Ranganathan, Libraries, Faceted Search

118 years ago, on this day, S. R. Ranganathan was born. He made the 5 laws of Library Science. Maybe these laws are getting outdated with digitization, but the principles behind them should be transferred into the new ‘libraries’.

  1. Books are for Use: Ranganathan said that books aren’t meant for storage and safe-keeping. They are meant for use by the public because without use, they are worthless. Little more than paperweight. Digital libraries should also be made abundantly available and the users given the tools to use the information on offer.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book: Libraries should serve the community. They should store the books that each person in the community wants to read. Digital libraries, in much the same way, should look at what the users want from it and provide it accordingly. Also, they need to be more inclusive bringing in as much of the community as possible.
  3. Every book its reader: This is no longer an issue, since availability of information has far exceeded the demand for it.
  4. Save the time of the reader: In a way saving the time of the reader is what I’m most interested in. Ranganathan introduced possibly the first faceted search and classification system to store data with the Colon Classification. Its incredible to think of how far we have come in terms of classification of data. But yet how primitive our libraries still are in some ways.
  5. The library is a growing organism: The library should be able to grow as when the opportunity arises. So digitized libraries should technically be infinitely scalable. But by scalable, I don’t mean only in terms of storage, but also in terms of being able to extract information from it all effectively.

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