Kim Wick and Tracey Wong

| A. Policy | B. Procedures | C. Dewey Decimal Classification Summaries | D. Relative Index - Schedules - Tables | E. Resources and Guides | F. Annotated Bibliography

A. Policy

As materials are added to the Anytown district-wide school library media collections, specific procedures must be followed for proper labeling of collection items in order to ensure easy identification and location of materials. Standard identification following specific Dewey Decimal classification system guidelines guarantees that the collection is organized efficiently and effectively.

(Rev. 4/22/12)

B. Procedures

1.Classification and Call Number Codes Used

  • For fiction titles the procedure in our library is to use FIC and the first three letters of the author's last name. For example: Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater would be labeled FIC STI
  • For nonfiction titles the procedure is to use the call number followed by the first three letters of the author's last name. For example: Genetic Engineering by Ray Spangenburg would be labeled 660.6 SPA

(Rev. 4/25/12)

2. Steps When Assigning a Call Number

  • Maintain an updated copy of the Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index
  • Determine the main subject of the item needing a call number assignment using The Sears List of Subject Headings
  • Search the subject in the Relative Index of the Abridged Dewey
  • Use the Dewey number provided to review the Schedules
  • Follow any pertinent directions for the subject such as adding information from Tables 1 or 2.
  • Assign Dewey Classification number
  • As a general rule of thumb for most school libraries and all smaller public libraries, usually only the first three cutter numbers will be used. As there will naturally be some exceptions such as adding a number after the first prime mark after the decimal for expanded collections, no call numbers should be assigned that go beyond the second prime mark after the decimal.
  • Use examples given under each summary below as a reference

A few important words about protocol or procedure for assigning classification (call numbers) to items you are adding to the collection...
In other words, where do you look first, second, and so on when you want to classify a new item?
If you are wondering if you have to use the Abridged DDC to build a number every time you catalog a new item, the answer is no.
Here are the steps that I use when assigning a call number to all new items…
  1. First and foremost, I check the OPAC for other materials about the same topic to see how I have classified them. (This helps you to shelve materials about the same topic together and eliminates the need to build a number (for non-fiction) or determine the collection codes each time you catalog something. This also facilitates consistency.) If I have nothing on the topic…
  2. I check the CIP in the item, if there is one. (Refer to the CIP key in the Mod 3 Handouts Menu for location of the DDC recommendation.)
  3. I check my Sears Heading Index under the main subject to check for the recommendation for a DDC number. (Isn’t that a slick feature of the Sears manual???)
  4. For imported records, I check the 082 field for the LOC recommendation for a Dewey number, if available.
    Obviously, I stop at the first step of these four that supplies me with a satisfactory DDC number.
  5. I verify the DDC number in the Abridged 14 for accuracy and currency (especially for works that were published before the newest edition of the DDC).
    If I do not find a DDC number in any of those places, I resort to building a number with the Abridged DDC. Believe me, I use the reference more for verifying numbers than for building them.
    After I have assigned a DDC number I complete the call number as stated below.
  6. I assign a Prefix and Cutter to complete the call number according to policy (I use my collection codes sheet and use ALL CAPS for any letters – which I have in my catalog manual –hint, hint!).
    Here is an example of a new reference set about our planetary system entitled The Encyclopedia of Planets:

    REF = Prefix for reference collection

    523.2 = DDC for planetary systems
    ENC = The cutter is the first three letters of the title main entry (I always use the first three letters of the main entry [author or title]for the cutter, except for individual biographies, for which I use the first three letters of the subject’s last name. I hope you noticed that I did not use "THE" as the cutter as we do not use leading articles for indexing, right?)
  7. The complete local call number is written on the title page verso, entered into the 852 field (holdings record) of the MARC record, and displayed on a spine label on the item (1/2" from the bottom) and the book pocket in the back of books.
    I recommend that if you have a very low budget and can get only one of the two tools, Sears List of Subject Headings or the Abridged DDC, that you purchase Sears because of its cross reference to the DDC system in the subject heading index. (Blessing)

(Rev. 4/26/12)

3. To Maintain System

  • Use the most recent edition of the Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index to determine if any changes have been made to DDC
  • The Selected List of Changes should be reviewed to determine which numbers should be changed
  • Pages for review in Abridged 14 are: xviii - xxii

(Rev. 4/28/12)

C. Dewey Decimal Classification Summaries

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system divides the knowledge of books into ten classes or disciplines that are a standard system without variance from library to library. The DDC is hierarchical or ladder like. It moves from smaller, shorter numbers to larger, longer numbers that can go into greater depth the large the library is. Small public libraries in towns, villages and small schools often use shorter, smaller numbers. In a large university setting, it is not unusual to use much longer, larger DDC numbers as there are more books carried and available within the different classes.

The Dewey Decimal Summaries are composed of the First Summary, the Second Summary and the Third Summary. The First Summary is comprised of ten main classes as follows:

Ten Main Classes

000 Computer science, information & general works
100 Philosophy & psychology
200 Religion
300 Social sciences
400 Language
500 Science
600 Technology
700 Arts & recreation
800 Literature
900 History & geography

This summary allows you to assign a broad category to a topic. For example, physics would fall in the 500 class for science.The first number identifies the main class in the First summary. In each three digit number, the first digit is the First Summary.

The Second Summary

Each of these ten classes are then further divided into ten divisions and then even further into ten different sections (Dewey xxv) .This is known as the Second Summary. In each three digit number, the second number refers to the division.

