Five laws of library science

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The Five laws of library science is a theory proposed by S. R. Ranganathan in 1931 detailing the principles of operating a library system. Many librarians worldwide accept them as the foundations of their philosophy.[1][2]

These laws are:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every person his or her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. Library is a growing organism.


First Law: Books are for use[edit]

The first law constitutes the basis for the library services. Dr. Ranganathan observed that books were often chained to prevent their removal and that the emphasis was on storage and preservation rather than use. He did not reject the notion that preservation and storage were important, but he asserted that the purpose of such activities was to promote use. Without user access to materials, there is little value in these items. By emphasizing use, Dr. Ranganathan refocused the attention of the field to access-related issues, such as the library's location, loan policies, hours and days of operation, as well as the quality of staffing and mundane matters like library furniture, temperature control and lighting. [2]

The first law of library science "books are for use" means that books in libraries are not meant to be shut away from users.

Second Law: Every person his or her book[edit]

The second law of library science "every person his or her book" means that librarians serve a wide collection of patrons, acquire literature to fit a vast collection of needs, and do not judge what specific patrons choose to read. Everyone has different tastes and differences and librarians should respect that.

Third Law: Every book its reader[edit]

The third law of library science "every book its reader" means a library's books have a place in the library even if a smaller demographic might choose to read it.

Fourth Law: Save the time of the reader[edit]

The fourth law of library science "save the time of the user" means that all patrons should be able to easily locate the material they desire quickly and efficiently.

Fifth Law: The library is a growing organism[edit]

The fifth law of library science "the library is a growing organism" means that a library should be a continually changing institution, never static in its outlook. Books, methods, and the physical library should be updated over time.


Librarian Michael Gorman (past president of the American Library Association, 2005–2006), and Walt Crawford recommended the following laws in addition to Ranganathan's five in Future Libraries: Dreams, Madness, and Realities [American Library Association, 1995, p. 8]. Gorman later repeated them in his book Our Singular Strengths [American Library Association, 1998]. B. Shadrach (Indian Public Library Movement, 2015) proposed an alternative to Ranganathan's five laws at the 2015 Indian Public Libraries Conference in New Delhi.

  1. Libraries serve humanity.
  2. Respect all forms by which knowledge is communicated.
  3. Use technology intelligently to enhance service.
  4. Protect free access to knowledge.
  5. Honor the past and create the future.[3]

In 2004, librarian Alireza Noruzi recommended applying Ranganathan's laws to the Web in his paper, "Application of Ranganathan's Laws to the Web":

  1. Web resources are for use.
  2. Every user has his or her web resource.
  3. Every web resource its user.
  4. Save the time of the user.
  5. The Web is a growing organism.[4]

In 2008, librarian Carol Simpson recommended that editing be done to Ranganathan's laws due to media richness. The following were:

  1. Media are for use.
  2. Every patron his information.
  3. Every medium its user.
  4. Save the time of the patron.
  5. The library is a growing organism.[5]

In 2015, B. Shadrach proposed an alternative set of laws adapted from Dr. S. R. Ranganathan:

  1. Knowledge is for use in ‘all’ forms
  2. Every citizen has the right to access ‘all’ knowledge in 'all' forms
  3. Every piece of knowledge is for access by ‘all’ without discrimination of any kind
  4. Save the time of ‘all’ of the knowledge seekers
  5. A library or a knowledge system is one that evolves with time to achieve all of the above laws

In 2016, Dr. Achala Munigal recommended that editing be done to Ranganathan's laws due to introduction of Social Tools and their applications in Libraries:

  1. Social Media is for use – increasingly in libraries by librarians
  2. Every user his/her Social Tool
  3. Every Social Tool its user
  4. Save time of user by providing information he/she seeks using the social tool he/she is familiar with.
  5. Social Media is a growing organism, with various tools and apps being introduced every day. Libraries are not brick and stone anymore. They serve members and non-members alike in terms of non-traditional library service, irrespective of space and time.[6]


  1. ^ Koehler, Wallace, Jitka Hurych, Wanda Dole, and Joanna Wall. "Ethical Values of Information and Library Professionals – An Expanded Analysis." International Information & Library Review 32 (3/4) 2000: 485–506.
  2. ^ a b Rubin, Richard E. Foundations of Library and Information Science. 2nd ed. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers. 2004.
  3. ^ "Five Laws of Library Science". University of Southern California. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  4. ^ Noruzi, Alireza (2004). "Application of Ranganathan's Laws to the Web." Webology, 1(2), Article 8. Available at:
  5. ^ Simpson, Carol. "Five Laws". Library Media Connection 26 no7 6 Ap/My 2008. Available at:
  6. ^ Munigal, Achala (August 2016). Ravi, Sharada (ed.). "124th Jayanthi Sandharbanga: Grandhalaya Tapsvi Ranganathanku Niwali". Granthalaya Sarvasvam (in Telugu). Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh Library Association: 4–7. ISSN 0972-8104.

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