Friday, December 19, 2008

Ranganathan's 5 laws and FRBR

The Koha list has been awash with posts these last few days. What started as a cry of frustration has evolved into a really interesting discussion and I sense a positive aspiration to think about how we can acquisition and catalogue in Koha 3.0 at a range of different levels and for a range of different audiences.

Horowhenua Library Trust designed Koha 1.0 back in 2000 with BIBLIOS, GROUPS and ITEMS. This achieved a similar result to that possible with FRBR.
RDA is relevant here to.

The Koha database had ITEMS, which inherit all of the attributes of the GROUP record they are attached to, and GROUPS inherit all the attributes of the BIBLIO record they were attached to. This meant reserves could be placed at a BIBLIO level (if you didn't care which ITEM you got), or at GROUP level (if you wanted the first ITEM available of a particular edition) or at an ITEM level (when you wanted a specific issue of a periodical or a specific video to send away for cleaning etc).

It was designed this way because oftentimes patrons didn't care which copy of which edition they got when they reserved a book - they just wanted the first one that became available!

Brooke Johnson reminded me of Ranganathan's 5 Law's of library Science. These are:
  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every person his [or her] book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.
William Denton blogged in 2007 :
"I think the laws should underpin everything we do every day. Memorize them so you can quote them in meetings. You’ll be amazed at how they cut things down to some sensible size and help you remember what’s important. FRBR fulfills the laws: it will help people find their books, it will help books be found, it will save the time of the reader, and it is part of the continuing growth of libraries not just in shelves and buildings but in ideas and services."

If we remember Ranganathan when designing cataloguing in Koha 3.0, I don't think we can go too far wrong!


Chris said...

Heya Jo

Koha was actually designed in 1999. It went live at HLT Jan 3 2000. You guys were even further ahead of the curve :)

Owen said...

And of course it was the imposition of MARC on Koha that killed it. Blame us for that :( Koha's next major innovation should be to bring it back, MARC or no MARC.

Joann Ransom said...


Been reading up on RDA and I'm quite excited at the opportunity that gives us... the timing is perfect if we are thinking of rethinking cataloguing in Koha.