Do You Know Dewey?


Do you know how to find books in the library?

You may have heard a librarian mention a book’s Dewey Decimal number or Call Number. But what does that mean? This page will give you some more information about what call numbers are used for, how to locate a book by its call number, and why it’s important to keep the library organized.

In the Children’s Room, we use the Dewey Decimal system for non-fiction books. Each book is given a call number that tells you where the book is shelved. A good way to remember how a call number works is by thinking of it like the book’s home address. A book with the call number of 599 (Mammals) will be shelved before one with a call number of 598 (Birds), and before the 600s.

The call number is printed on a special sticker called a Spine Label.  The spine label has letters and numbers on it and might look like this:


The above spine label is for a book about swimming. Other books about swimming will have a similar call number (797.21). The letter above the number (J) are the Location Code, which is the first clue about where to find the books. This book is on a Juvenile Non-Fiction shelf, in the children’s room. The letters below the number (TIE) are usually the first three letters of the author’s last name.

If you look up a book in the catalog, there are a few other location codes in the children’s room that might have a Dewey call number. These location codes include Juvenile Reference (JRF), Juvenile Non-Fiction DVDs (JNV), and Parent-Teacher (PT).

Dewey Decimal Classes

There are signs on each of the pillars near the Non-Fiction books with the range of Dewey Decimals numbers that can be found in each aisle, as well as signs with information about what is found in each Dewey Decimal class. A Dewey Decimal “class” is the main topic of a call number. There are ten classes. The table below tells you what each class contains, and what type of books you will find there:

000 General works and information Encyclopedias, almanacs, fact books, the Guinness Book of World Records
100 Psychology and Philosophy The Salem Witch Trials, optical illusions, self-help books
200 Religion Bible stories, information about world religions, books about mythology
300 Social Science Environment, government, holidays, fairy tales and folktales (398.2)
400 Language Foreign language, sign language
500 Science Planets and stars, fossils, plants, nature, geology, dinosaurs, animals
600 Technology Transportation, computers, cookbooks, books about farm animals and pets
700 Arts and Recreation Arts and crafts, drawing books, games, sports, music
800 Literature Poetry, joke books
900 History and Geography Ancient civilations, countries, states, the Pilgrims