Dewey Decimal System Day

Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey was born on December 10, 1851, and on the anniversary of his birth, we celebrate the classification system he created for library materials. One of his passions in life was simplifying things, which is why early in his life he changed his first name to Melvil, to get rid of extra letters. According to the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), “Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal Classification® (DDC) system when he was 21 and working as a student assistant in the library of Amherst College. His work created a revolution in library science and set in motion a new era of librarianship. Melvil Dewey well deserves the title of ‘Father of Modern Librarianship’.”

This system, first widely used in 1876, is still the main way books are classified in public libraries. It divides knowledge into ten basic categories, which are:

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

Some of the categories have weathered the nearly 150 years since the DDC came into being better than others. The whole field of computer science had to be fit into a schedule that was not created to include it, for instance. It is also English-centric and Christian-centric. Some lesser-used languages and religions get lumped together into categories. Nonetheless, it has served libraries well through the years.

As the most widely used classification system in the world, the DDC is found in 135 countries around the worlds. Its editorial offices are located within the Decimal Classification Division of the Library of Congress. They assign a basic Dewey number to all items they catalog.

So visit your library today, and enjoy Dewey’s gift to library patrons everywhere.

Quotes about organization

The desire for order is the only order in the world.–Georges Duhamel

Early in my career I felt that organization would destroy my creativity. Whereas now, I feel the opposite. Discipline is he concrete that allows you to be creative.–Verna Gibson

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality.–Napoleon Hill

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.–Benjamin Franklin

Good order is the foundation of all things.–Edmund Burke

I see something that has to be done and I organize it.–Elinor Guggenheimer

An idea can only become a reality once it is broken down into organized, actionable elements.–Scott Belsky

It is best to do things systematically, since we are only human, and disorder is our worst enemy.—Hesiod

The knowledge which we have acquired ought not to resemble a great shop without order, and without an inventory; we ought to know what we possess, and be able to make it serve us in need.–Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz

One person’s mess is merely another person’s filing system.–Margo Kaufman

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.–A.A. Milne

We adore chaos because we love to produce order. –M. C. Escher

Chaos is merely order waiting to be deciphered.–José Saramago

Order and simplification are the first steps towards mastery of a subject.–Thomas Mann

The librarian was explaining the benefits of the Dewey decimal system to her junior—benefits that extended to every area of life. It was orderly, like the universe. It had logic. It was dependable. Using it allowed a kind of moral uplift, as one’s own chaos was also brought under control.–Jeanette Winterson

It is the function of science to discover the existence of a general reign of order in nature and to find the causes governing this order.–Dmitri Mendeleev

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