The Dewey Decimal Classification System
Length: 518 words (1.5 double-spaced pages)
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is a system of symbols known as notation and this represents the
classes in a classification system. The notation is expressed in
Arabic numerals in the case of the Dewey Decimal System. It does not
matter what words are used to describe subjects the notation will give
a unique meaning of the class and say its association to other
classes. The notation has the ability to identify the class within
which the subject belongs and related classes. The classes get
identified and have linked classes found by using a universal
language, which is provided by the notation. Not all the books in the
Dewey Decimal system are non-fiction.
The Dewey Decimal Classification System is divided into tem main
categories. These range from 000-999. Each main category can further
be divided into nine sub categories, which have a range of 10-90. Each
category is divided into a further nine specialized topics ranging
from 1- 9. The specialised topics are broken down further by using
The Dewey Decimal Classification System is the most widely used
classification system in the world. Over 135 countries use the system.
Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was 21 years old when he created The
Dewey Decimal Classification System. At the time he was working as a
student assistant in a college library. Dewey in the United States is
credited for beginning the field of library science. Dewey was born in
December 10 1851. His family were poor and lived in a small town upper
New York State. Later on he cut his name to Melvil dropped his middle
names and for a short time even spelt his last name as Dui. Dewey died
The ten main classes are as follows: 000 = Generalities, 100 =
Philosophy, Paranormal Phenomena, Psychology, 200 = Religion, 300 =
Social sciences, 400 = Language, 500 = Natural sciences and
mathematics, 600 = Technology (Applied sciences), 700 = The arts Fine
and decorative arts, 800 Literature (Belles-Lettres) and rhetoric and
900 = Geography, History and Auxiliary disciplines.
Principally a classification system has been used to create an order
out of knowledge. Dewey put related topics in a hierarchal order from
general to specific. The system Dewey created made it possible for
more books to be added. The system enables books to be found
instantly. Whereas originally librarians would have to spend a long
time looking for a particular book. The Dewey Decimal Classification
system contains a single index.
Dewey decided to use decimal fractions to represent subjects of books.
Dewey numbered books by their intellectual content instead of physical
location. This was more effective as intellectual content could never
change but physical location could change. Dewey decided to do a
subdividing of books to a specificity that nobody was likely to write
about that particular subject. This is why he starts off with broad
subjects that are systematically broken down into more and more
After the library of congressed moved to a new building after the old
one burnt down, they noticed that they needed a new system. The Dewey
Decimal Classification System contains a comprehensive index. The
Dewey Decimal System calls this a Relative Index. It arranges terms
alphabetically and links them to the disciplines in which they appear
in the schedules.
The Dewey Decimal Classification System was an immediate success and
by the end of the 19th century was the most popular system to be used.
Melvil Dewey founded the American library association and began
publication of the library journal in 1876. He became chief librarian
of Columbia University in 1883 and established the first school of
library there in 1887. From 1889-1906 he served as director of the New
York state library. Dewey died from a stroke in December 26th 1931.