Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Summary of the Five Laws

I've been looking for a brief introductory statement of the Five Laws and have decided to do it myself.  In this post I will use the terms "book" and "reader" in a generalized sense that should be taken as a reference to any media in any format. "Use" can be taken to include writing and presenting as well as reading and, more importantly, the thinking and learning that emerges from the read-write loop. I am also taking the liberty to include some of my personal reflections on the concepts and principles.

Books are for use

Ranganathan contrasts "books for use" against "books for keeping."  If our work is a matter of keeping, then just having the dead objects becomes our main purpose.  But in the case of use, then the contents of those objects become alive in the hands and minds of our readers. And our purpose in libraries becomes the bringing together of collections of books, communities of readers and authors, needs for learning in those communities, and the betterment of the institutions and communities in which we work.

Every person his or her book

Whether we say person or reader here might not matter, but part of Ranganathan's philosophy prompts us to see our readers as individual human beings with their own interests and needs.  Our obligation is to treat and think of our readers with respect and as having the right to come to us for the book or books that will suit their needs.  We should also look to providing broad access and the amenities that would welcome readers to come and use their books.

Every book its reader

This is mainly a maxim for collection management.  Why should we keep any one book? Because of its evident usefulness to one or more readers.  This also gives direction to how we build and design indexes, search engines and results lists.  The challenge with internet resources becomes how to bring forward the most likely useful books and to push the others to the third and fourth pages of results. 

Save the time of the reader

This is quite simply a matter of convenience and quality customer service.  Any task that can be made easier should be easy. This will give the reader time and energy to devote to tasks that have to be hard, like learning how to read scholarly articles.

A library is a growing organism

"Organism" is an obvious metaphor to indicate the complex systems and vitality presented by a library.  "Ecosystem" would probably be used today.  In either case, a library arises from multiple and varied systems and sub-systems, and is capable adapting  to new conditions and developing new functions as needed.  A library can easily grow in size, but more importantly, can grow in the sense of learning as an organization to better serve its readers.

—from Five Laws of Library Science by S. R. Ranganathan, 1931

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sarah Lawrence creates its own assessment tool, bypassing standardized tests | Inside Higher Ed

Hooray! Here is a model to assess learning that recognizes that the learning that matters is fundamentally local and personal as well as social and global.  Can this be adapted to a new way to require and assess information literacy and digital literacy in SUNY General Education?  Why not?

Monday, November 11, 2013 - Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them) has sent you the following story: Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)
Jim thought you would be interested in this story
Message: Adaptive leadership aligns with servant leadership and with kaizen.  If you want to change an organization or community toward the common good, you have to engage and empower everyone in building solutions to problems. 
This is what allows Penfield Library to continue our mission in an age of new librarianship, and what will allow higher education to thrive in the future. 
Open SUNY will succeed only so far as it provides a framework for adaptive leadership.

Lessons In Leadership: It's Not About You. (It's About Them)

It takes more than a decisive vision to solve intractable world problems, says Harvard leadership expert Ronald Heifetz. Instead, he advises his students — including budding heads-of-state — to think less like surgeons and more like psychiatrists.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Participatory Culture, Participatory Libraries | Inside Higher Ed

From Barbara Fister at Library Babel Fish:
The fact is, academic libraries should be all about participatory culture. They are labs, they are workshops, they are studios for making new ideas inspired by old ones. We’ve gotten distracted by trying to look more like Google and Amazon (even though our pseudo-shopping platforms are never as slick). We’ve been paying too much attention to delivering what scholars ask for efficiently and helping busy student shop for quotes they can use in a paper. That’s not really what libraries are for.

Participatory Culture, Participatory Libraries | Inside Higher Ed

We have been trying to think of an alternative name for our developing learning commons, especially for when the working concept becomes embodied as a populated physical space within the library.  My pet idea is to use the terms 'scholar' and 'workshop' in the new name.  This starts with my view that the main use of informative sources in college is research and scholarship.  That students are here as apprentice scholars and so are here to grow in their participation in communities of scholarly and professional practice. That we are dedicated to the kind of locally regulated sharing that is key to successful commons (from since the Middle Ages).

In reading the obituary of Elinor Ostrom--the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics for her research on commons--I learned that she chose the name "Workshop" for her research center particularly because it was to be a place for students and faculty to work together and collaborate as masters and apprentices, and a place for these scholars to participate in contributing to the Knowledge Commons (see Understanding Knowledge as a Commons, edited by Charlotte Hess and Elinor Ostrom, MIT Press, ISBN 0-262-08357-4).

And now Fister comes along.

So how about "Scholars' Workshop" as the name for our learning commons space?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Declaration of In(ter)dependence | Inside Higher Ed

 I want to get back to some of these ideas soon.  Especially knowledge as a common good, libraries as a growing organisms, and the kind of leadership needed to sustain a commons.

Declaration of In(ter)dependence | Inside Higher Ed

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Selfless Audacity" Means Creating a Sustainable Not-a-Business Model | Peer to Peer Review

Another take on how the basics of library science and practice from Ranganathan can persist in a networked world. Barbara Fister addresses all the laws but one, "Save the time of the reader." Perhaps she takes it for granted.

"Selfless Audacity" Means Creating a Sustainable Not-a-Business Model | Peer to Peer Review