Sunday, July 20, 2008

About the Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal Classification system was created by Melvil Dewey, the librarian who founded the American Library Association. He first published his idea in an anonymous pamphlet back in 1876. He designed the system to lead one from the divine (philosophy and religion) through various human endeavors. It is a bit biased about some things (note that Christianity gets 90% of the religion listing, which is a bit like giving the US 75% of geography), and so is discouraged in some areas. Still, about 95% of school and public libraries in the US, as well as 135,000 libraries worldwide in 135 countries, use DDC. The majority of university and specialized libraries do not, however.

Another interesting thing to know is that fiction is part of the DDC. However, most libraries have such a large fiction collection that they choose to have it separately by author, rather than having a huge area of fiction in the middle.

The Online Computer Library Center of Dublin Ohio actually owns the patent on the DDC. It is regularly revised and updated to accommodate new subjects (for instance, the growth of computer science and the internet). If you look at a detailed chart of the classifications, you'll find that there are numbers that are not used yet to allow for expansion. It is currently undergoing its 15th revision.

One important thing to remember is that there are other classification systems in use. The United States Library of Congress uses a different system, and the Universal Decimal Classification , which is widely viewed as more complex but offering better, simpler classifications.

I have provided no answer sheet because the answers are pretty self-explanatory, and because there can often be more than one possible numbers. The best way to do this exercise is to guess at the answer using the list of subject classifications appropriate for your child, then look the subject up on your local library's website. If that service is not provided, then use that of another library, such as that of the New York Public Library.

And then, if possible, It's time for a field trip. Give the kids a list of the subjects you'll be studying in the next few weeks, plus any they really want to read about, show them how the local library is set up, and send them on their own Book Safari!

Dewey Decimal System Lesson

  • 000 – Computer science, information, and general works
004-006 Computers
030s Encyclopedias
070s News Media, Journalism
  • 100 – Philosophy and psychology
110s Metaphysics, cosmology, space and time
150s Psychology
160s Logic
170s Ethics
180s, 190s Philosophy
  • 200 – Religion
200s to 280s Christianity
290s Comparative Religion
  • 300 – Social sciences
310s Statistics of nations
320s Politics
330s Economics
340s Law
350 -354 Government
355 - 359 Warfare and Military
360s Social Services
370s Education
380s Commerce and Transportation
390s Folklore
  • 400 – Language
410s Linguistics
420s English
430s Germanic Languages
440s Romance Languages

  • 500 – Science
510s Mathematics
520s Astronomy
530s Physics
540s Chemistry
550s Earth Sciences
560s Paleontology
570s Life Sciences
580s Botany
590s Zoology
  • 600 – Technology
610s Medicine
620s Engineering
630s Agriculture
640s Home and Family
650s Management
660s Chemical Engineering
670s - 680s Manufacturing
690s Building

  • 700 – Arts and Recreation
710s Civic and Landscape Arts
720s Architecture
730s Sculpture
740s - 750s - 760s Drawing, Painting and Graphic Arts
770s Photography
780s Music
790s Performing Arts, Games

  • 800 – Literature
810s American Literature
820s English Literature
830s German Literature
840s Romance - Language Literature
850s Italian Literature
860s Spanish and Portuguese Literature
870s Latin Literature
880s Greek Literature
890s Literature of Other Lands
  • 900 – History and geography
910s Geography and Travel
929 Genealogy, names, insignias
930s History of the Ancient World
940s General History of Europe
950s General History of Asia
960s General History of Africa
970s General History of North America
980s General History of South America
990s General History of the rest of the World
999 Extraterrestrial Worlds

Dewey Decimal System Worksheet

Fill in the call numbers where you would probably find these subjects.
In some cases, there could be more than one possibility.

What to make for dinner

Where to go on vacation

Computer has blue screen of death

Washing machine is spraying water all over the room

Life on other planets

Favorite foods of cows

Whether praying mantises really eat their mates

Arthritis in children

Why pigs can't fly

How to get rid of fleas

Who plays Harry Potter in the movies?

Is there a folk song about fish?

Why do stars explode?

What happens when you mix these chemicals?

Can you start a fire with water? (yes!)

I need a Portuguese Love poem.

What style of house do I live in?

What do I do with a misbehaving child?

Is that against the law?

Did dinosaurs eat palm tress?

Why are we here?

Which fork do I use?

Our bulldog eats our shoes.

Who was King of England in 1776?

My photos of tree slugs are uninspiring.

Dewey Decimal System for Younger Children

000 Generalities

Here we find books about computers, encyclopedias, almanacs, and books about books and

100 Philosophy & psychology

Studies of how the mind works, how we should live, and how we should think.

200 Religion

Books about ways that people believe.

300 Social sciences

Books about how people live together in communities. Includes laws, how money works, and
how people live.

400 Language

Where languages came from, how English is properly spoken, and how to speak other languages.

500 Natural sciences & mathematics

Books about math, stars and planets, animals, dinosaurs, and more!

600 Technology (Applied sciences)

Books on subjects from medicine to cooking to making things in factories...

700 The arts

From architecture to painting to photography and games.

800 Literature & rhetoric

Fiction around the world.

900 Geography & history

Countries around the world

Dewey Decimal system for Younger Children Worksheet

Write the call number of the Dewey Decimal System you would probably find the

subject under.


The History of Africa





Silly Laws



Tyrannosaurus Rex


Library books


How to play hopscotch


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