To begin, I want to list Raganathan’s five laws and give a sentence about each for those readers who aren’t familiar with them (as well as to prove to my professor that, indeed, I was listening in class even though I may have looked sheepish). The first is books are for use, this simply means that books should be accessible for all patrons of all social classes, cultures and genders. Every reader his/her book, this is the second law and, to summarize, means all different people have varying interests and therefore the library and information professionals should be aware of their demographic when purchasing items for their collection. The third law is very similar to the second: every book its reader, which translates to keeping books even though they may not satisfy the entire community, or even the majority, but if they are being used and being showed interest they should be kept in the collection. The fourth law, save the time of the reader, is almost self- explanatory but can be boiled down to being efficient; a library and information professional should be organized and their library should be orderly to make it easy for the patron to find what they are looking for. Last but not least, the library is a growing organism, this law was never more applicable than it is now. It means that as the technology, population and collection evolve, the library and its staff need to evolve with it to keep up to date. Those are Ranganathan’s five laws, and now I can delve deeper into whether I believe they are being used by the modern library and information professionals I have had the pleasure of meeting.
When I imagine library and information professionals in the workplace today, I definitely believe that Ranganathan’s laws should be applied to every aspect of their job though, pessimistically, I do not believe it possible that every one of them apply them all flawlessly. Some of the laws are easier to apply than others, for example, I don’t think there are many librarians in Canada that chain their books to the shelves (which would break law one) while others are more difficult, such as ensuring you carry books to satisfy even the most obscure tastes of a patron. I’d like to think, however, that even though every enquiry may not be met with a perfect answer, the library and information professionals of today do all they can.
As I read through the laws for the second time while lying in bed without the chatter of my classmates around me, I made notes on each and realized that these five simple laws (that seem almost too simple, their almost elementary) really do cover everything a library today should be. And, furthermore, as I was contemplating the different public and academic libraries I have visited in my lifetime, I am happy to say that the half dozen or so that I have visited did, in fact, seem to follow these laws to the best of their ability. The collections were accessible, my needs were always met, and the staff were always helpful if I only asked for help. So, finally, I have come to a conclusion that yes, I believe that these laws do represent the philosophy of library and information professionals today.