Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan (1892-1972) was considered the father of library science in India. He developed what has been widely accepted as the definitive statement of ideal library service. His “Five Laws of Library Science” (1931) is a classic of library science literature, as fresh today as it was in 1931. These brief statements remain as valid, in substance if not in expression, today as when they were promulgated, concisely representing the ideal service and organizational philosophy of most libraries today:
- Books are for use.
- Every reader his or her book.
- Every book its reader.
- Save the time of the reader.
- The library is a growing organism.
We here at the Wheat Law Library believe that the Five Law of Library Science apply as much to the law library today as they did to Ranganathan’s libraries in 1931. Granted, with the advancement of technology, these laws need a bit of updating. So here I would like to propose…
Wheat Law Library’s Five Laws of the Law Library
1) Books and databases are for use.
All of our books are available for anyone to use. Not every piece can be checked out, but we do have copy machines and we are even willing to scan material and send it wherever it needs to go.
This holds true with electronic databases to a certain extent. Many of our databases may be accessed by the public. For those pieces that are not open to the public, we are happy to help you find alternatives or access those databases for you.
2) Every reader has his or her resource.
No matter which legal issue you are researching or task you are performing, there is a resource out there for you. Keeping this law in mind gives the law librarian drive to perform his or her duties.
3) Every resource has his or her reader.
Keeping every book on our shelf or subscribing to every single electronic database is simply not possible, but we do realize that ever single resource is needed by someone. This is why we offer inter-library loans as one of our services. If we don’t have it, we will find out who does.
4) Save time of the patron.
We are here to help you find what you need. Although we cannot answer your legal questions or write your memos, we can save you time by matching you up to the material you need to help you with your issue.
5) The law library is a growing organism.
We are constantly re-evaluating our services and materials. As new databases come out, we are on the front lines of reviewing for ease of use and relevancy of content. We keep up to date with the latest technologies, and we learn about our users and how best to serve them. The law library is not a static entity but rather one that is ever changing and ever evolving. This change is what keeps us alive and relevant.
These Five Laws of Library Science are markers we all should keep in our minds when we think of any library, not just the law library. As librarians, we must remind ourselves why we are here, what our duties are and who we are serving. As patrons, you need to know why we are here and what we can do for you.
So I hope to see you in the library. Preferably mine! And if you do come, bring us some cupcakes. Because Blake’s Rule of the Law Library is even simpler: Everyone likes cupcakes.
W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian