December 10, 2012 - Dewey Decimal Day

Books at the library have to be in some sensible order.

What if all the books in a library were arranged in alphabetical order according to the title, say, or the author's last name? It would be hard to find books on a particular topic (such as how to draw cartoons or the landscapes of Iceland) with such a system. And it would be impossible to easily browse through all the books available about dinosaurs.

So nonfiction books should be sorted by topic. Right? But...there are a million ways to organize books by topic. It would be nice to have a system that is used everywhere.

The Dewey Decimal System is one of the most common book-organization systems. Its main competitor in the U.S. is the Library of Congress classification. The Dewey Decimal System, unlike the Library of Congress System, was developed by basically one guy, Melvil Dewey. He was born in 1851, he created the Dewey Decimal System in 1876, he modified and improved his system for the rest of his life—and that system is still used in more than 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries, today!

And since it's Dewey's birthday, today we celebrate Dewey Decimal Day.

Here are Dewey's main classes of books:

000s—computer science, library and information science,
general stuff, new stuff
100s—philosophy and psychology
300s—social sciences
900s—history, geography and biography

Explore some more!

The best place to head today, to celebrate the Dewey Decimal System, is the library itself! Browse around the nonfiction sections and study the numbers on the lower spine of each book. You will see that books are shelved in numerical order—and that means that books about similar topics are shelved together. That way we can browse among all the books on a particular subject.

You can also go to the Breitlinks website to learn more about the Dewey Decimal System  or to challenge yourself with a Dewey Decimal quiz

Also on this date:

First “computer programmer” Ada Lovelace's birthday 

 Settlers' Day in Namibia 

MPLA Foundation Day in Angola 

Constitution Day in Thailand

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