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Ranganathan's relevance in the 21st century

McMenemy, D. (2007) Ranganathan's relevance in the 21st century. Library Review, 56 (2). pp. 97-101. ISSN 0024-2535

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Abstract

S.R. Ranganathan had yet to publish his Five Laws of Library Science when this journal began its life 80 years ago, however in any period where one is reflecting on the history of a journal focused on library science it would be remiss not to focus on the five laws that have inspired our profession for almost the same period. Yet I have to confess to being one of those librarians who, having gained my Masters in the mid 1990s, was given very little exposure to the teachings of S.R. Ranganathan. Of course having worked in a large library for many years before qualifying professionally I was aware of his name, especially from the more mature librarians who held his creed close to their professional hearts. I also knew of his five laws, but I had never really studied them closely, nor had occasion to read any of his wider writings on librarianship. More importantly the dated language in Ranganathan's Five Laws was off-putting to me, and as such I had neither occasion nor great desire to reflect on them in my early career. Perhaps this was because I met several librarians who used the language used by Ranganathan to reinforce their own prejudices that we should focus our energies on books and ignore new technologies. Faced with this mindset from some colleagues I asked myself what exactly the five laws offered the librarian in the 21st century.