Have you ever wondered why books are ordered on the shelves the way that they are? Have you wondered what the numbers on the spine labels mean?

In honor of Dewey Decimal System Day, we’re going to review how the Batesville Memorial Public Library uses the Dewey Decimal System to organize materials for our patrons!

The Dewey Decimal System was first published in the United States in 1876 by Melvil Dewey. Originally published as a four page pamphlet, it has now been revised through 23 editions.

The Dewey Decimal System organizes books based on subject, so books of the same subject will be grouped together on the shelf. The classification system uses 10 difference general subject headings, which you can find in the graphic to the right. So, the Dewey Decimal System organizes books so that all science books will be shelved together, all history books will be shelved together, and so on.

Let’s take a look at how a call number looks in the Dewey Decimal System!

We’ll take a look at the call number for World War I Fact Book: The Great War in Facts and Numbers by William van der Kloot. The full call number for this book is 940.3 KLOOT.

Here, the “9″ classifies the book under the general category of History.

“40” classifies the book under the division of General History of Europe.

“.3” classifies the book under World War I.

So, books about World War I would be listed under the call number 940.3. Then, all books with that call number are in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.