The Third Summary

The Thousand Sections

For the most part, shorter, smaller numbers are for broad topics and longer numbers are for in depth and varied titles.
The third summary allows you to get a little more specific with the subject. In the above examples for the Second Summary, it is indicated that Astronomy falls in the 520 category. If a more specific number is added for earth, the classification number is 525. Animals fall in the 590 category. To specifically give a number to birds, the classification number would be 598. Keep in mind that Dewey Decimal Classification uses numbers as memory aids to indicate different subdivisions. The position of the number specifies exact classification. Geography and history is shown with the number 9 as in 900. In addition, in 759, the 9 refers to painting in a certain place or region.

These examples are still relatively broad as only the three summaries are used and classification numbers are only three numbers in length. To go further in depth for an expanded library collection or larger library setting, the use of the relative index, schedules and various tables will be necessary.

(Rev. 4/30/12)

D. Relative Index - Schedules - Tables

The Relative Index helps to identify classification numbers for more specific topics. It is named such because it relates subjects to disciplines. It is an alphabetical listing of classification numbers matched to topics created mainly to assist catalogers in their duties. When attempting to determine which area or discipline to assign, the index is used (Dewey xlii). The Relative Index allows you to get more specific with your classification number. In the Relative Index physics is marked 530. This is because under the broad class of science, individual subjects are classified more specifically. Astronomy = 520, Animals (Zoology) = 590

If you needed to classify material on building your own house with adobe bricks you would follow these steps: Look at building in the Relative Index and you will find government control and technology. Neither seem applicable so you might try buildings instead. Under that you will find construction 690. If you turn to the schedules it seems like 693 would be the correct number, but back in the Relative Index there was a Manual note to compare 690 to 643 so you must do that. 643 mentions “do-it-yourself” and the topic of this question is build your own house so you should go to 643 in the schedules next. The information in 643 is about renters and cooking and does not seem applicable. 693 is the better match. Buildings – Construction in specific types of materials and for specific purposes 693 –

Once the subject is identified in the Relative Index and located in the Schedules note any additional directions. It may be necessary to add information from the Tables. In order to best understand how all the cataloging tools relate to each other, follow this simple procedure: start with subject number from index found by locating the main topic, move to the schedules, then add notation from Table1 or 2 if the instructions say to do so in the schedules.

(Rev. 4/28/12)

E. Resources and Guides

1. Slide Presentation

A slide presentation is highly recommended when teaching students classification since much of human learning occurs visually. Visual components are effective when teaching beyond rote lessons. In order to understand the hierarchical nature, English language learners, special education and many regular education students will be able to focus and follow the Dewey Decimal breakdown and explanation with a visual aid. The following slide prezi will engage students and enhance teaching Dewey Decimal Classification.

2. Lesson Plans

These lesson plan examples address Dewey at the fourth grade and high school levels.

3. Hand Outs

This activity was obtained courtesy of Kate Wolicki at Americana Intermediate School in Glendale Heights, IL. Buy and label blank dice. One die should be labeled from 000-400 and another one from 500-900. Each will have a free space that can be used at will. Several tables can play simultaneously once the game is taught.Match dice against the printed bingo sheets.

Then for another game, cut apart all squares and attach to sticks in order to play "sticks and stones" which is essentially arranging the sticks in conjunction with the cards with hundreds areas displayed.

4. Online Resources

  • There are various online resources that assist in providing a framework for teaching Dewey Decimal classification. While most are created by librarians, sometimes the very simplest form is the most understandable for children. The website listed below was created by students for students. It incorporates many key concepts while using a very basic storyline and theme, thus making it easily comprehensible.

  • This up-to-date website provides links to websites that have been classified by the Dewey Decimal Classification System for grades K-12. The site allows users to browse for topics of interest within the Dewey Browse program. The site also offers a Teacher Resources section with many links to valuable information such as lesson plans, webquests, blogs, and wikis and a search engine tab which offers a number of great search options.

provides resources to information regarding many aspects of Dewey. It includes links to the complete Dewey summaries, as well as to presentations for adults and kids. It also contains a link to a Dewey Blog which could be useful for keeping current.

5. Print Resources

  • Mitchell, Joan S., Julianne Beall, and Giles Martin, eds. Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index. 14th ed. Dublin: OCLC, 2004. Print. This book contains all of the information needed to determine DDC. An overview is provided in the Introduction on pages xxiii - xlv.

  • Mitchell, Joan S., Julianne Beall, and Giles Martin, eds. Abridged Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index. 15th ed. Dublin: OCLC. 2012. Print. This updated version will provide all the information needed to determine DDC and should be checked for any changes that need to be made.

  • Blessing, Candace. "Mod 8: DDC Introduction, Readings, and Student Learning Outcomes." Classification of the Library Collection.

(Rev. 4/30/12)

F. Annotated Bibliography

Breitsprecher, William. “Dewey Decimal for Kids.”Breitlinks.N.p., 6 Oct. 2008. Web. 3 Apr. 2012.
This website provides a wealth of information on teaching the Dewey Decimal system, as well as other information literacy lessons. Mr. Breitsprecher, a school library media specialist in Wisconsin provides slideshows, activities and lessons for direct use or adaptations. The author states that multimedia is very important and extremely effective to teach to today’s generations of students.

Findlay, David. Digging into Dewey. 1st edition. Fort Atkinson, WI: UpstartBooks, 2005. Print. This educational resource is filled with resources for teaching a thorough and in dept understanding of the Dewey system at the elementary level. Games, activities, lessons, templates and worksheets are available in abundance. In addition, several print and web resources are listed as well. There are even math connections to assist teaching Dewey. Answer keys are included for the multiple choice tests at the end of the book.

OCLC Cataloging Electronic Resources <>

LM Net Wiki <> This library media wiki is a collections of activities, games, lessons, teaching tools and ideas of school library media specialists nation wide. A wide array of rubrics, presentations, images and hand outs are available for both elementary and secondary implementation.