Searching for books in a library would be one daunting task if the books were arranged randomly. In 1873 an American librarian, Melville Dewey introduced a book classification system to help him assign addresses or co-ordinates to books. He categorized books into 10 broad categories, with 100 divisions and 1,000 subdivisions. This was called the Dewey Decimal Classification System. Most libraries of the world follow this classification system to organize their books due to its many advantages.
Use of Arabic Numerals
The alphabet in different languages in different nations is not the same. A uniform classification system needs characters that are easy to be recognized anywhere in the world. Therefore, the Dewey Decimal Classification System is convenient because of its use of numerals. Arabic numeral notations are commonly followed the world over. Libraries across the world find it easier to use number notations to classify their books.
Books in the Dewey Decimal System are classified according to broad subject categories. A person seeking specialization topics will find all pertinent books in the same section of the library. For example, trigonometry, algebra and arithmetic topics are assembled under the subject: mathematics. This makes the book search easier. Books can be moved around physical locations, but their numbers do not change as they are not categorized according to the shelves they occupy.
Governance of the System
The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) is an entity connecting libraries of the world through common applications and electronic classifications. It is the governing body for the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC). New changes, versions and updates to the system are monitored, implemented and shared with all world libraries connected to the OCLC. This makes the Dewey Decimal System advantageous to use in libraries as queries and classification challenges can be immediately addressed.
Electronic and Print Compatibility
The world of digitization and computerization has made libraries accessible on the World Wide Web as well. The Dewey Decimal System is conducive for computerization and hence makes library software applications easy to build around it. The OCLC has released the 22nd version of the Dewey Decimal System, and it is available in both print as well as electronic format (WebDewey).
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