[AIB]AIB-WEB. Contributi. Personale e parametri

Library planning

Estratti (p. 7-8, 24-31, 633) da: Library administration / by S.R. Ranganathan. - 2nd ed. - Bombay [etc.] : Asia Publ. House, 1959. - 678 p. - (Ranganathan series in library science ; 3), sulla determinazione, in base a parametri relativi al servizio, delle necessità di personale in biblioteche di varia tipologia. Trascritti a scopo di studio per la discussione sviluppata in "Personale e parametri". Già disponibile dal febbraio 1994 fra i "Documenti AIB-CUR".

[p. 7-8]


    Extract from Mahasaraswati
0   Genesis and Conspectus

Theory of Administration

11  Planning
12  Job Analysis
13  Routine
14  Elimination of Waste
15  Correlation
16  Time Scheme
17  Forms and Registers
18  Correspondence, Files and Records

Distinctive Library Functions

21  Book Selection Section
22  Book Order Section
23  Periodical Publication Section
24  Accession Section
25  Technical Section
26  Circulation Section
27  Reference Section
28  Maintenance Section

General Office Functions

31  Committee Section
32  Staff Section
33  Staff Council
34  Elimination of Waste
35  Publicity Section
36  Finance Section
37  Accounts Section
38  Records Section
391 Librarian
392 Library Profession
393 Correspondence Section
394 Printing Section
395 Binding Section
396 Building and Equipment Section
397 Stores Section
398 Statistical Section


[p. 24]

As the Library Grows
How Functions Divide and Subdivide

Do-all Librarian
   (Behind the screen) Office work
      5. Technical section
            (By subjects)
            (By languages)
            (By subjects and languages)
      Other office work
         Distinctive library work
            1. Book selection
               (By subjects)
            2. Book order
               (By languages)
            3. Periodicals
               (By countries)
            4. Accession
               Collation and Accessioning
               Gift books
            8. Shelf section
               (By sequences)
         General office work
            (Usual divisions)
   (Outside the screen) Circulation work
      6. Counter section
      7. Reference section
         (By subjects)

[p. 25-31]


111 Basis of Planning

The first step in organising any administrative force is to organise it into convenient sections according to a carefully thought-out plan. To get a suitable plan is equivalent to finding out an appropriate characteristic as the basis for classifying the entire work cast upon the administrative force. The characteristic chosen will vary with the nature of the business entrusted to the administration. It may be regional or functional or personal or of any other nature -- pure or mixed. The science of administration -- yes, administration is fast becoming a science in our lifetime -- has already developed a special jargon to label the plans, based on different characteristics. Here are some terms, which are current: series plan, parallel plan, functional plan, divisional plan, line and staff plan, and so on. The Canons of Classification [6] must be borne in mind in the choice of the characteristic which is to be made the basis of the planning of an administration.

112 Functional Planning

Functional planning is found almost universally in nature. In except the very simplest forms of cell life, viz the protista, seem to have learned the advantage of a division of labour. And in the more complex cell colonies, such as animals, we find the degree of specialisation carried so far that the individual cell is fitted only to perform one function, and would quickly perish without the complementary activities of its fellow cells.
Many animals have also learned the advantage of division of labour. From the insect societies to the complex civilisations of the human race we find the principle extensively applied.

1121 Mechanics of Planning

In most types of administration -- and especially in library administration -- the basis of planning likely to yield the best results is a functional basis, adapted to the needs of the particular administration and translated into practical shape in the light of other organisational principles. Hence, the first step in planning is to analyse and isolate the different functions to be performed by the staff of the library. Much of the mechanics of planning is thus concerned with the clear presentation of the factors of a situation, so that the situation may be quickly and accurately grasped. Once that is done, the staff can be divided into the necessary number of sections to perform the different functions. The best way of naming each section is to name it by its function.

113 Functional Analysis

The result of such an analysis of the work is set forth in the contents page of this manual. The functions denoted by the numbers 21 to 28 are the distinctive functions of a library administration, while the functions 31 to 398 are functions which are likely to appear in all administrations. The generic names Distinctive Library Functions and General Office Functions may be applied respectively to these two groups of functions.
The connotation of the terms used to denote the different functions is indicated roughly by the terms themselves. A fuller and more detailed picture of the functions is presented in the respective chapters. The plan of each chapter has already been indicated in section 064. It may be repeated here that each chapter is devoted to a single Function and is divided into eight parts. A perusal of the first three parts of each chapter will give a full and detailed view of the function which gives the name to the chapter.

