Ranganathan and software

February 3rd, 2007

Seeing Michael Stephens post in Tame the Web about updating Ranganathan’s laws made me wonder if they could be relevant to open source software/projects. This is partly because of some of the things that I’ve heard in some of my interviews and a recent conversation about how open source projects work.

The original five laws are:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader, his book.
  3. Every book, its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The Library is a growing organism.

Ranganathan, S.R. (1963) The five laws of library science. (2nd ed.) Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

Various people have updated these laws for the digital age, including versions for digital libraries, electronic resources, and the web. Mentor Cana made a start on adapting them for open source software. Cana’s version:

  1. Software is for use
  2. Every user his or her software
  3. Every software its user
  4. Save the time of the user
  5. A software Library is a growing organism

I don’t necessarily agree with the wording, and will see what I can come up with that might be clearer after the weekend. Over the next few postings, I’ll be saying a bit more about each law, and how it might apply to an open source software project.

Entry Filed under: Free/open source


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