By Praversh Sukram
The Library recently undertook a self-evaluation in preparation for the University’s Project Renewal programme. Every member of the Library had to contribute to the self-evaluation and had to provide input about their jobs based on the following two areas: the purpose of the post and implications if the post was not in the structure.
During the feedback sessions with the Circulation department, the author was reminded about what was studied at Library School years ago - S. R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science.
It became clear that jobs were directed towards achieving one of the laws set out by Siyali Ramamrita Ranganathan in 1931. This law is Every Book its Reader. This law prescribes that every book in a library must find its reader. It implies that there should be maximum use of books by users and users must be able to find the books they want.
Every aspect of Circulation is fulfilling this law of Library Science. Colleagues in the collections maintenance section, for example, ensure that books are shelved correctly so that readers can easily access them when required. In addition to shelving books correctly colleagues also undertake shelf reading. The purpose for shelf reading is to maintain the proper order of books on the shelves based on the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) number. “A misplaced book is a lost book” as the saying goes.
The Inter Library Loans (ILL) function is aimed at providing users with items required for research which are not available at UKZN Libraries. These items are sourced from other Libraries. UKZN Library also makes its materials available to other Libraries.
Inter-campus loans are also provided where materials from other UKZN campus libraries are made available to users.
The Library also offers a Pay-Per-View (PPV) service which provides access to materials that cannot be sourced via the ILL service.
Another area where colleagues are fulfilling the law of Every Book its Reader is in the scanning of book chapters and theses. The scanned items are made available on the Library’s online platforms. This service is extremely beneficial especially during the lockdown.
The principle of job rotation is applied at Circulation where every employee is provided with an opportunity to be exposed to all functions at Circulation. With staff being multi-skilled the service to users is enhanced. An efficient and productive use of staff also fulfills the principle of the law of Every Book its Reader in that services are geared towards maximising access to Library materials.
The other four laws of Library Science proposed by Dr Ranganathan are:
- Books are for Use
- Every Reader his/her Book
- Save the Time of the Reader
- The Library is a Growing Organism.