Review your institution’s Web site. Where does it fail to live up to Ranganathan’s Five Laws?”
- “You are a special librarian in an institution that is not primarily academic or a public library (e.g. hospital librarian, corporate librarian). Can all of Ranganathan’s laws be applied unaltered? Are there laws that can only be applied conditionally?”
Extra Credit Question: Write a poem about Colon Classification (or faceted classification generally) and contemporary web technology. Must have at least one attempted rhyme for “Ranganathan,” “Shiyali,” or “Ramamrita.”