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Five Laws of Library Science


The  Five Laws of Library Science is a theory that Dr.S.R.Ranganathan presented for the first time in 1928 at a conference held in the Meenakshi College, Annamalainagar. These laws were first published in Ranganathan’s book entitled Five Laws of Library Science in 1931. He is regarded as the father of Library Science in India. He played a key role in the development of the Library movement.

  1. Books are for Use
  2. Every Reader his/her book
  3. Every Book its reader
  4. Save the Time of the Reader
  5. A library is a growing Organism

Books are for Use

This is the First Law of Library Science. In History, you get to see that books were kept as showpieces. Now also people use books for decoration purposes. Ranganathan said that books are not to be kept on shelves closed or in a chain, rather They should be used more and more. Previously more stress was given on storage. He agreed that storage and preservation were issues that could not be neglected but He propagated that it should be open for user’s access. He gave few suggestions to promote the use of books. This is one of the five laws of library science which promotes the reading of books for all.

Library Location is very important in the context of First law. It should be in proximity of users. It should not be too far. If it is a public library then it should be in the middle of the city. In the same way, if it is a school, college, or university library then it should be in the midst of campus so that students can easily reach the library. The Library should not be near the main road as traffic noise will create problems for users.

Library Timing is another factor that will help users to use the books in Libraries. The Timing should be flexible enough so that with their regular classes, they can visit the library and get the books issued. If it is a public library then the timing should suit the general people. In the evening, office going and students are free and they can visit the library. So Timing plays important role in getting books used in Libraries. In hostels also evening timing is suitable for students.

The Library has an open and closed access system. The close access system is where users go to the counter and demand books. The books are issued to them. But if that book is issued then users return empty hand. But In the open-access system, the user gets some other books issued if that book is not available. He has the option to see which other books are available. So In this way books are used more in open access system.

The Library should be well ventilated so that users don’t get tired. The shelf should be of general height so that users can easily get books from the shelf. The shelf should not be closed. The chairs should be comfortable enough to sit for longer periods. There should be proper lighting. These facilities attract users to the library, Thus more and more books are being used.

The Library Staff helps users in getting required documents. His behavior should be good so that users can approach him for the documents. In this way, the users get the solution to their problems.

Every Reader his/her book.

The Second Law of Library Science states that Every Reader his/her Book. Ranganathan meant that the Reader may be a school, college, and university student. He may be a retired old man, a researcher, a worker, unemployed youth, etc. So the books should be available for all age groups. This is one of the five laws of library science which states that every reader gets his book after visiting the library.

The Reader may be of Science, Humanities, or Commerce background. The reader wants to read books for leisure and so he needs books for relaxation. So the books selected by librarian should cater the needs of all the readers. Librarians should respect the readers’ choices.

The Books should be procured by Librarian in some regional languages other than English. English is the international language and so most books are available in English. But at the same time, some readers are comfortable in regional language books. In this way all the readers will get to read the books of their choice.

Public Libraries should open in every city so that local people get to access the library. They are updated in this way. Government should take initiative in opening public libraries and contribute to the development of society. A well-informed reader is an asset to society.

Every Book its Reader

The Third Law states that Every Book its Reader. Ranganathan said that the books selected for the library should fetch its readers. The Librarian should take enough time and analysis before purchasing library materials. As you know the Library has very little budget, especially school, college, and public libraries. So funds should be properly utilized. This is one of the five laws of library science which states that every book in the library should get its reader.

The books which are being purchased for the first time should be procured in less number. If that book is being used satisfactorily then we can increase more books of that title. Sometimes Teachers recommend that books which are being written by him, in large quantity. But later we find that books do not cover all the syllabus and thus readers don’t use that book.

The Books should be kept on open shelves and then only readers will reach shelves and get the books. The Catalogue should be prepared so that users get to know about all the books available in that library.

The Books should be Classified according to subjects and a Call Number is given on every book, which helps the user in reaching the shelves after searching that book in the catalog. The Catalogue locates that book. These Catalogue cabinets or Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) terminal should be kept at the entrance of the Library.

Reference Librarian guides the user about different books according to their requirement. He recommends specific books to users.

New Arrival List should be put on Library Notice Board or sent to user’s email. Then the only the user will reach the library to get that book, which is recently procured.

Bibliography plays important role in getting books, as it is compiled according to topics and subjects. This makes easy for the user to get lots of books on a particular topic.

