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Thursday, 3 November 2016



Kwame Agyei Dankwah, Ho – Ghana

Ranganathan has been a celebrated personality in the field of library and information sciences. Indeed, he was a great philosopher who could see library science today from his days. Among the many works that he did, the particular one that catches my attention this morning even as I sit and doze off behind my laptop is his proposition of the five laws of library sciences. These laws have been able to stand the test of time and their relevance in today’s library practice and theory can never be underestimated.

Accordingly, Ranganathan stipulates the following laws as the principal guideline for librarianship:
·         Books are for use.
·         Every reader his [or her] book.
·         Every book its reader.
·         Save the time of the User.
·         The library is a growing organism.

Many established laws and principles have had to go through various stages of revision in order to remain relevant solely because of the advent of technology. However, these laws of Ranganathan are still relevant in these periods regardless the numerous inventions and innovations.

There is no doubt that books are for use. Thus, regardless the nature of the information sources, it is still relevant to serve the needs of humanity. Journal articles, reference materials, monographs, gallery, and any other material one can think of have an unquantifiable value to the user. As a result, nobody including library managers, nor users should dare to put censorship on any material. This is because these materials in one way or the other have a role to play in serving humanity.

To add more weight to the above explained law, Ranganathan continues to state the second law: every reader, his/her book. Thus, we should endeavour to respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated. This point is imperative especially in these days where technology seems to drive the acquisitions objective of most libraries. It is good we acquire digital and electronic materials; we should undertake such initiatives after we have considered our userss background. Whereas most users may be interested in the electronic resources, we should also be cognisant of the few who cannot exploit these resources.

In as much as we agree all information resources have their users, we must also establish that every user has his/his or interest. In this vein, librarians and information professionals should try and use technology intelligently to enhance their services. The utilisation of technology can lead to the benefit of both the library and its users. Technology usage has always in long run led to effective use of limited library budget. Hey, we should not forget we are in the age of OPEEEEEEN: open science, open access and more opens.

Does any librarian need to be told this? Saving the time of the user. Every library professional has at the back of the mind to provide the right information to the right user at the right time. Wasting a patron’s time in this era is an act that cannot be forgiven. There are many technologies available to aid the librarian in performing his job effectively and efficiently. This calls for information professionals to abreast themselves of new technologies in order to serve their users better.

The library has always been a growing organism. This growth encompasses the growth in the collections’ strength, the growth in infrastructure, the growth in technology, the growth in services, the growth in users, the growth in users’ needs and the growth in knowledge. The library will continue to grow. Hence, professionals should be ready to grow too. If the library grows “older” than you, then you will find it difficult managing the “old woman”. Let us grow ahead of the library in order to manage it better.

These laws should never be considered in vacuum. We should incorporate these laws in our marketing plans, acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation and reference services. Let us honour the past and create the future.