Basic Laws of Normative Principles

Dr. S. R. Ranganathan was the chief architect of the dynamic theory of library classification. The first consolidated account of this Dynamic Theory was published in 1957 in the second edition of Prolegomena to Library Classification. He formulated basic laws, laws of library science, canons, principles and postulates that gave a completely new direction to the development of the theory of library classification. This new theory helps in designing schemes of classification, which can resist the challenges presented by the growth of knowledge and their evaluation.

Basic Laws (General Laws): Dr. S. R. Ranganathan formulated six basic laws which govern the basic process of thinking.  These laws may be invoked when two or more Laws of Library Science or Canons for Classification lead to conflicting on equally valid different decisions. The six basic laws are:
  1. Law of Interpretation
  2. Law of Impartiality
  3. Law of Symmetry
  4. Law of Parsimony
  5. Law of Local Variation
  6. Law of Osmosis

He also formulated five Laws of Library Science, also called Fundamental Laws, formulated in 1928 and first published in the book ‘Five Laws of Library Science’ in 1931. These five laws have an impact on library functions and are invoked when two or more canons or principles of classification lead to conflicting on equally valid alternate decisions.

1.      Law of Interpretation

2. Law of Impartiality:

3. Law of Symmetry:

4.  Law of Parsimony: 

5. Law of Local Variation: 

6. Law of Osmosis:

Self-Check Exercises

1.The process by which a library can identify ‘active’ collection for reprocessing is:

Answer: (D) Law of Osmosis

2. ‘Law of Parsimony’ belongs to the __.

Answer: (C) Normative Principles

3. Who among the following propounded the dynamic theory of Library Classification?

Answer: (B) S. R. Ranganathan

4. Arrange the following laws/principles from lower to higher level as propounded by Ranganathan: a)Fundamental Laws b)Canons c)Principles d)Basic Laws

Answer: (A)

5. According to S. R. Ranganathan, if any conflict arises between the canons and/or principles, it is resolved by an appeal to __.

Answer: (C) The Five Laws

6. The Principle of Local Variation is mainly applicable in __.

Answer: (A) Cataloguing

7. The principle which states ‘that between two or more possible alternatives bearing on a particular phenomenon the one leading to overall economy is to be preferred’ is known as:

Answer: (B) Law of Parsimony

8. Law of Parsimony refers to __.

Answer: (C) Overall Economy

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