GeneralLibrary Science

Five Laws of Library Science by Ranganathan

The Five Laws Of Library Science:

Dr. Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan formulated in 1928, the five laws of Library Science. These were published in a book in 1931. The laws of Library Science are as follows:

  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. Library is a growing organism.

These laws were emanated from his intense involvement in all aspects of Library Science, wide experience, deep study and thinking. The essence and implications of these laws are now discussed:Library

1. Books are for use: In this case the term ‘book’ should be interpreted broadly to stand document. Recognition of this law helps in removing restriction on the use of book, i.e. making library service free from universal. The aim of library is to ensure maximum use of reading materials. The first law is to be achieved through the following factors:

  • Services, usages and accessibility: The greatness of a library is determined not only by the richness of its collection but by its services, usages and accessibility. A few book kept in constant and extensive use is more valuable than thousands of book kept in palatial building. The Library schedule must be convenient to the reader. The large Library should open their door to the readers on holidays for sometimes.
  • Publicity: The librarian should give fair publicity about the services offered by his/her library. He/ She should always publicize add new addition to the library so as to inform his/her clientele to what new materials has been acquired. Latest arrival should be displayed.
  • Building: The library building should be attracting. Exterior should be inviting and interior should be well organized and decoration such a way so that it could fascinate the readers or users. There should be proper lighting and ventilation, illustration on the wall, colored wall, neat and clean environment, soundless room encourages the readers to study or read more and more times.
  • Equipment: The library equipment’s should be neat and attractive. The book-racks should not so high. The reading room should be attractive and the chairs and tables should be suitable for continuous reading.
  • Open access: Access to the library shelf should be unrestricted so that the readers can go to the shelves and pick out the book most suitable.
  • Co-operation of library staff: Staff should be congenial towards the readers and should always be ready to help the readers.


2. Every reader his or her books: The second law emphasizes in greater detail the implication of first law as viewed from the side of readers. The service library should amplify the users demand and enhance the utility of book usage. The librarian should extend the book usage through superfluous books. The second law is to achieved by the following factors:

Library 2

  • Book for all: Book should be for every type of readers irrespectively of age, sex, race, caste, religion, etc.
  • Book selection: The second law not only emphasizes selection of books for the normal people but also for the physical handicapped one. Book has also to take care for new-literate.
  • Inter-Library loan: The entire book resources of a country can be made available through the inter-library co-operation.
  • Catalogue or analytical entries: Book of composite and complex nature should be explained fully to readers by catalogue or subject analytical entries.
  • Open access: In open access books should be kept in open shelves so that the user could easily handle the book whenever he needs it.

3. Every Books its reader: The third law ‘Every book its reader’ point out the ultimately the book is meant for reader and not for filing stack room. It relates to the finding out for every book in the library. Books cannot reach the hands of the readers by their own accord so it is the duty of the librarian to bring the readers into contact with the books. The third law is to be achieved by the following factors:

  • Proper cataloguing: Proper cataloguing can also help in the use of books. A classified catalogue with analytical entries for all the hidden subjects in a book will go a long way in this direction.
  • Book selection: Book selection should be for all users. Books which are not likely to be demanded by readers should not be selected for procurement.
  • Publicity: The librarian should take care to draw the attention of the readers to those valuable books which lie unused and uncared for long period. Besides he must give prompt publicity to new arrivals of books. This could be done by inserting a notification in the press or by periodical circulars, notices and display, etc.
  • Open access: Open access of Bookshelves can also help a lot in this respect.


4. Save the time of the readers: Books should be made available to the readers without delay. This is the law which really puts to test the efficiency of the library. The methods of classification, cataloguing, issuing of books, proper shelving of books etc, all play an important role in saving the time of the reader. This law is to be achieved by the following factors:

  • Classification: Books should be classified as quickly as possible after accessioning so that the books go to the shelves without any time lag. Effort should be made to make the book available to the readers within a week of its arrival.
  • Cataloguing: This catalogue should be done systematically so that the readers can pick out what he wants. A classified catalogue will be found more useful than a dictionary catalogue, practically in special and academic libraries. But dictionary catalogue is more useful in public library.
  • Changing methods: The methods of issuing books and receiving them when returned should be such a way, that reader does not have to spend much time at the changing or discharging counter. Newark or Browne method can be widely used in the library.
  • Shelving: The book should be so arranged on the shelves that not onlycan they be found out easily but the reader interested in a particular subjectshould be able to find them together.
  • Open access: Open access saves not only the time of the reader but saves librarians also a lot of work.


5. Library is a growing organism: Library is an ever expending organization. The growth is of three kinds and they are as follows:

  • Growth in the size: Every library grows in size with the acquisition of new materials. A newly started library has to grow in size rapidly because to serve its clientele. Unlimited growth creates many problems. The most serious being the finding of adequate space and staff. Effort should therefore be made to control the unlimited growth in size by continuously weeding out old and on longer wanted books.
  • Growth in the number of reader: The growth in the number of reader shows how popular is the library and how well it is serving its clientele. Growth in membership does not depend merely on the numbers of books available in the library but chiefly on the services offered by the library.
  • Growth in staff: With the growth in size and growth in membership there has to be corresponding growth in the staff. Efficiency of library service can be maintained only if there is adequate staff.


The librarian who would like to flourish his career and to be a successful librarian must keep the five laws of Library Science in his mind. And the librarian who wants to maintain his library service-fully must have to apply these laws in his/her library. These five laws may be considered as the main motto of library science.



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