Theory Article

The Five Laws of OER: Observations from Ranganathan

  • Talea Anderson (Washington State University)
  • Jylisa Doney (University of Idaho)
  • Beth Hendrix orcid logo (University of Idaho)
  • Jessica Martinez orcid logo (University of Idaho)
  • Rick Stoddart orcid logo (Lane Community College)
  • Meggie Wright (Lane Community College)


Siyali Ramamrita Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science (1931) has long served as a philosophy for the practice of librarianship. The original five laws remain relevant almost ninety years after they were originally proposed (Ranganathan, 1931). As new modes of information and access, as well as resources and technology, have come into existence, these laws have remained flexible and open to adaptation. However, extant library literature has not yet situated Ranganathan’s Laws within the context of open educational resources (OER). As freely accessible teaching and learning resources, OER reflect the core values of Ranganathan’s Laws; further, viewing OER through Ranganathan’s lens offers new opportunities for librarians to situate their OER work within one of the discipline’s most foundational philosophies. The following sections introduce Ranganathan’s Five Laws and their recent adaptations and provide a new interpretation of these laws within the context of OER. The implications for situating OER within Ranganathan’s Five Laws are also shared.

Keywords: open educational resources (OER), Ranganathan, academic libraries, college students, textbooks

How to Cite:

Anderson, T., Doney, J., Hendrix, B., Martinez, J., Stoddart, R. & Wright, M., (2019) “The Five Laws of OER: Observations from Ranganathan”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 7(1). doi:

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Published on
20 Aug 2019
Peer Reviewed