114 Difficulties in the Way

At present many of the functions are being performed under the weight of a non-progressive and crude tradition, involving many wasteful processes. Library administration is particularly hard hit by this state of affairs owing to two causes.

1141 Spending Body

In the first place, a library is a spending department. However much it may remotely contribute to the increase of wealth in the nation, it is not one that directly raises a revenue or earns an income. It is a matter of experience that a department that either raises a revenue or earns a direct income by its operations is indifferent to wastefulness of processes. Comparatively speaking, money is easily forthcoming in its case. On the other hand, a purely spending department like the library department tends to be usually treated in a step-motherly fashion. It is difficult to get the necessary finance. Hence every possible care is to be taken to devise more economical methods of administration.

1142 Dependent Body

In the second place, by its very nature, it is seldom that a library administration is independent. On the contrary, whatever be the nature of a library, other than being a National Central Library, it is likely to be a department of a larger organisation whose central executive usually tends to take advantage of his privileged position and develop a grasping tendency on the one hand and obstructive tactics on the other. As a result of this, a library is at a perpetual disadvantage in developing either its own distinctive functions or the functions common to all administrations along newer, more scientific, and more efficient lines. The library administration thus rests between two opposing forces.

1143 Condition in India

According to Headicar, in the West the library department still continues to be "the Cinderella" of the bigger organisation of which it is a part. It has not yet become what it should be, "the Mecca" of the bigger organisation, nay, "of government itself" [7]. In India, the situation is still worse and will probably continue to be so for a long time. Hence, the library profession here has a much greater handicap than elsewhere in planning its work satisfactorily. It is at once the duty and the privilege of the members of the present generation of the library profession to face and overcome every discouragement and difficulty, and to evolve a healthy tradition of scientifically managing libraries.

1144 Growth in Staff

As a result of a pioneer's dedication, the library profession has often to face frustration in another field as a result of the library being a dependent body. It has been particularly so in India, due to the older generation in positions of power not having had the experience of library service. Further, practically all the libraries are young. They are still at the stage of child-growth. If the staff has sufficient enthusiasm to make the library grow from year to year, it leads to a vexatious situation. The authorities seldom realise how quickly the sanctioned staff is out-numbered. They complain of frequent applications for increase of staff and turn them down. Even with the best of effort, the inadequate staff is unable to render even half the service which they announce and aspire to render. Publicity brings in more readers than can be served and more books than can be organised. The result is complaint and disappointment from all quarters, and ridicule and under-writing by a handful of cynics whose voice drowns the voice of others. Cowardly and selfish librarians feel frustrated and begin to drift at the risk of the library repelling readers. I have seen this phenomenon recur in library after library in the East and in the West alike. Till recently, I had taken this to be as providential and inexorable as an earthquake. Of late, I am able to see some light and think of some means of averting this form of frustration in the growth of a young library and in the spirit of a hard working enthusiastic, pioneering staff who put service above self-interests. The means I recommend is that library authorities should once for all agree to a mathematical formula for the staff of library interests in terms of the out-turn of work. Once this formula is accepted, the alteration in the strength of the staff would become mechanical and impersonal. There need not be a recurring opportunity for the play of cynicism and vexation.
This formula is based on my own personal experience in the Madras University Library. I was led to its formulation by my having been invited from 1945 onwards by several libraries for advice on this very question of staff. It was first published in 1948. Since then it has been tested in several places both in India and abroad. It is said to have given satisfaction.

1145 Staff Formula


A = Number of volumes Accessioned in a year.
B = Annual Budget allotment in Rupees.
D = Number of periodicals Documented -- that is, abstracted and indexed in a year.
G = Number of Gate-Hours for a year. (One Gate-Hour = One counter gate kept open for one hour.)
H = Number of Hours the library is kept open in a day.
P = Number of Periodicals currently taken.
R = Number of Readers per day.
S = Number of Seats for readers.
V = Number of Volumes in the library.
W = Number of Working days in a year.

[X] = X, if X is one integer.
      = The Integer just greater than X, if its fractional part is greater than .25.
      = The Integer just smaller than X, if its fractional part is not greater than .25.

