Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan
Ranganathan's chief technical contributions to library science were in classification and indexing theory. His Colon Classification (1933) introduced a system that is widely used in research libraries around the world and that has affected the evolution of such older systems as the Dewey Decimal Classification. Later he devised the technique of chain indexing for deriving subject-index entries.
His Five Laws of Library Science (1931) was widely accepted as a definitive statement of the ideal of library service. He also drafted plans for a national and several state library systems, founded and edited several journals, and was active in numerous professional associations.
Colon Classification is the system of library organization developed by Ranganathan in 1933. It is general rather than specific in nature, and it can create complex or new categories through the use of facets, or colons.
In it, there are 108 main classes and 10 generalized classes (broadly divided between the humanities and sciences), which are represented by a mixed notation of Arabic numerals and Roman and Greek letters. Each main class comprises five fundamental facets, or groups: personality, matter, energy, space, and time.
Ranganathan's main contribution to classification was the notion of these fundamental facets, or categories. Instead of schedules of numbers for each topic, Colon Classification uses series of short tables from which component numbers are chosen and linked by colons to form a whole. The book number is an integral part of the call number, a departure from Dewey or Library of Congress systems.
Each main class has its appropriate facets and focuses; e.g., literature has language and form. In addition, there are four floating tables that correspond to subdivisions -- e.g., form, geography, time, and language. Further expansion of the tables is allowed through colon addition or omission (if the subject cannot be expanded).
The collection of the University of Madras, India, was utilized in the creation of Colon Classification.
His Life in Short:
- He was educated at the Hindu
High School in Shiyali,
at Madras Christian College (where he took B.A. and M.A. degrees in
in 1913 and 1916), and at Teachers College, Saidapet.
- In 1917 he joined the faculty of Government College, Mangalore.
- From 1920 to 1923 he subsequently taught at Government College, Coimbatore, and at Presidency College, University of Madras, in 1921-1923.
- In 1924 he was appointed first librarian of the University of Madras, and in order to fit himself for the post he traveled to England to study at University College, London.
- From 1925 to 1944 he took up the job at Madras in earnest in 1925 and held it until 1944.
- From 1945 to 1954 he served as librarian and as professor of library science at Hindu University in Varanasi (Banaras), and from 1947 to 1954 he taught at the University of Delhi.
- From 1954 to 1957 he was engaged in research and writing in Zürich.
- He returned to India in the latter year and served as visiting professor at Vikram University, Ujjain, until 1959.
- In 1962 he founded and became head of the Documentation Research and Training Centre in Bangalore, with which he remained associated for the rest of his life, and in 1965 he was honoured by the Indian government with the title of national research professor in library science.
Five Laws of Library
Colon Classification (1933)
Classified Catalogue Code (1934)
Prolegomena to Library Classification (1937)
Theory of the Library Catalogue (1938)
Elements of Library Classification (1945)
Classification and International Documentation (1948)
Classification and Communication (1951)
Headings and Canons (1955).
A preliminary scan of the prefatory matter and first chapter from the original 1931 edition of S.R. Ranganathan's Five Laws is now available at dLIST: