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One-stop shopping for library basics.

The basics

Did you ever wonder how we know where to find things on the library shelves? The SVC library, like many libraries all over the world, uses the Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) to organize our resources.

Before Melvil Dewey standardized things in 1876, different libraries organized their materials in very different ways. Even within one library there would be different systems, sometimes even just by just adding new books to the end of the collection or sticking them on a shelf where they fit.

Books were often just assigned a number according to the order in which they were acquired. or where they were on the shelf. Then Dewey came up with a system where a number corresponded to a subject area. This allows a user to look in one area for all the books on a particular topic.

Dewey's use of decimal numbers means the DDC is infinitely expandable. For example, he created a category for nursing, but he had no idea we’d one day have simulation technology. A decimal system allows for subdividing existing categories and adding new numbers.

What do the numbers mean?

Breakdown:

010  Bibliography
020  Library & information sciences
030  General encyclopedic works
040  (Not used)
050  General serials & their indexes
060  General organizations & museology
070  News media, journalism, publishing
080  General collections
090  Manuscripts & rare books

Breakdown:

110  Metaphysics
120  Epistemology, causation, humankind
130  Paranormal phenomena
140  Specific philosophical schools
150  Psychology
160  Logic
170  Ethics (Moral philosophy)
180  Ancient, medieval, Oriental philosophy
190  Modern Western philosophy

Breakdown:

210  Natural theology
220  Bible
230  Christian theology
240  Christian moral & devotional theology
250  Christian orders & local church
260  Christian social theology
270  Christian church history
280  Christian denominations & sects
290  Other & comparative religions

Librarian's note: Do you see anything wrong with this category?

Breakdown:

310  General statistics
320  Political science
330  Economics
340  Law
350  Public administration
360  Social services; association
370  Education
380  Commerce, communications, transport
390  Customs, etiquette, folklore

Breakdown:

410  Linguistics
420  English & Old English
430  Germanic languages; German
440  Romance languages; French
450  Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romantic
460  Spanish & Portuguese languages
470  Italic languages; Latin
480  Hellenic languages; Classical Greek
490  Other languages

Breakdown:

510  Mathematics
520  Astronomy & allied sciences
530  Physics
540  Chemistry & allied sciences
550  Earth sciences
560  Paleontology; Paleozoology
570  Life sciences
580  Botanical sciences
590  Zoological sciences

Breakdown:

610  Medical sciences; Medicine
620  Engineering & allied operations
630  Agriculture
640  Home economics & family living
650  Management & auxiliary services
660  Chemical engineering
670  Manufacturing
680  Manufacture for specific uses
690  Buildings

Breakdown:

710  Civic & landscape art
720  Architecture
730  Plastic arts; Sculpture
740  Drawing & decorative arts
750  Painting & paintings
760  Graphic arts; Printmaking & prints
770  Photography & photographs
780  Music
790  Recreation & performing arts

Breakdown:

810  American lit. in English
820  English & Old English lit.
830  Literatures of Germanic languages
840  Literatures of Romantic languages
850  Italian, Romanian, Rhaeto-Romantic
860  Spanish & Portuguese lit.
870  Italian lit.; Latin
880  Hellenic literatures; Classical Greek
890  Literatures of other languages

Breakdown:

910  Geography & travel
920  Biography, genealogy, insignia
930  History of ancient world
940  General history of Europe
950  General history of Asia; Far East
960  General history of Africa
970  General history of North America
980  General history of South America
990  General history of other areas

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