Rule 1: Books are for use.
Click here for all five of Ranganathan's Rules
This is pretty self explanatory, like all Ranganathan’s rules, but there is still something to be explored here.
Books are for use. To be read. To be perused. To be used for entertainment, edification, and research. Books are for use. And use means broken bindings and wrinkled pages. Books are meant to used and used so much they are worn out.
Certainly, us book nerds appreciate the aesthetics of the codex book as a form. Many of us buy different editions of the same book or series of book because of cover art changes or to collect special editions. I would never shame that wholeheartedly, but that is not the purpose of the book. When we have those pretty, leather bound books up on our shelves for ourselves and our nerdy friends to admire, we are treating the book as piece of visual art, instead of a book.
I guess that is to say that we use books for different things than their most primary intent. We use them as art pieces and decoration. We use them as a way to show off intelligence or wealth. But I gather that’s not what Ranganathan meant, especially in regards to a library, where the books are not personal possessions, but shared possessions, community possessions.
While in different days of the ancient past, books took a lot longer to produce and had many less copies and were much more expensive, there was bigger need to impress this ideas. Books are for use. By people no less! People who might damage them, but the same people who will benefit from reading them.
While ebooks are not my preferred way of reading, this reason (Book! Are! For! Use!) is why I find the hate towards the ebook form silly. If the books are being read, what is the issue? You know what’s more important than books being printed on paper, being bound, being designed aesthetically… The stories, the artistry, and the information inside of them.
So say it with me everyone. Chant it aloud. Books Are For Use!
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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