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Casual Library Assistants Resource Guide: Dewey Decimal Classification System


Who uses Dewey Decimal at the University?

The Education & Music Library uses the Dewey Decimal Classification System, as well as the Library of Congress Classification System.

This classification system is older than the Library of Congress System and is used mostly by public libraries and small academic libraries. You will be most likely familiar with it from using it in the public libraries and school libraries.This classification system is named after Melvil Dewey.  The Dewey system has ten main classes of subjects.

                   000             Generalities

                   100             Philosophy and


                   200             Religion

                   300             Social Science

                   400             Language

                   500             Natural Science and


                   600             Applied Sciences

                   700             Arts

                   800             Literature

                   900             Geography and History

Each of the above classes has ten divisions, which are further divided. The more numbers, the more specific the subject. We have an online guide or can give you a handout if you wish further clarification. For example, when shelving folklore in the Dewey classification system, items are classified in the 300 section (Social Sciences). This subject area is further divided; 398.2 represents Customs, etiquette and folklore. Further expansion of this number classifies items to Native folk lore, Russian folklore etc.

The Dewey decimal system coordinates materials on the same subject and on related subjects to make items easier to find by using a combination of letters and numbers. Every book in the library is given a unique call number to serve as an address for locating the book on the shelf.

Dewey decimal call numbers have two main parts.

a) The first part is the Dewey decimal number itself. The first line of the call number is the subject matter classification (a series of numbers that represent the subject area).

 b) The second part is called a Cutter line and is a more specific classification of the book. The Cutter number can represent the author or title information.

Books in our Dewey collection are arranged in the stacks numerically by call number, from 001 to 999.


What is a Curriculum Collection?

A Curriculum Collection is a collection of materials representative of the range of resources usually found in preschool, primary and secondary school libraries and are provided to support curriculum studies taught in the College of Education. 

The Education Curriculum Collection stacks begin with fiction books (Fic. A to Fic. Z (a local call number)), followed by Saskatchewan Education Curriculum Guides (a local call number), followed by items classified with the Dewey Decimal Classification System.

The cataloguing of our Fiction and Dewey Collections is unique to USask; it is a blend of Dewey with Library of Congress Cutters. A decision was made to change this format to one that will continue to keep our Curriculum collections as academic collections but facilitate a more standard practice of cataloguing. The new classification system will be more of a browsing style, consistent with school libraries. We now have a blend of two systems but it is not difficult to shelve or locate items. Training for shelving is given in the branch.

Curriculum Guides

Curriculum Guides are produced by the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education. They are shelved by a local call number which is simply the name of the subject of the material. All guides are shelved in alphabetical order. For example, English, Health, Mathematics, etc. Within subject headings, items are shelved by title.

Fiction Material

In the Dewey Decimal classification system, fiction is usually shelved separately from nonfiction. This is the case in the Education & Music Library.  Fiction materials are shelved alphabetically by the author's last name. Fiction books have a local call number