library - The Dewey Decimal system (2022)

The best known of all schemes for the classification of documents in libraries is the Dewey Decimal Classification, devised by Melvil Dewey in 1873 and published in 1876. Apart from being the first modern classification scheme for libraries, the Dewey system embodies two of Dewey’s many contributions to the theory and practice of librarianship. First, he recognized that a systematic arrangement of books on shelves should make sense to the users; his scheme therefore reflected the dominant pattern of current thinking, exemplified by the “classificatory sciences.” And second, he used decimals as notation symbols, which illustrated the way in which subjects were divided hierarchically, from main classes to specific topics. An example from the schedule for chemistry shows how numbers are subdivided:

  • 540 chemistry and allied sciences

  • 541 physical and theoretical chemistry

    (Video) How to Understand the Dewey Decimal System

  • 541.2 theoretical chemistry

  • 541.3 physical chemistry

  • 541.34 solutions

  • 541.35 photochemistry

  • 542 laboratories, apparatus, equipment

    (Video) The Dewey Decimal System, Explained

Another feature of the Dewey system is the mnemonics used for certain types of subdivisions. Thus, many subjects can be subdivided geographically by the use of the historical-geographic number as decimals:

  • 900 general geography and history

  • 970 history of North America

  • 973 history of the United States

Combining with the art schedule, the number for history of art in the United States is obtained:

(Video) Introduction to the Dewey Decimal System

  • 700 the arts

  • 709 history of art

  • 709.73 history of art in the United States

The Dewey Decimal system and the Library of Congress system, mentioned below, are the classification schemes most frequently used in North American libraries.

The Universal Decimal system

The Universal Decimal Classification, published in 1905 and preferred by scientific and technical libraries, was an immediate offspring of the Dewey system. Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine adapted the Dewey system as the basis for a much more detailed scheme suitable for use in a vast card index of books and periodical articles in classified order—a universal bibliography of recorded knowledge. While retaining the basic generic hierarchies, the Universal Decimal Classification makes far greater use of the technique of synthesis, by providing a series of auxiliary tables for aspects of subjects likely to appear in several parts of the main schedules. These tables are indicated by the use of symbols such as punctuation marks. The colon sign (:) indicates a relationship between any parts and is the most commonly used sign. The numeral 669.1 being the notation for iron and steel and 546.22 for sulfur, the compound subject can be indicated by the notation 669.1:546.22, sulfur in iron and steel.

Like the Dewey Decimal Classification, the Universal Decimal Classification has been translated into many languages, and it is in use in many European and Asian libraries. European libraries, in particular, have emphasized classification systems over subject heading systems, basing their subject catalogs on the classification system, with an alphabetic index to class numbers. The revision of the Universal Decimal Classification has become a responsibility of the International Federation for Information and Documentation (Fédération Internationale d’Information et de Documentation; FID).

(Video) Library of Congress Classification system vs. Dewey Decimal Classification system

The Library of Congress system

At the turn of the 20th century Herbert Putnam, the Librarian of Congress, decided to reclassify the library but rejected the Dewey system. His staff adopted a more pragmatic approach based entirely on the way in which the books were arranged in their subjects on the shelves. They also rejected the decimal notation, preferring a purely ordinal system combining letters and numbers, leaving blank spaces where they expected new subjects to develop. (Not all of their expectations have proved correct.) American libraries and some scholarly libraries elsewhere have found the scheme attractive for its depth of detail, inasmuch as it is based on a very large library. An additional advantage is that Library of Congress notations appear on the library’s catalog cards and on computer tapes produced by the MARC project. It uses both alphabet letters and numbers for its classification codes.

The Bliss system

Although not widely used, the bibliographic classification system invented by Henry E. Bliss of the College of the City of New York (published in 1935 as A System of Bibliographic Classification) has made important contributions to the theory of classification, particularly in Bliss’s acute perception of the role of synthesis and his insistence that a library scheme should reflect the organization of knowledge and the system of the sciences. His systematic auxiliary schedules, designed to achieve what he called composite specification, carry the synthetic principle into every subject area and give a far higher degree of flexibility than does a purely enumerative scheme such as the Library of Congress system. The Bliss Classification Association, founded in the United Kingdom in 1967, promotes the use and development of the Bliss classification scheme.

