Ranganathan’s 5 laws of librarianship


My name is Kendall Singh and I am interning at the Elma Francois Library which is situated in the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies. This college offer programmes from certificates to bachelor degrees. Some of the duties I perform are circulation functions, data entry, processing library material and overdue notices. Some activities I participated in were assisting in displays and projects for example The World Aids Day display. I have also been engaged in building a webpage and entering data of new and returning students during the registration process.  It is observed that this library incorporates all of Ranganathan’s 5 laws of librarianship in its daily operations.

The law books are for use. The Elma Francois library’s collection consists of the open shelf collection, West Indian (W.I.) collection and the reserved collection. The open shelf collection is where users can borrow books from this collection. The duration of the loan policies on books are two weeks and one week. Users are allowed a renewal of an additional two weeks on only the two week loan books. There are no renewals on the short loan books. The reserved and reference books are only to be used in the library.  Most of the library’s materials are made accessible to patrons. The only reason for patrons not accessing books is when the books are being processed, it is put on order or it is not available in the library’s collections.  Although some books are reserved and reference, the largest collection is the open shelf collection. Some of the library material is digitized that contributes to the ease of accessibility. The library has eBooks and soft copies of past papers that are made available to patrons on the library’s computers. Students can simply use the computers and access this material for themselves. The library’s online public access catalogue (OPAC) is also a self service system where students can access the OPAC for themselves once they have internet access.

The library can be easily identified because of an Elma Francois library sign located right above the library’s entrance. The location of the library itself is very close to the main front entrance of the college which makes it easy to locate. The hours of the library are very flexible. The opening hours are Mondays to Fridays from 8:30a.m. to 8:00p.m and Saturdays from 9:00a.m. to 1:00p.m.  There is also a mobile library that significantly contributes to accessibility.

There is an efficient library staff that makes accessibility easier for users. It is often observed the library staff assist users in locating library material and processing of library material is done in a timely manner so it can be placed on the shelves for patrons to borrow.  It can be concluded that the Elma Francois Library certainly executes this law based on the flexible loan policies, location of the library, the flexible opening hours and the efficient staff.

Every reader, his or her book. The law is evident in the Elma Francois library because the library provides material in all types of formats to meet patrons’ needs. There are catalogs and reference services provided at the Elma Francois library to make that connection between the patron and the library’s books. The library meets the need of users by providing books in all the subject areas of the school’s curriculum. The library staff gives patrons the freedom to access any type of information in any format. Patrons can access ebooks, physical copies, internet service, the OPAC etc. There is no evidence of censorship or inequality.  The only inequality is that staff is given the privilege to borrow more books for longer periods where students have to abide by the two week and short loan policy. Lecturers can also borrow reserved books once there are two copies of a particular book in the collection but students cannot borrow a reserved book under no circumstance. Everyone is allowed to view the archive material with no supervision from the library staff. The library staff ensures that there are no blocks when borrowing books. Everyone is given a fair opportunity to put a book on hold when it is out. It is observed that library staff seeks to match the library’s resources with the students’ needs. The library recommends alternative material but never suppress patrons from accessing the resources they want. Since the library provides material on labour studies its collection also consist of archive materials of passed trade union disputes and judgments which means the library provides old and updated material. Patrons request updated editions of books as well as the out dated version and the library provides both the out dated and updated editions. Although the library suppose to stock available text books at the tertiary level on its shelves since it is a tertiary level institution it also consists of books below the tertiary level. The reason being the library support the population of students who have not yet reached that level of proficiency at tertiary level education and may need to start from basic learning so the library provides books at the CXC level and book for dummies such Economics for Dummies. The Elma Francois certainly meets the different type of needs of requesting old and updated material and books to match the varying educational status of patrons.

