One of the functions of the Library is to organise its collections in a systematic way that is helpful to users. The Library catalogue (also known as SmartSearch) will allow you to search for books and also supplies a shelf number or address that indicates where the book you want may be found in the Library.
On the spine of every book you'll find a small sticker with typed numbers. We call this the "shelf number" of the book. Each book is assigned a shelf number that helps keep books on the same subject near each other. The shelf number is like the physical address where the book may be found.
The shelf number is determined by a system that was developed by a philosopher called Melvil Dewey. He decided to organise all the fields of knowledge into a numerical system, giving each broad subject its own number. This system is known as the Dewey Decimal system, and is widely used by libraries all over the world.
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ACTIVITY: Knowing a bit about how the Dewey Decimal system works can help you find your way in a library. When you walk up the Library ramp, check out the signs which give a breakdown of the Dewey numbers on each level.
100 Philosophy & psychology
300 Social sciences
500 Natural sciences & mathematics
600 Technology (Applied sciences)
700 The arts
800 Literature & rhetoric
900 Geography & history
FOR YOUR INTEREST: WHERE DOES YOUR SUBJECT FIT IN?
You'll see that each one of the numbers listed above is seperated from the others by 100. Each one of these main subject categories can be broken down further into subdivisions. For example, look at some subdivisions of the 300 class below to get a sense of how different aspects of a topic have their own individual Dewey number.
Examples of subject classes from the 300s
300 Social sciences
371 School management; special education
380 Commerce, communications, transport
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