The Colon system

Perhaps the most important advance in classification theory has been made by the Indian librarian S.R. Ranganathan, whose extraordinary output of books and articles has left its mark on the entire range of studies from archival science to information science. He introduced the term facet analysis to denote the technique of dividing a complex subject into its several parts by relating them to a set of five fundamental categories of abstract notions, which he called personality, energy, matter, space, and time. He employed these in his Colon Classification system (1933), which is used in some Indian libraries but has found few followers elsewhere. Nevertheless, the ideas in the scheme, expounded in his Colon Classification (1933) and Prolegomena to Library Classification (1937), have influenced all later work in classification theory and practice, including subsequent editions of the Dewey, Universal, and Bliss systems.

The Marxist system

In China a scheme has been published that departs somewhat from the Anglo-American traditions and claims to reflect the structure of knowledge according to the principles of Marxist philosophy. It has an enumerative structure and may be distinguished by its detail of analysis of, and dependence on, the corpus of Marxist literature—a literature that, in Anglo-American schemes, usually occupies a relatively minor place.

Preservation

One model of library service is that collections are used so extensively that the materials disintegrate from heavy use. Librarians who espouse this ideal maintain that libraries are for use and that any materials not in active use should be removed from the collection, a process known as weeding. A competing model holds that much of the world’s great literature is available to be read chiefly because libraries of the past preserved that literature. This model encourages the preservation of materials so that the intellectual and cultural heritage received and created by the current generation can be transmitted to future generations.

Libraries most active in the area of preservation are usually large research libraries, which have the largest collections and perhaps the greatest concern for future users. On the whole most libraries try to strike a balance between maximizing current use and preserving materials for future use. In recent decades, the move toward preservation of library materials has been given additional impetus by the discovery that much 19th- and 20th-century paper retains acid introduced in the manufacturing process and that this acid, combined with the effects of air pollution, is causing many books to disintegrate as they sit on library shelves.

(Video) How we Ddc library classification II Dewey decimal system||library and information science lis

Reformatting

In response to this problem, libraries have developed several preservation strategies. The most important method of preserving library materials has been reformatting. Brittle and crumbling books and photographs are preserved by photographing them on microfilm or, in some cases, by using scanners to create digital images on magnetic or optical disc. These less vulnerable formats can then be preserved in archives. Reformatting also enables the inclusion of library materials in other media, such as multimedia information services. The drawback of this process, of course, is the issue of technological obsolescence. If reformatting relies on technology that becomes obsolete, the preservation effort is seriously compromised. The task of reformatting all materials that used acidic paper, nitrate films, or other degradable materials is monumental, generally requiring cooperation between many libraries and a substantial infusion of government funds.

Deacidification

In certain cases, reformatting is not the best solution to the problem of disintegration. The original material may have intrinsic value as an artifact, or it may lose some of its information in the reformatting process. In such cases, paper materials are deacidified by one of a number of chemical processes, some of which can also strengthen paper that has already been weakened. Mass deacidification of paper is an increasingly important part of preservation.

Future-conscious manufacturing

The most sensible solution to the preservation of books and journals for future use is the adoption of nonacidic paper by publishers. Many paper plants have begun to make a nonacidic paper that, with good care, will last for centuries rather than decades. Use of this product for book production will obviate the crumbling away of centuries of intellectual and cultural activity.

FAQs

How is the Dewey Decimal System used in the library? ›

Shelving Items in "Dewey Order" In the Dewey Decimal System, books are filed digit by digit, not by whole number. This means, for example, that our book at 595.789/BRO would come after 595.0123 and before 595.9. And again, after the decimal numbers come the letters from the author's name (or title).

How do I find books in the library Dewey Decimal System? ›

Before the decimal, books are organized in ascending numerical order from 000-999. Books are also organized in ascending order after the decimal; for instance, a book with the call number 700 (no decimal) would precede 700.01, with 700.10 further along the shelf.

What are the 10 Dewey decimal classifications? ›

There are 10 main Dewey Decimal call number classifications or classes.
  • 000 - Computer Science, Information, & General Works.
  • 100 - Philosophy & Psychology.
  • 200 - Religion.
  • 300 - Social Sciences.
  • 400 - Language.
  • 500 - Science.
  • 600 - Technology.
  • 700 - Arts & Recreation.

Is the Dewey Decimal System the same in every library? ›

The top numbers are the same at every library using the Dewey Decimal System; the call numbers below that are unique to our library. Understandably, there are thousands of subcategories.

How do you categorize books in a library? ›

From the Online Catalog to the Shelf

Libraries in the United States generally use either the Library of Congress Classification System (LC) or the Dewey Decimal Classification System to organize their books. Most academic libraries use LC, and most public libraries and K-12 school libraries use Dewey.

