Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
DMU Home DMU Home LLS Home
LLS logo

Using the Library Catalogue and Shelfmarks: What is Dewey Decimal Classification?

What IS Dewey Decimal Classification?

Just Dewey It Banner

                                                            Image by Enokson ©

At Kimberlin Library and the Law Library, we use the Dewey Decimal Classification system (DDC) to arrange books on similar subjects together. This classification system was invented in 1876 by Melvil Dewey. It is kept up to date and is widely used around the UK and the world in all types of libraries. Dewey organised all of the world’s knowledge into ten great divisions - hence decimal. These are called the main classes. Each subject comes under one of these classes and is assigned an appropriate class number. You may also see and hear this number called a shelfmark.

The ten main classes are:                                Ten Dewey classes


There's more! Beyond the decimal point! 

In order to identify all the elements that describe a book’s contents we expand the original number to give more specific 

subject description:

Dewey Classes


The letters after the numbers are important too!

So every book on the shelves at Kimberlin and the Law Library is assigned a class number, but to help locate the book you need even faster, the class number is always followed by letters, known as the filing suffix. This represents the first three letters of the author’s surname or the first three letters of the title if there is no author. This helps you to locate a specific book when there are many books on the same subject with the same class number. The books will be shelved in strict class number order and then alphabetically according to the filing suffix.

And that's all there is to Dewey Decimal Classification at DMU!