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How to Do Library Research

What is the Dewey Decimal System?

The Dewey Decimal classification system groups together books on similar subjects by call numbers.

There are 10 Dewey Decimal call number classifications.

  • 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

The 700's are broken down as follows:

  • 700 - General
  • 710 - Landscaping & Gardens
  • 720 - Architecture
  • 730 - Sculpture, ceramics, metalwork
  • 740 - Drawing, comics, illustration, graphic design, fashion, textiles, interior design, glass
  • 750 - Painting
  • 760 - Printmaking
  • 770 - Photography, computer art
  • 780 - Music
  • 790 - Movies & TV, animation, games, dance

How to Read a Dewey Call Number

All parts of a call number are important! 

Make sure you write down the whole number!

Image of a book in our library catalog

Let's dissect this call number: 741.64 A5, H899s  

  • 741: The first three numbers of a Dewey Decimal call number indicates the general subject of the book.
  • .64: Numbers following the first 3 numbers and the decimal point make things more specific.
    • 741 Drawing & drawings 
      • 741.6 Graphic design and illustration 
        • 741.64  Book illustration
  • A5: In the 700 section you might see an A with a number right after it. This is a system unique to our library. It designates time.

  • H899s: The Cutter Number indicates the author or title of the book. Why? It's a librarian thing.

There may be some additional information attached to a call number.

For example: Q 728.0942 L346i, 1904 v.1 

  • Q means it’s in Special Collections
  • 1904 is the year it was published
  • v.1 tells you which volume

There’s also:

  • DVD for DVDs
  • Blu-Ray for Blu-Rays
  • POP for Pop-up Books

How to Find an Item on theShelf

So how do you find books on the shelves?

Let’s use 741.64 A5, H899s  Steel-engraved Book Illustration in England by Basil Hunnisett as an example.

The call # will be on the spine of the item. Illustration of a book spine showing the location of the call number. 

Break the number down from left to right in chunks: 741 64  A5,  H899  s

  • Look for the 741 section
  • Then look for .64
  • Then look for A5
  • After you find 741.64 A5, look for Cutter #s that start with H
  • Then find H899
  • If there are several books by that author, they will be filed by title, this case, s.

DVDs, 'zines, magazines, children's books, Special Collections, pop-up books, and oversize books have special locations in the library. 

REMEMBER! If you can't find an item on the shelf, ask a staff member to help!