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This is the "Dewey Decimal System" page of the "Webster Library Orientation" guide.
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Last Updated: May 17, 2011 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Dewey Decimal System Print Page

Dewey Review


What About Fiction

Fiction titles are arranged in alphabetical order by the author's last name.


Dewey Decimal Rap


What Does Dewey do?

In a nutshell, the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC) is a method of arranging non-fiction materials by subject. The system groups all subjects into ten main classes. Each class has ten divisions and each division may be broken down further by adding a decimal point and then more numbers. This allows very specific subjects to be shelved together. For example:

973 American History

973.7 Civil War

973.73 Civil War Battles


Dewey Overview

People often ask if libraries still use Dewey Decimal.  The answer is, "yes!". While the card catalog, the set of drawers holding small book cards labeled with author, title, and subject headings, is nearly obsolete, the Dewey Decimal classification system is still used by most school and public libraries. It is simply a system for organizing all knowledge into categories according to subject matter.

Dewey Decimal is based on a series of ten:  ten categories to represent all recorded knowledge, and ten categories within each of the original ten to provide more specific classification.

An overview of the Dewey Decimal system:

000 - Generalities
100 - Philosophy and Psychology
200 - Religion
300 - Social Sciences
400 - Language
500 - Natural Sciences and Mathematics
600 - Technology (Including Applied Sciences)
700 - The Arts (Including Sports)
800 - Literature and Rhetoric
900 - Geography and History (Including Biography)


Melvil Dewey


Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was born on December 10, 1851 in a small northern town in New York. He shortened his first name to Melvil as a young adult, dropped his middle names and, for a short time, spelled his last name as Dui.

Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system when he was 21 years old. At the time, he was working as an assistant in the library at Amherst College. Dewey's classification system changed library science and the way libraries cataloged their collections. Melvil Dewey is called the “Father of Modern Librarianship.”

Melvil Dewey died after suffering a stroke on December 26, 1931 at age 80. Seven decades after his death, he is still primarily known for the Dewey Decimal Classification, the most widely used library classification system in the world.


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