Do libraries still use the Dewey Decimal System? ›

Dewey is still by far the most used book organization system in the world. More than 200,000 libraries in 135 countries currently use the system, according to estimates reported by the Chicago Tribune.

What is 398.2 in the Dewey Decimal System? ›

398.2 is the call number for the fairy tale section for the Dewey Decimal System, and it's an adorable, unusual pendant for fairy tale lovers, librarians and book geeks.

How library books are numbered? ›

Each book in the library has a unique call number. A call number is like an address: it tells us where the book is located in the library. Call numbers appear on the spines of books and journals and in the library's catalog. Note that the same call number can be written from top-to-bottom or left-to-right.

Is there an app for Dewey Decimal System? ›

LibraryTools.com mobile app includes a simple book sorting app for both Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal classification systems. The free app includes a simplified practice game. Available free at your favorite app store.

How do I read a Dewey call number? ›

Reading a Dewey Decimal Call Number
  1. Books are arranged sequentially. The first number of a Dewey Decimal call number indicates the general class the call number falls within. ...
  2. Numbers following the first 3 numbers. The numbers define the subject of the book. ...
  3. The Cutter Number is the next set of numbers.
23 Nov 2021

How do I find a Dewey Decimal number? ›

This is how we determine what number we will use. In a new book, the Library of Congress information is often printed in the front of the book. This is the first place to start. The suggested Dewey number will be at the end of the listing and will be a 3 digit number, possibly followed by a decimal and further digits.

What are 700 in Dewey Decimal? ›

Arts & Recreation (700)

What replaced the Dewey Decimal System? ›

The Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) is a brilliant alternative to the Dewey Decimal System. UDC incorporates new developments and new fields of study. As genres and areas of research grow, UDC can neatly catalog them. It is also a system independent of any specific language or script.

How are books arranged in a school library? ›

  1. 1 Organize by Reading Level.
  2. 2 Determine the reading level for each book. Determine the reading level for each book. ...
  3. 3 Sort your books. ...
  4. 4 Place the lowest reading level books. ...
  5. 5 Organize by Genre.
  6. 6 Determine the genre for each book. ...
  7. 7 Sort them by these genres. ...
  8. 8 Dedicate a shelf to each genre.

What are the 7 sections of library setup? ›

Sections in a library are: Acquisition, Technical Processing, Circulation, Reference, Periodicals, Maintenance, and Administration & Finance. Each Section performs specialized library activities.

What is classification of library? ›

A library classification is a system of organization of knowledge by which library resources are arranged and ordered systematically. Library classifications are a notational system that represents the order of topics in the classification and allows items to be stored in that order.

How many types of library classification are there? ›

Classification can be distinguished by type: (1) natural, or fundamental—e.g., books by subject, (2) accidental—e.g., chronological or geographic, and (3) artificial—e.g., by alphabet, linguistic base, form, size, or numerical order.

Do most school libraries use Dewey Decimal System? ›

The Dewey Decimal System is almost universally used as the organizing protocol for all school and public libraries. The location skills the students learn in your school library are directly transferable.

Which is better Dewey decimal or Library of Congress? ›

Since Library of Congress is larger and allows for more call numbers, it is more suitable for large academic and research libraries. Dewey Decimal System, on the other hand, is better for small collections like school libraries.

What are the 3 types of card catalog? ›

There are three kinds of card catalog – the title card, the author card and the subject card.

What does I still believe in 398.2 mean? ›

According to libraries Dewey Decimal System, which all books are shelved in, 398.2 represents the beginning of the fiction/fantasy section of books.

What is the Dewey Decimal for fairy tales? ›

In the world of Dewey Decimal, 398 is where all the folklore and fairy tales hide.

Why are fairy tales in non fiction? ›

Fairy tales and folktales are considered non-fiction?” “Yes. It's because folk tales and the rest emerged from actual cultures. So, they help readers learn about those people.”

What is library class number? ›

: a number or letter (from a classification scheme) assigned to a book or other library material to show its location on the library shelf.

What is ISBN in library? ›

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a national and international standard identification number for uniquely identifying books, i.e., publications that are not intended to continue indefinitely.

How much does WebDewey cost? ›

WebDewey is available for from $225 per year to $575 per year depending on whether or not your library uses OCLC Cataloging services & whether or not you are purchasing a single user or a site license.

