At the age of 21 while working as a student assistant in the library of Amherst College in 1876, Melvil Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal Classification that we use today! This system was first published in Dewey’s, A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library.
This is a way to categorize the non-fiction books in the library. Each book is given a number based on its’ topic. The ten main groups are, 000-99, 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, the Arts; 800-899, literature and rhetoric and 900-999, geography and history.
Each of these groups are then subdivided again and again, specifying the topic in which the book falls under. For example, 500 is natural science and mathematics. More specifically, 500 represents general works on sciences, 510 is mathematics, 520 is astronomy, 530 is general works in physics and it continues. When the topics are divided further, the third digit comes into play. 531 is classical mechanics while 532 represents fluid mechanics. You’ll often see a decimal point in the number, this further specifies the topic. Following the identification number is the first three letters of the author’s last name.
Thanks to Dewey, we can easily find our favorite subjects. Celebrate Dewey’s birthday by checking out a non-fiction title from your local library!