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Dewey Decimal in the UIUC Bookstacks


-Anatomy of a
  Call Number

  *Size Designation
  *Dewey Number
  *Cutter Number
  *Work Mark
  *Putting it Together
-Other Resources
  *Web Resources

The Dewey Decimal Number

Dewey Decimal Number
The Dewey Decimal Classification System, devised by Melvil Dewey in 1873, is a system for organizing library materials by subject discipline. Subject areas are divided into ten classes:
  • 000-099 Generalities
  • 100-199 Philosophy and Psychology
  • 200-299 Religion
  • 300-399 Social Sciences
  • 400-499 Language
  • 500-599 Natural Sciences and Mathematics
  • 600-699 Technology(Applied Sciences)
  • 700-799 Arts
  • 800-899 Literature and Rhetoric
  • 900-999 Geography and History
These classes are further subdivided into more specific categories. For example, within the
  • 800-899 Literature and Rhetoric class,
  • 820-830 contains material specifically on English Literature and Rhetoric,
  • 822 narrows it to works of English Drama, and
  • 822.33 is the works of Shakespeare.
By assigning related subjects similar call numbers, the Dewey Decimal System helps to keep material for similar disciplines together. There are, however, some fields that draw on knowledge from many different disciplines--therefore, don't expect all books on one subject to be shelved in one place! Material about Airports, for example, can be found in:
  • Social Sciences(general--387.726)
  • Arts(architecture of--725.39)
  • and Applied Sciences(construction of--690.539)
It all depends on the specific focus of the work

Almost done with Dewey...but there's one final twist. A while back, the people who make changes to the system (like adding a call number for "Computers" or "Professional Wrestling") decided that three subjects just had too many books in them. To make things easier, they decided to catalog all the new books in these categories with letters rather than numbers. Thankfully, they only changed three, so that's all you have to remember:
  • A -- Bibliographies -- Shelved before 016
  • B -- Biographies -- Shelved before 920
  • C -- College Catalogs -- Shelved before 380
So, if the Dewey number for a biography of Lincoln would have been 920.L345n, it would now be B.L345n, and it would be shelved just before 920, where older biographies of Lincoln might also be found(at 920.L345). Weird, but true.

Quick Quiz

To answer, click on the appropriate button next to your answer. (Incorrect answers will provide feedback too!)

1. Materials are organized in Dewey Decimal according to:


2. All materials on a subject will be found in the same location on the shelf:


3. If you see a Dewey Number that begins with a C, it's:

a Biography
a College Catalog
a Bibliography

4. Choose the correct letter from the answers on the left, then click on correction to see how you did!
This comes before the dewey number a. Classes
The ten main dewey categories are called b. Cutter Number
This comes after the dewey number c. Size Designation

Size Designation
Size Designation
Cutter Number
Cutter Number

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