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Understanding the Dewey

1. What is it?

The Dewey Decimal System has been the standard that has produced order in the libraries of our land for years. In an effort to arrange a multitude of books in a way that they could be located when needed, a system was devised using the number sequence from 000 through 999. All books were then divided into ten major groups and then these groups were each divided into ten groupings again.

2. The original groups:

000-099 - General
100-199 - Philosophy
200-299 - Religion
300-399 - Social Sciences
400-499 - Languages
500-599 - Natural Science and Math
600-699 - Technology
700-799 - Fine Arts
800-899 - Literature
900-999 - General Geography and History

3. Sub-groupings

Dividing each of the above groups into ten sub-groupings results in 100 different classifications, too many to list here. What you need to know is the purpose of each of those sub-groupings and the reason for their existence, from a general standpoint. To give you an idea, within the Philosophy grouping above there are separate sciences; 150 is psychology, 170 is ethics and so on. Within the Math portion of Natural Sciences and Math grouping, you will find Math at 510, arithmetic at 511, algebra at 512, and so forth. Expect these kinds of divisions within each of the groupings. This means that as you narrow down the type of information you are looking for all of the books on that subject will be in close proximity to each other.

4. The last two digits of the Dewey tell you the type of book:

01 - Philosophy of
02 - Outlines of
03 - Dictionary of
04 - Essays about
05 - Periodicals on
06 - Society transactions and proceedings
07 - Study or teaching of
08 - Collections
09 - History of

Therefore, based on everything noted above, if you were looking for books dealing with the teaching of algebra, you would end up with Dewey code 512-07.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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