What is My library app? ›

MyLibrary! is an iOS and Android app that provides on-the-go access to all of the library's resources, which is a perfect response to the mobile nature of library users.

How does Dewey Decimal Classification System works? ›

It places the books on the shelf by subject using numbers from 000 to 999. It is called "decimal" because it uses numbers to the right of the decimal point for more detail (e.g. 944.1 for History of Brittany). Each subject has its own group of numbers. The system was created by Melvil Dewey in 1876.

How are books arranged in a school library? ›

  1. 1 Organize by Reading Level.
  2. 2 Determine the reading level for each book. Determine the reading level for each book. ...
  3. 3 Sort your books. ...
  4. 4 Place the lowest reading level books. ...
  5. 5 Organize by Genre.
  6. 6 Determine the genre for each book. ...
  7. 7 Sort them by these genres. ...
  8. 8 Dedicate a shelf to each genre.

Why is the Dewey Decimal System important? ›

The Dewey Decimal Classification System is used in most Public School libraries. It is essential for students to understand why books are numbered and how to find the numbers on the shelves, so they can use the library effectively and in a friendly manner.

How does the decimal system work? ›

The decimal number system consists of ten single-digit numbers: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The number after 9 is 10. The number after 19 is 20 and so forth. Additional powers of 10 require the addition of another positional digit.

What is Dewey Decimal System example? ›

In the Dewey Decimal System, books are filed digit by digit, not by whole number. This means, for example, that our book at 595.789/BROC would come after 595.0123 and before 595.9. In our collection, Biographies do not use the 921 Dewey number, but rather the letter “B” for biography.

What replaced the Dewey Decimal System? ›

The Universal Decimal Classification (UDC) is a brilliant alternative to the Dewey Decimal System. UDC incorporates new developments and new fields of study. As genres and areas of research grow, UDC can neatly catalog them. It is also a system independent of any specific language or script.

How do you read Dewey Decimal? ›

Reading a Dewey Decimal Call Number
  1. Books are arranged sequentially. The first number of a Dewey Decimal call number indicates the general class the call number falls within. ...
  2. Numbers following the first 3 numbers. The numbers define the subject of the book. ...
  3. The Cutter Number is the next set of numbers.
23 Nov 2021

What should a school library contain? ›

School libraries are similar to public libraries in that they contain books, films, recorded sound, periodicals, realia, and digital media. These items are not only for the education, enjoyment, and entertainment of all members of the school community, but also to enhance and expand the school's curriculum.

How many books should be in a school library? ›

A library book recommendation of 1300 quality copies should be provided in schools with fewer than 100 students. To be classified as a library, a room should contain at least five hundred books. Based on their findings, every school with 500 or more students has between 10,001 and 15,000 books in common stock.

How do you organize library shelves? ›

Rule of thumb, according to Klugh: Put heavier objects, like art books or storage bins, on the bottom of the shelves. Lighter objects, like paperbacks, should go toward the top. "You want to feel like it's well rounded," Klugh says of the bookshelf.

What was Dewey's greatest contribution to library classification? ›

He introduced the term facet analysis to denote the technique of dividing a complex subject into its several parts by relating them to a set of five fundamental categories of abstract notions, which he called personality, energy, matter, space, and time.

What is the meaning of Dewey? ›

What is the meaning of the name Dewey? The name Dewey is primarily a male name of Welsh origin that means Beloved. An Anglocized version of the Welsh name Dewi and a form of the name David. "Dewey Decimal System" is a system to organize books in a library, invented by Melvil Dewey in 1876.

Was the Dewey Decimal System Successful? ›

From its inception in a college library in 1876 to global applications in both online and brick-and-mortar environments, the Dewey Decimal System continues to hold merit. Its inventor was successful in creating a universal and simple system for organizing works and communicating their locations.

Why is the decimal system important? ›

We use decimals every day while dealing with money, weight, length etc. Decimal numbers are used in situations where more precision is required than the whole numbers can provide. For example, when we calculate our weight on the weighing machine, we do not always find the weight equal to a whole number on the scale.

How can I learn decimals easily? ›

Math Basics: Decimals - YouTube

What is another name for the decimal number system? ›

decimal system, also called Hindu-Arabic number system or Arabic number system, in mathematics, positional numeral system employing 10 as the base and requiring 10 different numerals, the digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. It also requires a dot (decimal point) to represent decimal fractions.

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5. The Library Minute: Dewey Decimal System
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6. Nonfiction and the Dewey Decimal System
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