August 31, 2009

A Good Laugh

I often quote from Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science. Here they are, in case you haven't committed them to memory:
  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the User.
  5. The library is a growing organism.
What's great is that S.R. Ranganathan was an Indian librarian (often called the father of library science in India) who published these laws in 1931 -- and they are still relevant today, half a world away. The Laws are particularly valid if you substitute another library-themed word for "books," such as databases or information. While teaching reference, I often exhorted my students to "Save the time of the User" by knowing their collection and knowing how to interview patrons to find out what they really wanted. In my new position at UNC's Park Library of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, I find myself saying "Books are for use" as we begin to circulate our books.

How is this funny? So far, it isn't. But fellow librarian Steve Lawson (check out his great blog, See Also) has created a Classics of Librarianship Mad Lib. In it you can add your own nouns and a verb or two to generate Your Own Five Laws of Whatever, consistent in form with Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science.

Browse some of the Laws, or generate your own with his Mad Lib machine. I am chuckling enormously, feeling about as silly as I did when I first created Mad Libs back in 6th grade. It's nice to combine librarianship with 6th-grade silly.

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