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					        DEWEY? WE DO!
Decoding the mysteries of the Dewey Decimal
                  System.
                                   SO MANY BOOKS!!
                                   HOW DO I FIND THE ONE I
                                   WANT?
Think of a room full of books. They’re not in any order. Big ones and
small ones, paperbacks and hardcovers, a book about dinosaurs next to a
cookbook next to a dictionary. It might be fun to browse through a mess
like that—but it would be almost impossible if there were one particular
book you wanted to find.
 In the late 1800s, a librarian named Melvil Dewey developed a way to
 organize books in a library so they’d be easier to find.
 There are lots of subjects books can be about. Some subjects have nothing
 in common—like wolves and cookbooks. Others are very similar—like
 flowers and trees.




Dewey grouped all the similar subjects together. He settled on ten big groups of subjects. Then he assigned a number
to those big subjects. This first basic classification looks like this:
000 General Knowledge
Almanacs, Encyclopedias, Libraries, Museums, Newspapers ...
100 Psychology and Philosophy
Death & Dying, Ethics, Feelings, Logic, Making Friends, Optical Illusions, Superstitions ...
200 Religions and Mythology
Amish, Bible Stories, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Quakers, and other world religions;
Greek, Roman and other myths...
300 Social Sciences and Folklore
Careers, Customs, Environment, Families, Folktales, Government, Manners, Money, Recycling ...
400 Languages and Grammar
Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Sign Language, Spanish. Includes
dictionaries.
500 Math and Science
Animals, Biology, Chemistry, Dinosaurs, Fish, Geology, Insects, Physics, Planets, Plants ...
600 Medicine and Technology
Computers, Cookbooks, Engineering, Farming, Health, Human Body, Inventions, Manufacturing,
Nutrition ...
700 Arts & Recreation
Architecture, Crafts, Drawing, Games, Jokes, Music, Puppets, Songbooks, Sports ...
800 Literature
Children's Literature, Plays, Poetry, Shakespeare, Writing ...
900 Geography and History
Biographies, Countries, Native Americans, States, Travel, Wars ...
Then Dewey broke the big subjects down into smaller subjects by dividing the big, “hundreds” numbers
into smaller, “tens” numbers. Similar subjects were assigned numbers that were close together.
000   Generalities
010 Bibliography
      Library & information
020
      science
030 General encyclopedias
040 Not used
050 General serial publications
060 Organizations
      Journalism, publishing,
070
      media
080 General collections
090 Manuscripts & rare books
100   Philosophy & Pscyhology
110 Metaphysics
120 Epistemology, causation, humankind
130 Paranormal phenomenon
140 Specific philosophical schools
150 Psychology
160 Logic
170 Ethics
      Ancient, medieval, Oriental
180
      philosophy
190 Modern western philosophy
200   Religion
210 Philosophy & theory of religion
220 Bible
230 Christianity
240 Christian moral & devotional theology
250 Christian orders & local church
260 Social & ecclesiastical theology
270 History of Christianity & Christian sects
280 Christian denominations
290 Comparative religion & other religions
300   Social Sciences
310 Statistics
320 Political science
330 Economics
340 Law
      Public administration & military
350
      science
360 Social programs & services
370 Education
380 Commerce
390 Customs, etiquette, folklore
400   Language
410 Linguisitics
420 English & Old English
430 Germanic
440 French
      Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-
450
      Romanic
460 Spanish & Portuguese
470 Latin
480 Greek
490 Other languages
500   Natural Sciences & Math
510   Math
520   Astronomy
530   Physics
540   Chemistry
550   Earth sciences
560   Paleontology
570   Life sciences
580   Plants
590   Animals
600   Technology & Applied Sciences
610   Medicine
620   Engineering
630   Agriculture
640   Home economics (cooking)
650   Management
660   Chemical engineering
670   Manufacturing
680   Manufacture for specific uses
690   Building
700   Arts, Sports, Recreation
710 Civic & landscape art
720 Architecture
730 Plastic arts (sculpture)
740 Drawing & decorative art
750 Painting
760 Graphic arts
770 Photography
780 Music
      Recreation, performing arts,
790
      sports
800   Literature & Rhetoric
810   American
820   English & Old English
830   Germanic
840   French
850   Italian, Romanian
860   Spanish, Portuguese
870   Latin
880   Greek
890   Other literatures
900   Geography, History, Biography
910   Geography, travel
920   Biography, genealogy, insignia
930   Ancient world
940   Europe
950   Asia
960   Africa
970   North America
980   South America
990   Other areas
But even these divisions were not enough. For instance, Mr. Dewey assigned the number 980 to
the continent of South America. But there are many countries in that big continent. The system
Mr. Dewey designed was flexible enough to allow for a separate number for different countries
and regions:

