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Southern Vermont College Library


How to use the Library

Using the Dewey Decimal System

Did you ever wonder how we know where to find things on the library shelves? The SVC Library, like many libraries, uses the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Each number on the spines of our books corresponds to a subject area. This allows a user to look in one area for all the books on a particular topic. See the tabs below to learn what the numbers mean.


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


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


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?


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Anatomy of a Book

What is it?  
A list of the sections and/or chapters in the book.

Where is it? 
At the front of the book.

How is it organized? 
Listed in the order in which they appear.

Example of how to use it: 
Use the table of contents when you are looking for a broad subject area. For example, you have a general book on criminal justice, and want to find the chapter on community policing.

What is it?
A collection of notes (usually numbered) that the author refers to throughout the book. These are similar in concept to the in-text citations you create in your papers. (But they are not exactly the same. See examples below for further explanation.)

Where is it? 
Throughout the text of the book, you may see numbers after a word, sentence, or paragraph. These numbers refer to the notes. You may find notes in one of the following places:

  • Newer books tend to list all “endnotes” at the back of the book.
  • Older books tend to have “footnotes” at the bottom of individual pages.

How is it organized?

  • Endnotes will be grouped by chapter, and ordered by number, in the order in which they appear in the book.
  • Footnotes are numbered the same way but appear at the bottom (or “foot”) of the page where they are cited.

Example of how to use it: 
You are reading a book where the author cites a research study. The number in the paragraph you are reading will help you find the note, which will give you the citation information for the study. It may also give you background or other information about the study.

As another example, you may be reading a novel that was written 100 years ago, and the author mentions events and people that are no longer popular. In a newer printing or edition of the book, the editor may add notes to explain these references.

What is it? 
A reference list, much like the works cited pages you create for your own papers. This tells you where and how the author researched the book.

Where is it?
At the back of the book.

How is it organized? 
Usually alphabetically by author.

Example of how to use it: 
You are reading a book on global warming, and are looking for additional or background reading.

This is a general term for something added at the end of the book. It could be some of the items described here like suggested readings or notes, or it could just be additional information.

For example a math book may have formula tables, or a book on the civil rights movement in the US may include an appendix listing a timeline of relevant court cases.

What is it? 
A listing of terms mentioned in the book with their definitions, like a mini-dictionary.

Where is it? 
At the back of the book, or sometimes at the ends of chapters.

How is it organized? 
Terms are listed alphabetically and are accompanied by a definition.

Example of how to use it: 
When you come across a word in the book you don’t know. For example, you are reading a book of literary criticism want to know what “allegory” means.

What is it?
A list of subjects, names, events, places, etc. that are discussed in the book.

Where is it? 
At the back of the book.

How is it organized? 
Words are listed in alphabetical order, and tell you what page numbers you can use to find them.

Example of how to use it: 
Use the index when you want to look up a specific subject. For example, you have a book on medical conditions, and you want to find the pages that mention skin cancer.

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