Librarian in the Library

Following the path of one assistant into full librarianship

Dewey Decimal

In the UK and America (and other English speaking countries), a common way of organising libraries is done by the Dewey decimal classification, mostly for non-fiction texts. Whilst fiction books can be assign a Dewey decimal number (823 is English Fiction), then tend to be organised alphabetically by author’s last name in their own separate section.

The Dewey decimal classification works by assigning each book a number based on it’s subject area. The hundreds number represents broad areas, the ten digits sub categories, the ones digit sub divisions, and anything after the decimal point is a further division. Look at this example:

  • 500 Science
    • 510 Mathematics
      • 516 Geometry
        • 516.3 Analytic geometrics
          • 516.37 Metric different geometries
            • 516.375 Finsler Geometry

The system was invented by Melvil Dewey, who had the idea whilst working in a college library, and published the first pamphlet about the system in 1876. Is has since grown from a small pamphlet into a four (hefty) volume system (although an abridged version for smaller libraries is available), using the theory that books on related subject are placed near each other. This is different to the system of Dewey’s own time, where libraries would shelve books according to size and acquisition date. As libraries become more open to the public, the notion of browsing became more popular, and the Dewey system grew and grew.

Not every number is currently in use, to allow for new subject areas to develop. After all, computer science was not a subject when Dewey first thought up the system.

Classes

  • 000 Computer science, information & general works
    • 000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
    • 010 Bibliographies
    • 020 Library & information sciences
    • 030 Encyclopaedias & books of fact
    • 040 [Unassigned]
    • 050 Magazines, journals & serials
    • 060 Associations, organisations & museums
    • 070 News media, journalism & publishing
    • 080 Quotations
    • 090 Manuscripts and Rare books
  • 100 Philosophy and psychology
    • 100 Philosophy
    • 110 Metaphysics
    • 120 Epistemology
    • 130 Parapsychology & occultism
    • 140 Philosophical schools of thought
    • 150 Psychology
    • 160 Logic
    • 170 Ethics
    • 180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
    • 190 Modern western philosophy
  • 200 Religion
    • 200 Religion
    • 210 Philosophy & theory of religion
    • 220 The Bible
    • 230 Christianity & Christian theology
    • 240 Christian practice & observance
    • 250 Christian pastoral practice & religious orders
    • 260 Christian organisation , social work & worship
    • 270 History of Christianity
    • 280 Christian denominations
    • 290 Other religions
  • 300 Social Sciences
    • 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
    • 310 Statistics
    • 320 Political science
    • 330 Economics
    • 340 Law
    • 350 Public administration & military science
    • 360 Social problems & social services
    • 370 Education
    • 380 Commerce, etiquette & folklore
    • 390 Customs, etiquette & folklore
  • 400 Language
    • 400 Language
    • 410 Linguistics
    • 420 English & Old English languages
    • 430 German & related languages
    • 440 French & related languages
    • 450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
    • 460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
    • 470 Latin & Italic languages
    • 480 Classical & modern Greek languages
    • 490 Other languages
  • 500 Science
    • 500 Science
    • 510 Mathematics
    • 520 Astronomy
    • 530 Physics
    • 540 Chemistry
    • 550 Earth sciences & geology
    • 560 Fossils & prehistoric life
    • 570 Life sciences; biology
    • 580 Plants (Botany)
    • 590 Animals (Zoology)
  • 600 Technology
    • 600 Technology
    • 610 Medicine & health
    • 620 Engineering
    • 630 Agriculture
    • 640 Home & family management
    • 650 Management & public relations
    • 660 Chemical engineering
    • 670 Manufacturing
    • 680 Manufacture for specific uses
    • 690 Building and construction
  • 700 Arts & recreation
    • 700 Arts
    • 710 Landscaping & area planning
    • 720 Architecture
    • 730 Sculpture, ceramics & metalwork
    • 740 Drawing & decorative arts
    • 750 Painting
    • 760 Graphic arts
    • 770 Photography & computer art
    • 780 Music
    • 790 Sports, games & entertainment
  • 800 Literature
    • 800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
    • 810 American literature in English
    • 820 English & Old English literatures
    • 830 German & related literatures
    • 840 French & related literatures
    • 850 Italian, Romanian & related literatures
    • 860 Spanish & Portuguese literatures
    • 870 Latin & Italic literatures
    • 880 Classical & modern Greek literatures
    • 890 Other literatures
  • 900 History & geography
    • 900 History
    • 910 Geography & travel
    • 920 Biography & genealogy
    • 930 History of ancient world (to ca. 499)
    • 940 History of Europe
    • 950 History of Asia
    • 960 History of Africa
    • 970 History of North America
    • 980 History of South America
    • 990 History of other areas

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