The Caveman’s Guide to the Dewey Decimal System

Dewey Decimal System Animated

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As imagined by Dewey when he thought of the system. The resource is a slide deck on slideshare.net which can be downloaded as a Powerpoint presentation. Original from: * http://mte.anacortes.k12.wa.us/library/dewey/deweystory.htm

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The Caveman’s Guide to the

Dewey Decimal System

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The Story of the Numbers Used for Nonfiction Books

In 1873 Mr. Melvil Dewey devised a system of classifying books which is used in many libraries. He chose certain main subjects and numbers, so that all nonfiction books on the same subject would be together on the shelf. 


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The Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal Classification is the most widely used library organization system in the world.

The system groups books by topic by dividing them into 10 basic categories, and each of those categories is further split into 10 categories, and so on.

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Dewey’s Plan

He chose these subjects by imagining himself to be a Caveman. 

He asked himself questions he thought such a man would have asked.

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000'sBefore I Begin

GeneralitiesInformation I need to know before I begin.

These are books which contain information on many subjects such as encyclopedias and

other reference books.

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100's Who am I?

PHILOSOPHY AND PSYCHOLOGY Man thinks about himself.

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200's Who made me?

RELIGION AND MYTHOLOGY Man thinks about God.

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300's Who is the man (or woman)

in the next cave? SOCIAL SCIENCE

Man thinks about other people.

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400'sHow can I make that man

understand me? Language

Man learns to communicate with others through words.

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500'sHow can I understand

nature and the world about me?

NATURAL SCIENCE Man learns to understand nature on the land, in the sea, and in the sky.

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600'sHow can I use what I know

about nature? APPLIED SCIENCE AND USEFUL ARTS (Technology)

Primitive man learned about fire and how to make weapons.  He learned through the ages about the wheel, about medicine, planting crops, cooking food, building bridges, and how to make all the things we use.

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700'sHow can I enjoy my leisure


By this time, primitive man had more time to do the things he enjoyed.  He learned how to paint pictures and to create music. 

He also learned how to dance

and play games.

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800'sHow can I give my

children a record of man's heroic deeds?


Man became a storyteller.  He created fables, poetry, and plays about his ancestors and the people he knew.  Later, man recorded these stories for all people to read.

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900'sHow can I leave a record for men of the future?


Man began to write about events that had occurred everywhere, and about people who had participated in these events.

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Dewey Decimal System

000 General Knowledge• Almanacs, Encyclopedias, Dictionaries

100 Psychology & Physiology• Feelings, Emotions

200 Religion• Bible stories

300 Social Sciences & Folklore• Careers, Environment, Family, Fairy Tales

400 Languages & Grammar• Grammar, Sign Language, English, Foreign Language

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Dewey Decimal System

500 Math & Science• Animals, Dinosaurs, Fish, Planets, Plants, Weather

600 Medicine & Technology• Computers, Farming, Health, Nutrition

700 Arts & Recreation• Drawing, Crafts, Jokes, Sports, Games

800 Literature• Poetry, Plays

900 Geography & History• Biographies, Countries, States, Travel, Native Americans,


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Works Cited

Complete Library Skills Activities Program by Arden Druce who cited it from School Library Journal, February 1961. Copyright R.R. Bowker Company/Cahners magazine Division.