Learning Dewey!

You can find most books in many libraries around the world thanks to the Dewey Decimal Classification (also written as "DDC").

Librarians and shelvers use the DDC to locate and store books on shelves in the library. Librarians memorize many parts of the Dewey system.

That's why, when you ask where a book on French or Italian might be found, librarians know where to begin: the 400s section - the "Dewey number" for Language!

The major Dewey Decimal divisions are:
000 - Generalities
100 - Philosophy & Psychology
200 - Religion
300 - Social Science
400 - Language
500 - Natural Science & Mathematics
600 - Technology & Applied Sciences
700 - Arts
800 - Literature
900 - Geography & History

As you can see, there are ten major divisions or classes. These areas are further divided into subsections by 10s. For example, Language (400) breaks up into:

410 - Linguistics
420 - English and Old English
430 - Germanic Languages
440 - Romance Languages, French
450 - Italian, Rumanian, Rhaeto-Romanic
460 - Spanish and Portuguese
470 - Italic Languages, Latin
480 - Hellenic Languages, Classical Greek
490 - Other Languages

So, looking at the chart above, we can see a book on Latin could be found in the 470s. At this point, the Dewey Decimal system continues to divide into single digits, then eventually decimal numbers, such as 470.123. These additional divisions help decide where book "belongs" in the Dewey system, and it helps us when we look for the book on a shelf. That's why it's important to keep books in order.

How is the Dewey Decimal Classification arranged at Middletown Thrall Library? Well, on the first floor (where the Adult materials are) the Nonfiction books are in several major places:

  • Reference
  • New Nonfiction (in front of the Circulation desk)
  • Older nonfiction (in the main Adult stacks)
  • Large Print (to your right as you enter the library)

To locate a book (if you do not know its Dewey number--which is most of the time), ask one of our librarians in Reference, or try on your own using the Public Access Catalog (PAC). If you've never used the PAC, click here or, when at the library, ask a librarian for assistance.

When, through the PAC, you successfully locate a book you want that's at our library (and checked in), the call number (Dewey Decimal number) will appear in the upper left portion of the screen. You may also enter a 'C' to check the "copy status" of a book, if the book has been checked out, and determine the call number.

Remember, if you have any difficulty, the Reference Department is eager to help you find everything you need!


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