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Chapter 2: Introduction to Dewey Decimal Classification

Posted by arlekeno on July 10, 2012

The History of Melvil Dewey’s system, Odd to think that before books were classified by where they were. Also interesting to think that the original was 44 pages considering how big my Abridged Vol 12 is! I shall have to download it for free on my iPad.

Would love to get in on the panel that decides the new DDC numbers, I bet that gets a bit heated after a few Sherrys. Anyway, I can get to Dewey online these days via thanks to being a student, though i don’t want to know how much the subscription to that costs!


First Summary = the 10 classes   Second Summary = 10 Divisions  Third Summary = 10 Sections, and after the . Dewey’s Decimal 😛  you get EVEN MORE specific in the hierachy

NUMBER BUILDING ( i.e. the stuff I want and need to know)

Numbers are constructed by taking a number from the Schedules, and adding to it digits from the tables 1-6, or from another part of the schedules (pg 11) Ok, this is the bit I don’t get, the tables. We have some explanation on pg 12, but its only vaguley clearer than mud. I need examples! I vaguely get we can use table 2 to add a location after the decimal, but I need to know in what order we read the tables, what order do we add numbers, and can I look at the bits after the Decimal to work out what it means like I can before the dot?

The Relative index on the other hand makes sense, I will have to look at my copy of the DDC abridged for it, I know we have it for the SCIS subjects in a manner. (am using my town library’s copy, there are NOTES in it EVERYWHERE!)

Advantages of DDC (pg 13 and the Answer to the quiz 2.2 Q4 )

  1. DDC was the first to use the concept of a relative location to organise materials on the shelf.
  2. The Pure Notation (ie all Arabic Numerals) is recognised internationally.
  3. The straightforward numerical sequence facilitates filing and shelving.
  4. The Relative Index brings together different aspects of the same subject which are scattered in different disciplines.
  5. The hierarchical notation expresses the relationship between the class numbers.
  6. The decimal system theoretically enables infinite expansion and subdivision.
  7. the Mnemonic notation helps user to memorise and recognise class numbers (hmmm)
  8. Periodic revision keeps it up to date.

Disadvantages of DDC (pg 13 and the answer to Quiz 2.2 Q5 )

  1. Its Anglo-American bias is evident in its emphasis on American, English and European language, literature and history in the 400s, 800s and 900s, Protestantism/Christianity in the 200s.
  2. Some related disciplines are seperated: 400/800; 300/900.
  3. Some subjects are not very comfortably placed: e.g – Library science in 000; Psychology as part of Philosophy in 100.
  4. In the 800s, Literary works by the same author are scattered according to form: E.g. Shakespeare’s poems are seperated from plays.
  5. Decimal numbering limits its capacity for accomidating subjects on the same level – There can only be 9 divisions (+ 1 general division)
  6. Different rates of growth of some disciplines have resulted in an uneven structure: e.g. 300 & 600 are particularly overcrowded.
  7. Although theoretically expansion is infinite, it doesn’t allow infinite insertion between related numbers, e.g. 610 and 619.
  8. Specificity results in long numbers, which can be awkward for shelving on spine labels.
  9. Altering numbers because of a new edition creates practical problems in libraries, e.g. the need for reclassification, relabelling and reshelving ( I wonder which DDC the SCIS uses for school stuff, I think it is 21, I shall have to check).

Exercise 2.1 is something I do everyday at work, SO I am ok with that. Onto 2.2. The QUIZ

Q1) Describe the Overall Structure of the Dewey Decimal System.

The DDC is divided into 10 main classes, then 10 divisions, then 10 sections.

Q2) What is the purpose of the First, second and Third Summaries? When would you use them?

(ok, I am quoting the answer from the book for this one)

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd summaries list the main classes, divisions and sections with their headings. They are used to become familiar with the overall structure of the DDC, and to locate numbers which relate to each other. (I think the first reason is a bit of a stretch and not mentioned in the book!)

Q3) Why is the relative index so called?

Because it is an idex which relates like or related subjects. (So if a topic has several aspects, you can find the one best suited by looking at all the numbers)


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