Every book its reader is a law in the Elma Francois library. The library staff at this library plays a major part in the execution of this law. Some patrons engaging in research was not aware that there are books that would be relevant to their research and field of study. In order to help carry out this law the library staff has assisted patrons in locating specific library material that will be useful to them. It is often observed sometimes a student is unsuccessful in locating the material they need. Sometimes they are not satisfied with the content in a particular book or they may not locate the recommended text book. This is where the patron would need the library staff’s assistance. The library staff seeks to find out from the patron what information is needed. The library staff often has located a specific book or books that will be useful and relevant to the patron and the patron walks out the library satisfied. Each book in the library should be useful to each student simply because the library aims to stock the shelves mostly with books that support the school’s curriculum. One of the aims of the library is to support student development which is one of the purposes of the law every book its reader. Students’ development is supported by the reference services of the library staff and the relevant books the library holds to assist all student in their field of study.

The library subscribes to online databases such as Ebscohost for students to access. It is almost impossible for a student not to find the information he or she needs. One of the programmes offered at the college is Project Management. The shelves are stocked with Project Management books so it is almost impossible for a student requesting a Project Management book to walk out of the library empty handed. On the other hand subject areas like Biology is not part of the course curriculum and there are cases where  few students have borrowed Biology books from the Elma Francois library which simply indicates this library aims to provide library material to meet needs of both the majority and minority of the student population .

The library’s OPAC that can be accessed on and off campus are made available to student and the open shelf books  contributes to making books more easily accessible.

Save the time of the reader. Patrons visit the library expecting their needs to be met in a timely manner.  The more aggressive patrons sometimes verbally express their needs for quick service.  The Elma Francois library is a very fast paced and dynamic environment especially when there are large numbers of patrons in the library.  It is observed that the peak period of the library is from approximately 4:00p.m. to 5:30p.m.  The majority of students’ classes are scheduled from 5:30p.m. to 8:00p.m. and therefore more students visit the library in the afternoon before commencing classes. It is observed the library staff are often compelled to provide quick service to patrons especially the ones who are late for classes. The staff that is engaged in the heavy workload and multitasking under the pressure of irate patrons is the staff who works in the evening period. Sometimes library staff is forced to perform tasks in a simultaneous fashion in order to provide quick service. Some of these tasks that are performed when dealing with patrons are circulation functions, printing, photocopying and computer assistance. The library staff of this library is very efficient in meeting patrons’ needs in a timely fashion during both the slow and busy periods.

Technology in the Elma Francois library plays an important role in “saving the time of the reader”.  The library’s OPAC can be accessed by the patrons themselves. There are computers in the library that students can use to access the OPAC and they can also access the OPAC anywhere once they have internet access. This causes patrons to become self sufficient therefore saving them time and energy of them having to visit the library to do a simple search for a book. The independent patrons who utilize the OPAC without the help from library staff consequently reduce the workload of the library staff and therefore they focus on dealing with other tasks. Patrons often have problems such as computer issues and searching for books. It is observed that the library staff is equipped with the skills to deal with such problems in a timely fashion for example quickly assisting patrons who have problems locating books. The different collections of books are in close proximity to each other to make the searching process easier and faster. Furthermore there are signs of the call numbers on the shelves to direct patrons to find books easier and faster.

The library is a growing organism. The different areas of the Elma Francois library such as the study area consist of a number of tables and chairs to facilitate students who want to study. There is the circulation section which consists of the circulation desk and behind the circulation desk is the reserved collection. The open shelf area consists of a number of shelves holding open shelf books. There are also other difference areas such as the reference collection, the West Indian collection and the Archives. There is a reading room for group work and ten computers located in the study area of the library and four offices for staff. The library is presently short staff and if additional staff is hired there would not be place for them to sit because all the offices desks are occupied.  To increase space in the library there are a lot of hard copies of library material that can be digitized. There are five large cabinets to store research papers. If the research papers are digitized there will be no use for the cabinets that is taking up space in the library. The research paper cabinets are close to the reserve collection and presently the reserved collection is expanding and soon there will be a need for more space. If the cabinets for the research papers are removed this will increase space to hold more reserved books. However, consideration has been given to digitized research papers. There is some digitized material such as past papers. The hardcopies of past papers have been eliminated and now there are brochures and handouts that have taken the space of the past papers. The library should acquire more ebooks therefore eliminating the physical books from the shelves that will create more space. However, from my observation the shelves for the open books can hold more books. The library does not have enough room to add to the physical layout of the library but plans have been made to expand the physical infrastructure of the library department.












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Jo-Anne Courtney Penco

Life @ Costaatt


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