Reordering Ranganathan: Shifting User Behaviors, Shifting Priorities


An OCLC Research Report by:

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D., and Ixchel Faniel, Ph.D.


  • Today's library users challenge librarians to move from the simple declaration of "save the time of the reader"; meeting today's users' needs requires embedding library systems and services into their existing workflows
  • Our modern-day rephrasing of "every person his or her book" is know your community and its needs
  • The core meaning of "books are for use" is still about access; however, our interpretation focuses on developing the physical and technical infrastructure needed to deliver materials
  • Our interpretation of "every book its reader" focuses on increasing the discoverability, access and use of resources within users’ existing workflows
  • We agree that "a library is a growing organism" and propose growing users' share of attention
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This report suggests that Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science can be reordered and reinterpreted to reflect today's library resources and services, as well as the behaviors that people demonstrate when engaging with them.

Although authors Senior Research Scientist Lynn Silipigni Connaway and Associate Research Scientist Ixchel Faniel believe Ranganathan's five laws are still relevant today, their intent is to help evolve both the work done by librarians and the perceptions of libraries and librarians. By changing how we think about the five laws in terms of interpretation and order of importance, Lynn and Ixchel hope to reflect the current resources and services available for use and the behaviors that people demonstrate when engaging with them.  

The objective of this publication is to provide a timely and relevant context for Ranganathan’s laws that today’s librarians, library researchers and information scientists can refer to as they think about making changes in practice and developing agendas for future research.

This work is an output of the OCLC Research User Behavior Studies & Synthesis theme, which centers on how users engage with technology and content.  

Learn More

Video interview with the authors of the report

Suggested citation:

Connaway, Lynn Silipigni, and Ixchel M. Faniel. 2014. Reordering Ranganathan: Shifting User Behaviors, Shifting Priorities. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.

For more information:

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Ph.D.
Director of Library Trends and User Research
OCLC Research

Quick links:

Reordering Ranganathan: Shifting User Behaviors, Shifting Priorities

  • Report publication announcement [link]
  • Download the report [link] (.pdf: 8.8MB/136pp.)
  • View the trailer to the video interview [link]