Three resources for learning Dewey Decimal Classification

So I’m halfway through the classification part of my Cataloguing & Classification module. After three weeks of theory, last week we finally got stuck into Dewey. And what a week it has been! After a somewhat leisurely start to the term, the workload went up exponentially. But that’s OK, because it’s all fascinating stuff.

I should mention at this point that the module is not so much about professional training in classification. Rather, we are learning the underlying principles of classification schemes such as Dewey and UDC so that we can evaluate their suitability for organising collections. And with only one week dedicated to each of the two classification schemes in the syllabus, anything beyond this would be pretty much impossible. But even so, part of the coursework will be to classify a number of documents.

In any case, last week provided ample opportunity to practice Dewey. Our lecturer has made a workbook available, which was challenging but rewarding. I’m sure it will be no different for UDC. I really enjoy classification, so I was on the search for more opportunities to practice and to learn more about Dewey. Here are my top 3 resources:

1. Vanda Broughton’s textbook on classification

BROUGHTON, V., 2004, Essential classification. London: Facet Publishing

This textbook is quickly becoming my classification bible. Not only was it immensely helpful when you want to brush up on anything from aspect classification to vocabulary control, it also had chapters dedicated to the Library of Congress Classification, Dewey Decimal Classification, and Universal Decimal Classification. They each come with a number of exercises, and I slowly worked my way through the Dewey chapter last week. Most importantly, the answers are given at the back!

2. The Dewey Blog

025.431: The Dewey Blog (

This blog is pretty awesome! The tagline is “Everything you always wanted to know about the Dewey Decimal Classification System but were afraid to ask…” and this describes the theme of the blog rather well. My favourites are the posts that talk you through how you would classify documents on news topics, e.g. the mission of the Rosetta spacecraft to Comet 67P Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

3. Dewey Training Courses on the OCLC website

Most of these seem to consist of PowerPoint slides and associated exercises. So far, I have only worked my way through the material and exercises on Table 1 (standard subdivisions). I liked that there are lots of examples on how you arrive at a given classmark.

And as a bonus…

Question: How many librarians does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: 645.5 *

(via INALJ)

* 645.5: Lighting fixtures (Dewey Decimal Classification)


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