980 General history of South America
981 Brazil
982 Argentina
983 Chile
984 Bolivia
985 Peru
986 Colombia & Ecuador
987 Venezuela
988 Guiana
989 Paraguay & Uruguay
Mr. Dewey’s classification system allows librarians to divide the numbers that are used to describe
subjects even further by using decimals—which is why we call it the Dewey DECIMAL System.
For instance, 362 is the number assigned to social problems. But there are all sorts of problems in
society. So the number is divided again:
             362.1    Social aspects of health problems like AIDS
             362.2   Social aspects of mental illness
             362.4   Social aspects of physical disabilities like
                           blindness
             362.5          Poverty and homelessness
             362.6   Social issues of the elderly
             362.7   Social issues of children and teens
             362.8   Social issues of families, including
domestic violence
             362.9   Military draft
Librarians can continue to create smaller and smaller divisions using the decimal numbers.
For instance, 582.1 is the number for plants with seeds. But there are different kinds of plants with seeds,
such as trees and flowers. So, in the Dewey Decimal System, there can be slightly different numbers for
flowers and trees:
            582.13       Flowers
            582.16       Trees
Books about flowers and trees would be very close together on a library shelf, because their Dewey numbers
both begin with “582.” But books about flowers would be right next to each other, followed by books
about trees a little further down the shelf.
In really large libraries that have many, many books about plants, the numbers could be even more specific:
just for oak trees, or just for roses, for example.
IS THERE A PAGE ABOUT LIBRARIES IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD
                           RECORDS?



          "Next Time Someone Asks You Where the 300s Are"
"Staff members at Northwestern University Library Cataloging Department
   have identified what is believed to be the longest Dewey number ever
 under serious consideration for assignment: a 23-digit monster for ARAB
           ATTITUDES TOWARD ISRAEL by Yehoshafat Harkabi,
 301.1543012917492705694. The meaning of the number can be broken
    down as follows: 301-Sociology, 1543-Opinions, attitudes, beliefs on
      specific topics (Add 001-999); 301-Sociology; 29-Historical and
 geographical treatment (Add "areas"); 174-Region where specific racial,
  ethnic, national groups predominate (Add from Table 5); 927-Arabs and
 Maltese; 0-General relations between two countries (Add "areas"); 5694-
 Palestine, Israel. In other words: Historical and geographical treatment of
 opinions on countries where Arabs predominate, and their relations with
                                    Israel."
   Sometimes it can be confusing to figure out how Dewey Decimal Numbers work on the library shelves.
   HINT: THINK MONEY!!!! AS IN DOLLARS AND CENTS!!!
   A high percentage of books have Dewey numbers that just extend to the hundredths place—two digits past the
   decimal point. This makes the numbers look a lot like prices, without the dollar sign!
   So, if you aren’t sure whether 919.65 is shelved before or after 919.57, THINK MONEY. Which is larger,
   $919.65, or $919.57? Remember that Dewey numbers get larger to your right and smaller to your left when
   you’re standing in the stacks (which is what librarians call shelving). So on the shelf, those two books will look
   like this:




($919.57)                                                                                    ($919.65)
                         919.57                                          919.65
Here in the BMHS library media center, while we use the Dewey Decimal System to organize our books
and other materials, we DO take a few liberties.
For example, some libraries designate biographies (books about people’s lives) with 920; others with 921;
others with B. Here we use 92 for biographies.
Also, Mr. Dewey wasn’t really thinking about popular novels when he created his system. He placed
Fiction in with Literature—the 800s. Most school and public libraries choose not to do this. Here at
BMHS, we use F or FIC to designate Fiction.
In many school library media centers, there is another way the Dewey Decimal System gets “tweaked.” There
can be many books on the same subject, like dinosaurs, or weather, or the American Revolution. All these
books would have the same Dewey Decimal Number. And sometimes you don’t want just ANY book about
dinosaurs, you want the ones by Don Lessem. So printed just below the Dewey number on the spine of the
book (see Parts of a Book tutorial) there are three letters: the first three letters of the author’s last name. The
combination of the Dewey Decimal Number plus the letters makes up the book’s “call number.”
                                                                                                                      567.9
Fiction works the same way: on the spine you’ll see F or FIC on the top line, and the first three letters of the      LES
author’s last name below. A novel by Walter Dean Myers has the “call number” FIC MYE.
Biographies are a little different. In BMHS, the Dewey Decimal Number is 92. The three letters below the 92
are the first three letters of the SUBJECT’s last name, not the author’s. So all the books about Eminem have the
same call number: 92 EMI. And they’re right next to each other on the shelf.

                                                                                                                      FIC
                                                                                                                      MYE




                                                                                                                      92
                                                                                                                      EMI
The Dewey Decimal System is not the only way to organize libraries. But it is the one used
most often in public and school libraries.
College and university libraries often choose the Library of Congress system instead of Dewey.
LC uses combinations of letters instead of numbers to designate subjects. Libraries that receive
many documents from the government, like copies of Congressional bills, use a system called
Superintendent of Documents. And collections of musical recordings may be organized by
ANSCR, or the Alpha-Numeric for Classification of Recordings, which uses combinations of
letters to stand for genres of music, like symphonies or opera or jazz.
 Finally, always remember: IF YOU NEED
HELP FINDING WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING
FOR IN THE LIBRARY, ASK A LIBRARIAN!

				
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