SB = Number of persons in Book Section.
SC = Number of persons in Circulation Section.
SL = Number of persons as Librarian and his Deputies.
SM = Number of persons in Maintenance Section.
SP = Number of persons in Periodicals Section.
SR = Number of persons in Reference Section.
ST = Number of persons in Technical -- that is Classification and Cataloguing -- Section.

Formulae for Staff of Different Sections

SB = A/6000.
SC = G/1500.
SL = HW/1500.
SM = A/3000.
SP = P/500.
SR = [R/50]W/250.
ST = (A+40D)/2000.

Formula for Total Professional Staff

= {3(A+20D)+2(G+3P)+2W(H+6[R/50])}/3000.

Formula for Non-Professional Skilled Staff


Formula for Unskilled Staff

= {27A+2(B+120D)+40(G+3P)+30,000[S/100]

115 As The Library Grows

The question may be asked of what use is an elaborate functional analysis in planning the administrative work of a small library, run by one man -- a type that is numerically the greatest in the world. My answer is that even a do-all librarian can discharge his duties with greater ease, thoroughness, and efficiency, if he knows the different functions to be performed, the different jobs to be attended to, and the sequence in which they should be taken up. A well thought-out time- table for the jobs is quite necessary. Again, there is the Fifth Law of Library Science, "A library is a growing organism" [8]. The small library of today will soon grow in size and in staff. As it grows, the need for functional planning will become increasingly felt.

1151 Progressive Delegation

As the library outgrows being a one-man concern, a librarian finds that he must delegate to assistants those parts of the work which exceed his own capacity. At first he usually shares with his assistants much of the administrative routine. As the library grows still further, he delegates the entire function of performance. He has professional assistants, non-professional staff and unskilled staff to work under his orders. This stage is reached, we may say, when the strength of the staff grows beyond twenty. Still later, even the work of supervision becomes too great in volume and he is obliged to content himself more and more with indicating plans and objectives, leaving it to the experience of his assistants to find ways of carrying out his plans. This stage is reached as the strength of the staff approaches one hundred. The diagram at the beginning of this part shows the way in which the functions involved in the administration of a library get divided and subdivided as the staff increases. The diagram presents also an articulated view of the different functions.

116 Inequality in Functions

1161 Time Required

Just as all the functions devolve on the do-all librarian at the earliest stage, it is obvious that one and the same person will have to perform more than one function until the staff grows to a sufficient size. Further, all the functions are not of equal magnitude. Hence, two or more of the lighter functions may be assigned to one member of the staff while some of the heavier functions will have, at the same time, to be entrusted to a section of staff consisting of two or more members. This inequality is the result of the unequal demand on time made by the different functions.

1162 Ability Required

There is yet another inequality among the functions. Some functions are of a routine and mechanical nature. Other functions may exact physical exertion. Some are of a high academic order; while, still others are, in addition to being of an academic nature, dependent for their satisfactory performance on the entire personality of the staff responsible for it.

1163 Number Required

Thus the sections into which the staff of a library will have to be divided will vary considerably in numerical strength. The equipment, the aptitude, and the higher qualities of the members constituting them will also have to vary.

117 Factors in Planning

Before leaving this chapter, it may be stated that the first part of most of the chapters of Parts 2 and 3 will be entitled "Planning". It will enumerate the Factors with reference to which the work of the section should be planned. The characteristic forming the basis of the analysis of the factors involved in the function will vary with the function i.e. will be different in different chapters. Again all the factors may not give rise to the same amount of work or to an equal number of jobs.

[p. 633 p.p.]


-- 1 The reference after the serial number is to the number of the section in this book, where the reference occurs.
-- 2 The following contractions are used:
Five Laws = Ranganathan (S R). Five laws of library science. Ed 2. 1957. (Madras Library Association, publication series, 23.)

-- 6. Sec 111. Ranganathan (S R). Prolegomena to library classification. Ed 2. 1957. Chap 13 to 18. Sec 221, 231. Chap 24 to 28. Sec 621, 631, 662, 678.
-- 7. Sec 1143. Headicar (B M). Manual of library organisation. (Library Association series of library manuals, 7). 1935. 9.
-- 8. Sec 115. Five Laws. Chap 7.


Creato 2001-02-22, ultimo aggiornamento 2001-02-22, testo di Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, trascritto a scopo di studio a cura di Eugenio Gatto e Claudio Gnoli.
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