Extension Services also helps in getting the books to readers. This is a remote service. The books are kept in the van and go to remote places where users issue the books. It is generally a weekly service. It is also called Mobile Library.

Save the Time of the Reader

The Fourth Law states “Save the Time of the Reader”. Ranganathan clearly says that the User’s Time is Precious. He visits Library for his requirement. He needs books for getting knowledge and for his studies. He needs books for examination, which may happen in the coming days. So In this situation, users are under stress, and if we Librarian should help him in getting his required book easily. The users get annoyed if kept waiting for a longer period. This is one of the five laws of library science which gives stress on saving time.

The Library should have Open access system, where users easily go to shelves and find the required books. If the required book is issued, he may get related books. The users are aware of the shelves as they constantly visit the shelves of their subjects.

Again I would like to say that Cataloguing and Classification play a great role in organizing library study materials. In this way users independently find the required books after using the catalog. These days OPAC Online catalog is a boon for users.it helps them retrieving the books through different searching options in very little time.

RFID facility helps users to self-check-in and self-checkout the books. I mean issue and return of books are easily done by users, without wasting their time. Nowadays Library is open 24 Hour, thus giving enough time to visit the library at their convenience.

Again according to this law, the Library should be in the middle of the city or institution. We can say the Library location should be in the heart of the institution or City. It will be convenient for users, in reaching the library without wasting time.

Reference Librarians should guide the users. Library Guides should be available for users. Subject tags should be put on every shelf so that users can easily locate the books.

Library is a growing Organism

The fifth Law of Library Science states that the Library is a growing organism. It means that every organism grows. In the same way, the Library grows in the collection and in size also. This is one of the five laws of library science which states that libraries will grow gradually with time.

Readers are growing with time. More and more students are enrolling and so readers number is increasing. They have different requirements. For satisfying their needs we have to procure more library materials. This leads to an increase in the collection.

The Library collection grows with time. There is an information explosion. Publications are done rapidly. New Subjects are emerging due to research in every field. The Journals’ Collection is an important part of the Library and so its collection is growing very fast. So due to collections, we have shift to new big buildings to accommodate huge collection of library.it is necessary and every library has to go through these phases.

Then you need more library staff to deal with more readers and huge collection which will keep growing with the time.

Thus these Five Laws of Library Science have improved Library services and keep improving in the future. It is still prevalent after the advent of new technology.

Variants of Five Laws of Library Science

Michael Gorman in 1998, ex- president of American Library Association (ALA), recommended the following laws:

  1. Libraries serve humanity.
  2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated.
  3. Use technology intelligently to enhance service.
  4. Protect free access to knowledge.
  5. Honor the past and create the future.

Alireza Noruzi in 2004, Librarian by profession, recommended the application of Ranganathan’s Five laws of library science to the Web:

  1. Web resources are for use.
  2. Every user has his or her web resource.
  3. Every web resource its user.
  4. Save the time of the user.
  5. The Web is a growing organism.

Librarian Carol Simpson in 2008, recommended the following edits to Ranganathan’s five laws of library science in context of media:

  1. Media are for use.
  2. Every patron his information.
  3. Every medium its user.
  4. Save the time of the patron.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

B. Shadrach in 2015,  proposed an alternative law, adapted at the 2015 Indian Public Libraries Conference in New Delhi:

  1. Knowledge is for use in all forms.
  2. Every citizen has the right to access all knowledge in all forms.
  3. Every piece of knowledge is for access by all without discrimination of any kind.
  4. Save the time of all of the knowledge seekers.
  5. A library or a knowledge system is one that evolves with time to achieve all of the above laws

 Dr. Achala Munigal in 2016 recommended the laws in context of application of social tools in libraries:

  1. Social Media is for use – increasingly in libraries by librarians.
  2. Every user his or her Social Tool.
  3. Every Social Tool its user.
  4. Save time of user by providing information he or she seeks using the social tool he or she is familiar with.
  5. Social Media is a growing organism, with various tools and apps being introduced every day. Libraries are not brick and stone anymore. They serve members and non-members alike in terms of non-traditional library service, irrespective of space and time.

The above thinkers recommended these laws in addition to Dr.S.R.Ranganthan Five Laws of Library Science. Some wanted to edit these laws. But they have developed these different variants of laws which seems to be right in their context.

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