Library Arrangements

Table of Contents | Introduction | About the Author

The Dewey Decimal System, invented by librarian Melvil Dewey, is widely used in small libraries. It is basically used to classify only non-fiction books; however, poetry and classic literature are included.

The Dewey System uses numbers from 000 to 999 to describe major categories. Subdivisions are then made using a system of decimals (hence the name Dewey Decimal). Librarians have a complete listing of the divisions of sub-classification, but they usually rely upon the publisher or distributor to assign the actual number. The same number can be assigned to more than one book; these books are sorted according to the author's last name. Below the Dewey number is placed the letter of the author's last name and sometimes a "cutter" number and the first letter of the title of the book.

Dewey Categories

000-099 General Works includes encyclopedias, handbooks, and almanacs (The books in this category are frequently found in the reference section.)

100-199 Philosophy/Psychology includes ethics.

200-299 Religion includes The Bible, theology, and mythology

300-399 Social Science includes sociology, economics, government, education, law, and folklore.

400-499 Language includes languages, grammars, and dictionaries (Many of the books in this category may be found in the reference section of the library.)

500-599 Science includes mathematics, chemistry, physics, and biology.

600-699 Useful Arts/Technology includes farming, cooking, sewing, nursing, engineering, radio, television, gardening, industries, and inventions.

700-799 Fine Arts/Arts includes music, painting, drawing, acting, photography, games, sports, and amusements.

800-899 Literature

  • 810 American literature
  • 811 poetry
  • 812 drama
  • 813 fiction
  • 814 essays
  • 815 speeches
  • 816 letters
  • 817 satire and humor
  • 818 miscellany
  • 819 Canadian-English literature
  • 820 English literature
  • 830 German literature
  • 840 French literature
  • 850 Italian literature
  • 860 Spanish literature
  • 870 Latin literature (classical)
  • 880 Greek literature (classical)
  • 890 other literatures

900-999 History includes travel, geography, and biography (usually set apart in a division labeled biography).


Library of Congress is a system of classification of books which is used in many large libraries. The call number begins with a letter rather than a number. There are twenty-one subject classes which correspond to these letters. It is a system intended for use by serious researchers.Library of Congress Categories

A-General Works

B-Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion

C-History: auxiliary sciences

D-General and Old World History

E & F-American History

G-Geography, Anthropology, and Recreation

H-Social Sciences

J-Political Science




N-Fine Arts

P-Language and Literature





U-Military Science

V-Naval Science

Z-Bibliography and Library Science

Other systems are used primarily in small or privately owned libraries. The system may be based solely upon the author's last name or other criteria may be used. The system is determined by the nature of the library collection.

Use of any system can be accomplished by merely consulting the card catalog or computer file and seeking the book on the shelf in its designated location.

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