Dewey Decimal System

Dewey Decimal System

How to find books in a library

How to Find Books at the Library

If we just put all of our books anywhere in the Library, no one would be able to find anything. Obviously, they need to be organized.

In the late 1800’s, a librarian named Melvil Dewey came up with an organizing system that has become known as the Dewey Decimal System and is used in public and school libraries. If you understand the basics of Dewey, you can find books in most libraries. You probably learned about Dewey in school, but just in case you’ve forgotten, we’re going to give you a little lesson.

If you’re looking for books, you’ll likely look in the card catalog (people still call it that even though it's on a computer and we no longer have cards). (Click here to learn how to use Catalog.) Or you may just browse the shelves to look for books. Whether you use the Catalog or just browse, understanding Dewey is helpful.

Call Numbers

Every book has a Call Number, which is located on the bottom of the spine of a book and has 2 or more lines. That Call Number is the book’s address – it tells where the book lives.  The first line usually has a letter on it, which tells you what section of the Library it lives in. Click here for what the letters in the first line mean. The second line tells you how to find a specific book.

Listed below are the Hundreds. If you click on any category, you can see a list of the Tens associated with it and under each Ten are the sub sub categories.


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