A Literary Look into the Basics of Library Science: Borges, Eco, and Ranganathan

By Baileigh Faust.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: April 4, 2014 $US5.00

In 1931, S. R. Ranganathan posed a theory that five basic principles should guide librarianship. Known as the “Five Laws of Library Science,” these laws remain a relevant part of today’s library science field and clearly guide current organizations and practices. Ranganathan’s “Five Laws of Library Science” easily fly below the daily radar and are often taken for granted; however, it is absolutely crucial that these guiding principles remain ever-present in library practices and goals as the field evolves. The consequences of ignoring Ranganathan’s five laws become frighteningly plausible in the fictional libraries of Umberto Eco’s historically-set novel, "The Name of the Rose," and Jorge Luis Borges’s futuristic short story, “The Library of Babel.” As each library fails in polar opposite fashions to adhere to each of Ranganathan’s laws, an ideal library model emerges, touching on issues of organization, cataloging, preservation, censorship, and adaptability. This paper serves as a reminder of the delicate balances within the field and the role a library should play in society, aided by Ranganathan’s theories.

Keywords: Ranganathan, Library Science, Literature

The International Journal of the Book, Volume 11, Issue 2, April 2014, pp.13-22. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: April 4, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 237.983KB)).

Baileigh Faust

Student, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, USA

Currently, I am in my fourth undergraduate year at Gustavus Adolphus College, a small liberal arts school in St. Peter, Minnesota, USA, where I am majoring in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and English and minoring in History. After I graduate December of 2013, I will go on to earn my Master’s of Library Science and pursue a career in that field. My favorite hobby is reading; I particularly enjoy nonfiction novels. I enjoy taking classes in all of the humanities and am very much looking forward to my last semester of college.


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