The Dewey Decimal
Classification System
How the Library is
Organized
Melvil Dewey 1851-1931
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Melvil Dewey devised a
system of organizing
books which is used in
many libraries. He
divided books up into 10
main subjects, and then
assigned these subjects
a number. That way all
the books on a topic
would be together on the
shelf.
THINK ABOUT IT!
If books weren’t
shelved this way,
libraries would be in
total chaos!
What is a Call Number?
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Every book in the library is given a unique call
number that is an address for locating the book
on the shelf.
The call number is located on the spine of a
book.
The call number is made up of two parts: the
Dewey Decimal classification number and the
first three letters of the author’s last name.
The Key to Library Call Numbers
CALL NUMBER
TYPE OF BOOK
HOW IT IS SHELVED
E
ALPHABETICALLY BY
AUTHOR NAME
FIC
EVERYBODY =
PICTURE BOOKS
FICTION = CHAPTER
000-999
NONFICTION
DEWEY DECIMAL NUMBER,
THEN AUTHOR NAME
92 OR 921 OR
B
BIOGRAPHY
DEWEY DECIMAL NUMBER,
THEN SUBJECT’S NAME
REF
REFERENCE
DEWEY DECIMAL NUMBER,
THEN AUTHOR’S NAME
ALPHABETICALLY BY
AUTHOR NAME
The Difference Between
Fiction and Nonfiction

Fiction
Books that are stories
made up by the author.
They are not true, but
might be based on true
events.

Nonfiction
Books that are about
real things, people,
events and places.
They are true, except
for fairy and folk tales
in 398 and literature in
the 800s.
Fiction and Nonfiction
Call Numbers

Fiction call numbers
begin with E or FIC or F,
and then the first three
letters of the author’s
last name. It’s still a call
number even though
there are no numbers in
it!

Nonfiction call numbers
begin with a Dewey
number, and then the
first three letters of the
author’s last name.
599
E
FIC
SEU
PAU
GIB
Just Remember…….
FICTION CALL
NUMBERS HAVE
ONLY LETTERS!
NONFICTION
CALL NUMBERS
HAVE NUMBERS
AND LETTERS!
+
The Dewey System Has 10 Main Classes
for Organizing Nonfiction Books.
Dewey #
10 Main Classes
000-099 General Works
Kinds of Books
Encyclopedias, almanacs, record
books
100-199 Philosophy and Psychology
Paranormal phenomena, ethics,
how we think
200-299 Religion
300-399 Social Science
Bible, mythology, religions
400-499 Language
English and foreign languages, sign
language, dictionaries
500-599 Natural Science
Math, chemistry, biology, weather,
plants, animals
600-699 Applied Science
Inventions, transportation, cooking,
pets
700-799 Fine Arts and Recreation
Crafts, painting, music, games,
sports
800-899 Literature
900-999 History and Geography
Poetry, plays
Government, holidays, fairy tales,
education, community
Countries, flags, biographies about
famous people
Each of the 10 Main Classes
can be further divided:
From Broad…
…to Specific
500
Natural Science
590
Animals
599
Mammals
599.8
Primates
599.88
Apes
Dewey and Decimals
Think of a Dewey number as if it were dollars
and cents! For example:
595.23
Comes Before
595.30
When in doubt, add a 0 (zero) to even out the
digits after the decimal.
Locating a Book
on the Shelf
Remember this rule for how books
are usually shelved!
You start at the left on the top
shelf, and move to the right
until the shelf ends. Then you
go to the next shelf beneath
that, and do the same-left to
right, top to bottom.
What Else Might I Find
In My Library???
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Magazines
I-Can-Read Books
Beginning Chapter Books
Short Fiction
Series
Music
Books on Tape
Maps and Globes
Computers
Exploring Your Library
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Try making a map of the library to show the
following sections:
Everybody, Fiction, Nonfiction, Biographies and
Reference
Mark your favorite section on the map.
Include the circulation desk where you check out
and return books.
Write down the name of the Library Technician who
checks out your books.
Presentation created by:
Julie Favero and Diana Dorney,
Librarians,
Lake Oswego School District
Adapted with permission by:
Garnetta Wilker,
District Librarian,
Oregon Trail School District
September 2004
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The Dewey Decimal Classification System